Riders enjoyed round two of mountain biking magic on Sunday 19 November 2023 as the final stage of SA’s MTB Party of the year, the Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience got underway at the Coetzenburg Stellenbosch University.
“The 2023 Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience was action packed from start to finish,” says Michael Meyer, Managing Director of Stillwater Sports. “It was a true celebration of the sport, where riders from all walks of life came together to enjoy Stellenbosch’s iconic routes, the stunning scenery, and fantastic camaraderie. The event embraced the ethos of having fun on two wheels, and we couldn’t be happier with the positive response from riders. A big thank you goes out to our sponsors and entrants for contributing towards the amazing vibe at South Africa’s MTB Party of the Year. The 2023 event marked the ideal conclusion to a busy year of mountain biking.”
“The Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience undeniably stands out as a highlight on the South African mountain biking calendar,” says Anelle Gordon, HEINEKEN Beverages Events Specialist. “Over the past two days, riders embraced the spirit of savoring the moment, relishing the routes, and soaking in the spectacular scenery. This aligns perfectly with the ethos of Savanna. We take great pride in our role as the title sponsor of an event that wholeheartedly celebrates the authentic essence of mountain biking, reminding participants why they fell in love with this exhilarating sport.”
Stage Two of the Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience saw Luyanda Thobigunya (Stage One winner) and Kusaselihle Ngidi cross the finish line together in the Marathon Distance in a lightning-fast time of 02 hours 04 minutes 38 seconds. “This is my third Savanna Origin of Trails race. I finished second at the first two events,” says Ngidi. “Today’s trails were nice, and I had a lot of fun. The event features top trails. I will certainly tell my friends to take part in this event and I will come back next year. I decided last night to try my luck in the dress up competition. I hope I win.”
After two days of racing Luyanda Thobigunya secured the top spot on the podium. Kusaselihle Ngidi once again had to settle for second place, with Stefan De Bod placing third.
South African road cyclist Stefan De Bod was pleasantly surprised by the Savanna Origin of Trails. “I’m from Stellenbosch but am living in Spain for the team racing in Europe,” confirms De Bod. “This is the first time that I’ve taken part in the event. I took my bike to Flandria Bike Shop and saw the poster up. While I was waiting for my bike, I entered the event. Now I think that I’ll enter every year. It’s just a great opportunity to ride the trails that I use to train and race on. Sometime people take sport too seriously, so it’s nice to have an event that encourages people to have fun. Yes, there’s a racing aspect to it, which is great, but we need more events that people can just enjoy.”
Lehane Oosthuizen claimed her second consecutive stage victory in the Marathon. “I take part in the Savanna Origin of Trails every year because the routes are really nice,” says Oosthuizen. “We ride the routes a lot, but we never race them. Last year I stopped at all the water points and took part in the dress up competition. This is the fourth year that I have taken part and every year I’ve come second. I wanted to finish first at least once. My husband and I had a competition going on. Yesterday he beat me by 20 seconds, but today I beat him by far. The Savanna Origin of Trails is different to other events in that it is a two-day stage race in our backyard.”
Lehane Oosthuizen was the overall winner after two days of racing. Selina Kuhn placed second, with Sune Henning finishing third.
Stage Two of the Marathon featured a +-48km route that had a total ascent of 750 meters. This stage had many highlights including airplanes at the Stellenbosch airfield, brandy tasting at the Van Ryn Distillery and pizza at The Wine Pod. Traversing Vredenheim for the first time and getting close to the farm’s lions and other wildlife on your mountain bike is bound to be at the top of the highlights list for many riders.
Caroline De Villiers was the first female rider to cross the finish line in the Half Marathon. “This is the first time that I take part in the Savanna Origin of Trails. I wanted to try a stage race, and this event is in Stellenbosch, which made it perfect,” says De Villiers. “It’s been so much fun, and the routes were nice. There were three of us that were overtaking each other all the time, so it was quite tough. My goal was just to see how my legs lasted as I haven’t raced two days in a row before. It was great to cross the finish line in first place.”
Caroline De Villiers was the overall winner in the Half Marathon after two days of racing. Jackie Lochner placed second, while Rochelle Burger finished third.
Jonathan Elcock was the overall men’s winner in the Half Marathon. Ruben Ward placed second, while Ian Volschenk finished third.
Stage Two of the Half Marathon treated riders to a +-36km route that featured a total ascent of 500m. After one early climb and technical descent, the route became an open flat road with easy single track. Half Marathon riders were also treated to glimpses of airplanes and wildlife, brandy tastings and pizza.
Dress Up Day: With the event celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023, event organisers felt it fitting to make ’10’ the central theme – whether it’s a word featuring ‘ten,’ the numeral itself, or the rider’s unique vision of a ten-year celebration. Ciske Turner (Tokai) and Sithethelelwe Xhala (Idas Valley) proved to be the most creative riders on the day. Both riders were awarded a whopping R10 000 and 10 cases of Savanna for their creativity.
WIN a Giant Stance 2 mountain bike at the Savanna Origin of Trails: Marbi Schwartz (Stellenbosch) was the lucky winner of a brand-new Giant Stance 2 mountain bike to the value of R31 090.00 on Sunday 19 November 2023.
EVENT INFORMATION: 2023 Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023, the Savanna Origin of Trails is an individual 2-Day MTB Stage Race that has affectionately been dubbed ‘SA’s MTB Party of the Year’. The event highlights the beauty and splendor of Stellenbosch with mountain bikers being treated to a vast network of world-class and exclusive trails while celebrating the origin of SA mountain biking.
|Saturday 18 November 2023 – Sunday 19 November 2023
|Start and Finish Venue:
|Coetzenburg Stellenbosch University
|Two-Day Stage Race for individual riders
|Categories & Distances:
|Distance Day 1: +-50km
|Distance Day 2: +-48km
|Distance Day 1: +-31km
|Distance Day 2: +-36km
Charity Support: The Savanna Origin of Trails proudly supports the Stellenbosch Trail Fund (STF), a registered non-profit organisation (NPO) entirely funded by donations from local trail users and corporate sponsors. Since 2011, STF’s aim has been to create, improve and maintain hiking, biking and running trails in and around the Greater Stellenbosch
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For more information on the Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience please visit www.stillwatersports.com.