Stuart Marais was first man over the line in the opening event of this year’s BIG5 SPORT CHALLENGE, the Momentum Weekend Argus Knysna Cycle Tour 80 km mountain bike race, putting him one point ahead of professional multi-sport athlete Theo Blignaut, who came in second.
Stuart, who is defending his BIG5 title and was a last minute entry, established his lead early in the race when he broke away from Blignaut on a climb. Says Stuart, “It was a chilly start as it always is in Knysna and then as soon as you hit the first climb the temperatures go up and the tempo goes up and it was full gas over the top of Simola. I found my group and got a good rhythm and kept a good tempo and I felt comfortable all the way.”
Stuart said he is looking forward to the rest of the BIG5 events this week. “The big one is Xterra on Thursday, and I would like to go full gas at Pezula. Hopefully if my legs are strong I can give Brad (Weiss) and Theo a good go there, but it’s a hard week and anything can happen, so I’m taking it one event at a time. I’m just out to enjoy the week.”
First BIG5 lady home today was three-time defending champion Carla van Huysteen. “It was a really, really tough race,” says Carla, who put second-place winner Andrea Steyn away 30 km into the race, “but I stuck it out. I realised I had to work very hard in this first event to get ahead of Andrea going into the running events, because she’s a really strong runner. Hopefully my legs will still have something left for the rest of the week.”
The BIG5 multi-sport challenge is a highlight on the annual Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival programme, which kicked off yesterday and ends 12 July. The multi-discipline event includes the 80 km Momentum Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour MTB Race, the Knysna Dragons Lagoon Mile Swim, the 14 km The Salomon Featherbed Trail Run presented by GU, the full version of the Totalsports XTERRA presented by REHIDRAT® SPORT, and the 21 km Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon Half Marathon.
Tomorrow the BIG5 group will compete in the Knysna Dragons Lagoon Mile Swim and at this stage there’s still lots to play for!
For more information on the BIG5 Sport Challenge: