This year’s Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival kicked off with a successful Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour which saw thousands of cyclists descend on Knysna for the two-day event.
About 3,500 riders competed in the MTB races on Saturday, which saw Matthys Beukes, Team PYGA Euro Steel, win the 80km MTB event in 02:47:02. He beat Gert Heyns (02:51:29) by more than three minutes, breaking the course record he set in 2015 of 02:52:12. Third was Matt Beers, just a split second behind Heyns (02:51:30).
Speaking after the race, Beukes said the race went well for him although he had woken up with allergies and nearly didn’t race.
“I thought I would see how it went after the first climb, but my legs felt quite fresh. I got some good training in the last few weeks so I could see the power was there from quite early on. It was just a matter of trying to tire the other guys out a bit. At the 40km mark I put in a big attack.”
When Beukes won the event two years ago, first woman home then was Robyn de Groot, who rides for Team Ascendis Health. She was also first woman home today with a time of 03:00:10, beating Candice Lill (03:01:44) and last year’s winner Yolande de Villiers who came third.
George-based De Groot said that supporting a local event is very important to her and she was happy that the event had gone ahead despite the fires.
Sunday’s road race saw two first time winners for the Knysna Cycle Tour 115km event.
Brendon Davids clinched his first Knysna Cycle Tour road race title, finishing in a time of 02:45:30 and beating Reynard Butler and Thando Zothe by more than a minute. In a sprint finish Butler (02:47:19 ) beat Zothe (02:47:20) by just a split second.
Davids, who rides for Team Road Cover, said he was happy to get his first win as a road rider at the Knysna Oyster Festival.
“The team executed the plan really well, and they put me in the best position possible,” said Davids. “We attacked around 65km from the finish and I managed to do a sort of a solo time trial to the finish.”
Carmen Buchacher also took her first ever win in the event, beating Candice Lill by 6 seconds in a time of 2:55:46. Defending ladies champion Anriette Schoeman was third (2:57:46).
In the previous three years Buchacher has placed third twice and was second last year. “So I’ve worked my way up,” she says. “I always love being here for the Oyster Festival. I always do the mountain bike race first on the Saturday but yesterday I didn’t have the best legs and was only placed fourth so I think this made up for it today.”
Marketing Director of the Knysna Cycle Tour, Andrew Finn said that he was extremely happy with the weekend’s events considering the fact that it was just one month since the devastating Knysna fires started.
“We are grateful to the thousands of cyclists who made the trip to Knysna to support the Cycle Tour and our campaign #RideForALocal,” said Finn. “We had great weather on Saturday for the mountain bike races and managed to stave off the rain on Sunday until the bulk of the field was home. Our other events, the SPUR Children’s Fun Rides and the Forest Family Dam Ride also went off smoothly and were well supported.”
Doug Emanuel, President of Knysna Rotary which coordinates the event, said that the turnout for the Cycle Tour was fantastic. “We were a bit anxious after the fires but very soon it was business as usual in Knysna, and we are very grateful to all the riders who turned out to support the event, and Knysna.”
Carel Bosman, Head of Sponsorships for Momentum, naming sponsor of the cycle tour, said that it was a wonderful weekend of racing and festivities. “Saturday especially was a fantastic day in Knysna because of the unseasonably warm weather. The cyclists turned out in their droves to support Knysna and there was a great vibe in town after the previous traumatic weeks following the fires. There really is a sense that Knysna is rising from the devastation. Momentum was very involved in the relief effort, and it is wonderful to see locals and visitors enjoying themselves again in the outdoors and the sunshine. I rode the race myself and I can tell you that the forest is still beautiful and Knysna has lost none of its appeal.”
All the results from the weekend’s events are available at oyster.events.