The winners of the Old Mutual joBerg2c had been decided on day 8 of the nine day, 900km ride from Heidelberg to Scottburgh. In the men’s category it was Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (PYGA Euro Steel) who rode away victorious, while in the competitive Lanham-Love Mixed Category Darren and Candice Lill (dormakaba) defended their 2016 title with a commanding display of mountain biking. That meant everyone in the 750-strong field could wake up stress-free on day 9 and enjoy the Old Mutual Wealth (Champagne) Stage to the maximum.
The final day’s ride was an 80km neutral stage from Jolivet in Highflats to Scottburgh. That start was a rolling start, so riders had the hour between 7 and 8am to get on their bikes and aim for the coast. After eight days of serious racing, the field was eager to get going and promptly raced off as the clock struck seven, but the winning teams used the opportunity to lie in and only rolled off just before 8am.
The idea of the ‘champagne” stage was to let riders enjoy their final moments at the Old Mutual joBerg2c without the worry of missing a cut-off, and to let them enjoy their last night in a joBerg2c race village. Most participants took advantage of the race’s day 8 finish and partied long into the night in Jolivet before stumbling back to tents beneath impressive macadamia trees.
The joBerg2c’s official craft beer partner, Nottingham Road Brewery, did a roaring trade, and many riders started the champagne stage with Pickled Pig Porter or Tipsy Tiger IPA beer breath. Men’s champs Matthys Beukes and Phil Buys also took time to mingle with the evening revellers, further enhancing their reputations as likeable winners.
With nothing left to race for, the Lills, Buys, Beukes and other top riders like Grant Usher, Nico Bell, Gawie Combrinck and Amy Beth McDougall all took the opportunity on day 9 to ride in the middle of the bunch, cruising to the finish later than they normally would.
Day 9 was all about celebrating South Africa and the unique nature of the joBerg2c, the ride that takes people from all ov