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07 November 2019 | in NUSF News, Cycling

Cape Town U cleans up at prestigious university mountain bike race

It was a three-day event to remember for the University of Cape Town, who emerged victorious in both the men’s and women’s division of this year’s Varsity Mountain Bike race.


Now in its third edition following two previous events in 2016 and 2017, Varsity MTB 2019 saw a total of 22 students from six institutions battle it out on the rugged terrain of the Western Cape Province of South Africa in the three-stage race to be crowned the university mountain biking kings and queens of the country.


Each university was represented by a team of two riders, with the universities involved including University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of Pretoria (Tuks), the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), the Nelson Mandela University (Madibaz), the North West University (NWU) and Stellenbosch University (Maties).


Champions of the high-profile event were determined by the teams that collectively accumulated the fastest time over the three days of racing, with a total of R39,000 (‎€2,400) distributed to all prize winners.


With the country’s best university mountain bikers not often getting the opportunity to race, and with last year’s event not forming part of the official Varsity Sports calendar, there were no clear favourites at the start, with all teams on an equal footing ahead of Day 1, a wet and muddy 65km stage from Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West to Oak Valley Estate in Elgin.


Tuks duo Antonie Joubert and Andries Nigrini reached the finish line first in the men’s race, just 30 seconds ahead of UCT duo Richard Simpson and Michael Lambrecht, with Michael Sutton and Morné Hollander from Maties somewhat off the pace in third, 23 minutes behind.


In the women’s race, UCT pair Courteney Webb and Amy Tait were the early pace-setters and reached Oak Valley Estate 11 minutes ahead of Catherine Pellow-Jarmain and Susan Kruger of Stellenbosch University, with Tanya Kotze and Michelle Benson from Tuks rounding off the podium places after the first day of action.


Stage 2’s out-and-back route from Oak Valley was dubbed ‘Play Day’ because of its array of challenging single tracks, steep paths and hair-raising descents over the 64km course.

 After over 10 hours of racing, Courteney Webb and Amy Tait from the University of Cape Town were all smiles at the end of themulti-stage university mountain bike race victory that traversed the rugged terrain of South Africa's Western Cape

There was a change on the leader board of the men’s competition as Team UCT leapfrogged Day 1’s leaders Tuks, using their local knowledge of the course to build a three-minute lead over their rivals at the halfway point of the stage, which then grew to a healthy six-minute lead by the end of the day. Joubert and Nigrini remained in second spot, with Maties duo Sutton and Hollander occupying the bronze medal position. Jan Venter and Munro Munnik from Nelson Mandela University were in hot pursuit, just a minute behind in fourth place, with Maties’ overall podium finish far from secured with the final day of racing left.


A champagne toast to the winners! Richard Simpson and Michael Lambrecht from the University of Cape Town cap off their two-day stage win with some bubbly in South Africa's Wester Cape ProvinceThe standings were unchanged in the women’s race after Stage 2, with Day 1 victors Webb and Tait increasing their lead to 17 minutes over closest rivals Maties, with the duo from Tuks holding on to their bronze medal spot ahead of the final day.


Stage 3 was a 69km trek from Oak Valley Estate to Onrus Campsite outside the town of Hermanus, with UCT’s Simpson and Lambrecht looking to maintain their advantage and take home the gold. They were pushed all the way by second-placed Tuks, yet in the end crossed the finish line with a comfortable eight-minute overall advantage to claim Varsity MTB 2019 gold, with Tuks duo Joubert and Nigrini claiming silver and Maties’ Sutton and Hollander holding on to the last podium place.


In the women’s race, Webb and Tait completed their domination of the event as they cruised to victory, crossing the finish line four minutes in front of their closest rivals on the day, with an uncontested 24-minute victory in the overall classification.


“This was the most amazing experience ever, the trails were amazing and everything was just great,” a smiling Tait beamed after the race.


In a late charge for the remaining podium positions, Madibaz duo Jean-Marie Roelofse and Stacey Hyslop who had begun the day in fourth position enjoyed a stellar day on the bike, making up over five minutes to end the day in second and claim third place overall, with Pellow-Jarman and Kruger matching their male counterparts to claim the silver medal for Tuks.



  1. Richard Simpson and Michael Lambrecht (UCT) 08:37.45,0
  2. Andries Nigrini and Antonie Joubert (Tuks) 08:45.21,0
  3. Michael Sutton and Morné Hollander (Maties) 09:51.00,1
  4. Jan Venter and Munro Munnik (Madibaz) 10:21.44,0
  5. Brendan van Eeden and Christo Botes (NWU) 10:23.24,9
  6. Vian Pretorius and Shaun-Cameron Swanepoel (TUT) 11:59.06,0



  1. Courteney Webb and Amy Tait (UCT) 10:57.54,0
  2. Catherine Pellow-Jarman and Susan Kruger (Maties) 11:21.08,0
  3. Jean-Marie Roelofse and Stacey Hyslop (Madibaz) 11:54.19,3
  4. Tanya Kotze and Michelle Benson (Tuks) 11:58.07,4
  5. Nicolene Marais and Ané Jacobs (NWU) 13:46.03,0



Varsity MTB 2019 brought to an end the official Varsity Sports programme for the year, where after eight university sporting competitions held across the country – including athletics, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, mountain biking, netball and rugby 7s – over the duration of the year, the University of Pretoria defended their title with the best performances overall across all eight disciplines.



Image credits: Varsity Sports