Mixed conditions shake up the racing at the 2019 Fairtree Simonsberg Contour



Day one of the 2019 Fairtree Simonsberg Contour took place under blue skies and slightly dusty trail conditions when the best that the reported rainfall could do was some very light drizzle early morning. The grey clouds subsided and riders were treated to spectacular views and some great riding after setting off from Delvera Farm.



Waterpoints were manned and womanned by volunteers from Jan Kriel School and BMT bike shop who provided technical support. En route riders did not have this luxury and had to fend for themselves when the going got tough and their bikes had a technical.




In the end it was Frans Claes and Esther Suss who took overall honors for the 56km route. Belgium’s Claes took victory in 2:15:58, beating Switzerland’s Konny Looser by exactly three minutes with Sebastian Stark following them home in third with a time of 2:21:51.


Switzerland’s Ester Suss won the women’s race in 2:33:46, beating compatriot Ariane Luthi by less than a minute. Luthi suffered from a crash out on route, but conceded that Suss was the better climber on the day and that the time she lost would not have made a significant difference to the end result. Sweden’s Jennie Stenerhag rounded out the podium.




To stamp their authority on day 1, Claes and Suss also took the King of the Hill and Queen of the Hill honours with times of 1:46 and 2:22 respectively. Alconray Botha (2:00:14) and Karin van Niekerk (2:10:22) were the respective winners in the 41km race, both coming in with solid gaps to the second-place finishers.


The major difference for us this year is the trails are a lot more settled after the fire we had in 2016. We had a lot of issues with the old burned trees coming down periodically, but it's great to see the veldt coming back the way it did. With the wind on Friday night it was a bit challenging and we had to clear some trees early Saturday morning. It was a hot day, but at least not as hot as the week had been and riders enjoyed the route and cooler conditions. Meurant Botha




Day 2 saw the much-reported cold front and rain rolling in. Early morning drizzle made way for a good downpour just as riders set off for the long route. Route director, Meurant Botha radioed in that some trees had fallen and that they had to make a plan to reroute riders in some sections to avoid the hazards.


While the rain stopped at the start / finish line, conditions worsened in the mountains and the call was made for the Never Say Neverending Again section to be cut from the long route, resulting in all riders completing the 40km route.


Today with the rain we had some new challenges with a few crashes early on. The idea with the Fairtree Contour is to have a fun trail riding experience and we deemed it not necessary to take the guys up our favourite trail up Neverending as it was raining heavily with a lot of fog up there and with riders already soaking wet it would not have added to the experience. 40k's out here with over 20k’s of single track is still a great day out. Meurant Botha


This did not distract from the racing and the first three men home all finished within 2 seconds of each other in a sprint to the finish line. CP van Wyk took the honours from Sebastian Stark and Frans Claes.




Riders from the BMT Fairtree Academy participated on both days with Siyabulela Tutu coming home first in the long distance and Musa Mtiki on the shorter route. Started in 2015, the goal of the Academy has been to encourage Kayamandi residents to participate in sport, get outdoors and challenge themselves and has proved itself successful with several up and coming stars coming through its ranks.




In the ladies category, it was Jennie Stenerhag who dominated the field with a strong ride to lead Ester Suss home by 1 minute and 14 seconds, who in turn was 1 minute and 40 seconds ahead of South Africa’s Katie Lennard. Jennie’s strong showing on Day 2 was not enough to close the gap enough to Ester Suss to snatch overall


Behind them, the riding was as fierce as it was fun with riders enjoying some great single track through the Stellenbosch vineyards. Alconray Botha (2:15:08) and Karin van Niekerk (2:32:15) both continued their strong short route form from day one with comprehensive stage victories on day 2.


I took it easier today with the wet conditions. It was my first time doing the event and it was great and enjoyed two days of great riding. Alconray Botha, Winner of the men’s shorter route


Long route winners

Ladies long route podium.jpg
Overall Ladies Long Distance.PNG


Mens long route podium.jpg
Overall Men Long Distance.PNG


Short route winners

Ladies Short Route Podium.jpg
Overall Ladies Short Distance.PNG


Mens Short route podium.jpg
Overall Men Short Distance.PNG




Meurant has built some great trails here. And we partnered with Dirtopia to help improve the trail system in the Simonsberg Conservancy area and we thoroughly enjoyed these two days and its been amazing riding for us as mountain bikers. The event provides a great option of one or two days, the timing is good in terms of preparation for the ABSA Cape Epic and it’s also doable for riders who just want to get out in Stellenbosch and surrounding areas and enjoy some of the best trails you can find in the Western Cape. Steve Brown, Fairtree Capital





With the rain making for muddy conditions riders were all too happy to make use of the free bike wash and grab a warm cup of coffee in the chill area.


For complete results visit www.trailtag.co.za. For those who would like to enter for next weekend’s trail run please visit www.fairtreecontour.co.za





openmind, Feb 04 2019 12:00

What a great event! Thanks Dirtopia!