Sebastian Stark and Nicky Giliomee prevailed against the elements, on a day when the heavens opened over the Prince Alfred’s Pass, to win the 2019 BUCO Karoo to Coast.
The 96-kilometre-long, ultra-marathon, mountain bike race started in Uniondale as a few drops of rain began to fall, but by the time the riders reached Knysna the precipitation was torrential. Sunday, the 22nd of September, will thus live long in the memories of every one of the 4 500 riders who undertook the journey from the Karoo to the Coast.
“Sometimes it was good, but sometimes it was really hard to see anything” puffed the muddy race winner upon crossing the finish line on the Knysna High School Sports Fields. “I attacked on the second climb” Stark explained, delving into how the 2019 BUCO Karoo to Coast unfolded. “Waylon [Woolcock] went with me, but of course he would not share the work as he had his teammates chasing. So, I decided to get clear of him and ride my own race. It was pretty much a time trial for the last two hours.”
Stark’s time of 3 hours, 19 minutes and 53 seconds was 8 minutes and 51 seconds faster than that of the second-place finisher, Woolcock. “Conditions were really, really tough. But Sebastian [Stark] was really strong. I have to give it to him; he rode me off pretty early” Woolcock graciously conceded. “I could see he was clearly a lot stronger than me so when he did ride me off, I wasn’t too concerned. I just rode my own pace and tried to bring it in to the finish line safely.”
Third place on the day came down to a sprint between Craig Boyes and Dusty Day. Boyes had punctured on the Wa Pad descent, just 12 kilometres into the race and had spent the next 48 kilometres chasing back; gradually passing riders, one-by-one. He caught Day and Stuart Biesheuvel, who finished the race in fifth position at the 60-kilometre mark. Once Boyes and Day had distanced Biesheuvel; a sprint between the two, for the final podium position, was virtually inevitable. “I nearly made the same mistake that Matthew Keyser made last year, when I beat him to take the win” Boyes laughed. “But I managed to hold off Dusty [Day] somehow. He’s a great guy and it’s always fantastic racing against him.”
The women’s race was won by Giliomee, the pre-race favourite and a Knysna local. Making her victory even more popular was the fact that she was riding in support of the South African Guide-Dogs Association. Last year the BUCO Karoo to Coast’s founders, the Lions Clubs of Knysna and Uniondale, donated R100 000 to the association. Unfortunately, the cold and wet weather meant that the custom designed guide-dog inspired Cioviata cycling jersey Giliomee wore for the race did not get much opportunity to be seen.
“It was really rough” a drenched Giliomee exclaimed on the finish line. “It was so cold out there. I’m really happy I made it to the finish in one piece. I rode for a charity close to my heart today, which makes me even more stoked to have won representing them.”
Giliomee’s winning time of 4 hours, 10 minutes and 1 second was nearly 20 minutes slower than her 2018 time; showcasing just how challenging the 2019 conditions were. She was followed across the line by Odette Guy and Annerie van Velden.
Due to the persistent rain squalls, that kept blowing across the sports fields, the prize giving had to be cancelled. The 2019 BUCO Karoo to Coast category winners and podium finishers will thus be honoured digitally during the week. While the lucky draws will also take place electronically, with the winners to be announced on social media.
Further down the field the real heroes of the race were the riders who soldiered on, through the torrential rain and block headwinds, to complete their BUCO Karoo to Coast adventures. Each and every one of them will no doubt remember the experience for years to come. Among the 21 editions of the famous race this will surely rank as one of the most memorable. To relive the day’s adventures riders and mountain biking fans can follow @karootocoast on Twitter, @karoo2coast on Instagram and like the Karoo to Coast Facebook page.
The 2020 race dates have already been set for those whose appetite for adventure has been wet by the 2019 race. It will take place on, Sunday 20 September 2020, and a limited number of early bird entries will go on sale on Tuesday, 24 September 2019. For more information please visit www.karootocoast.com.
2019 BUCO Karoo to Coast Results:
- Sebastian Stark 03:19:53
- Waylon Woolcock 03:28:44
- Craig Boyes 03:34:00
- Dusty Day 03:34:00
- Stuart Biesheuvel 03:37:08
- Nicky Giliomee 04:10:01
- Odette Guy 04:39:57
- Annerie van Velden 04:40:18
- Johanet Cilliers 04:46:22
- Leone Verster 04:50:49
For the full results please visit www.karootocoast.com.
Sebastian Stark leads Waylon Woolcock up one of the many climbs with punctuate the Prince Alfred’s Pass road from Uniondale to Knysna. Photo by Oakpics.com.