A Huge Day Out in the Jonkershoek Mountains for the First Enduro Western Cape of 2021

by | Nov 1, 2021 | Bike, Bike Events & Racing, Bike Race Reports, Enduro WC

The Western Cape of South Africa is home to some of the largest and most rugged mountains in the country. The ground is harsh, as can be the vegetation, but these ancient eroding mountain sides lend themselves to incredible enduro racing! The majestic Jonkershoek Nature Reserve and the MTO trails that line its valley are renowned for serving up an epic day of enduro racing on long and testing stages with demanding liaison climbs. Round 1 of the 2021 Enduro Western Cape season was no different.

The Enduro World Series Qualifier would entail 4 stages, all pedal accessed, with 1650m of descent (and ascent) over the course of the day. Stage times were between 5 and 8 minutes per stage for the top riders aside from the shorter steep and rocky Stage 2. The stage breakdown can be seen below.

A Huge Day Out In The Jonkershoek Mountains For The First Enduro Western Cape Of 2021
The big mountains of Jonkershoek lay in wait on Sunday.

Stage 1 – Red Phoenix

2.7km / 350m

Stage 3 – Armageddon

 4.23km / 500m

Stage 2 – The Plumber

1.7km / 300m

Stage 4 – Iron Monkey

3.5km  / 500m

It was a hot day in the valley that made for tough riding conditions given all the stages were pedal accessed and there was very little tree coverage after the recent fires. A few of the mountain streams were still running after the winter rains, providing an opportunity to cool the body temperatures down and top up the crucial liquid supply!

On stage 1 it was already evident who was looking on form to take top podium positions in Jonkershoek with Matt Lombardi and Zandri Strydom claiming the first stage wins of the day and continuing to tick them off throughout the rest of the day!

Stage 1 results – Men:

  1. Matt Lombardi – 04:45.1
  2. Jason Boulle – 04:47.9
  3. Lance Morris – 04:49.4

Stage 1 results – Women:

  1. Zandri Strydom – 05:29.5
  2. Jessi Nixon – 05:46.7
  3. Annemi Pfister – 06:12.4
A Huge Day Out In The Jonkershoek Mountains For The First Enduro Western Cape Of 2021
The sun baked down on the Jonkershoek valley and the racing was heating up as well!

The unforgiving terrain took its toll on bikes and bodies. A fair share of crashes were had but everyone managed to dust themselves off and there were few major injuries to report on!

Stage 2, The Plumber, was the most technical challenge of the day for riders. Long technical rock gardens that battered riders from every direction! Keeping off the brakes and letting the bike move was crucial but easier said than done!

Stage 2 results – Men:

Matt Lombardi – 02:57.5
Lance Morris – 03:12.9
Adi van der Merwe – 03:14.0

Stage 2 results – Women:

Zandri Strydom – 04:00.4
Jessi Nixon – 04:27.5
Jenna Byrnes – 04:48.1

A Huge Day Out In The Jonkershoek Mountains For The First Enduro Western Cape Of 2021
The Plumber is unforgiving!

The longest stage of the day was Armageddon, Stage 3, at just over 4km and dropping 500m. With more corners than you can shake a stick at, it rewarded those with stamina and powerful acceleration.

Stage 3 results – Men:

Matt Lombardi – 08:28.2
Adi van der Merwe – 08:40.5
Lance Morris – 08:43.4

Stage 3 results – Women:

Zandri Strydom – 09:36.1
Jessi Nixon – 10:29.6
Annemi Pfister – 10:53.2

A Huge Day Out In The Jonkershoek Mountains For The First Enduro Western Cape Of 2021
Adi van der Merwe was looking dangerous about a full sus bike for the first time in a while at an EWC!

Stage 4 results – Men:

Matt Lombardi – 06:15.2
Adi van der Merwe – 06:28.7
Keira Duncan – 06:31.0

Stage 4 results – Women:

Zandri Strydom – 07:31.5
Jessi Nixon – 07:50.7
Jenna Byrnes – 08:38.2

A Huge Day Out In The Jonkershoek Mountains For The First Enduro Western Cape Of 2021
Zandri Strydom made the journey down from the North and stamped her mark in Jonkershoek yet again!

After 4 enormous stages, and 4 equally enormous climbs, the large volumes of dust had settled in the Jonkershoek Valley. The final top 5 were as seen below.

Overall Results – Men:

Matt Lombardi – 22:25.989
Adi van der Merwe – 23:15.373
Lance Morris – 23:23.197
Gary Barnard – 23:36.857
Keira Duncan – 23:39.275

Overall Results – Women:

  1. Zandri Strydom – 26:37.49
  2. Jessi Nixon – 28:34.433
  3. Annemi Pfister – 31:07.672
  4. Jenna Byrnes – 31:26.721
  5. Anvia Bredenkamp – 33:26.685

Find the full results here

Returning from a season of racing enduro in Europe, Matt Lombardi took a clean sweep, winning all of the stages! Fitness and a lot of time on the bike paid dividends in Jonkershoek. Adi van der Merwe finally got himself on a full sus bike and showed what he is capable of with a strong second! Local legend and silent assassin Lance Morris wasn’t far off his heels in 3rd.

Zandri Strydom also earned herself a convincing win in the women’s race, even on a short travel bike! We can’t wait to see what she can do when she goes full enduro! Jessi Nixon was the next fastest lady with Annemi Pfister behind her in 3rd. The top 5 women had 4 young riders in the mix and it looks like the competition will be heating up in years to come!

A Huge Day Out In The Jonkershoek Mountains For The First Enduro Western Cape Of 2021
The young guns were charing hard in Jonkers!

Philip George Van Schalkwyk and Keagan Brand in the u16 Youth category were both lighting it up, finishing 7th and 10th overall respectively! There are certainly some talented riders in the female junior categories as well with Jenna Byrnes bringing home 4th place and Anvia Bredenkamp in 5th! With a few first timers racing the Lite as well, the enduro bug seems to be biting the youth!

The landscape in South Africa is a breeding ground for enduro racing and as the culture is shifting from marathon focused events to trail riding this category of racing is beginning to take off!

To see and download photos from the event click here for Stage 3 and here for Stage 4!

Visit the Enduro Western Cape website here.

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