The very first Imbuko Big 5 MTB Challenge took place on 23 February 2019 at Imbuko Wines in Wellington. Sweat, dust, tears, excitement, nerves and triumph to name but a few characteristics of one of the most challenging events on the MTB calendar!
The day started off cool and fresh with a tinge of nervous excitement hanging in the air. The almost 300 riders (seriously unexpected numbers for a first event) lined up for what will be a vertical MTB challenge like no other. The clock stroke 7AM and the Imbuko Big 5 Challenge launched into the paddles for its maiden race.
Three Centurian Vaude team riders, Daniel Geismayr (1st), Jochen Kass (2nd) and Vincent Dorn(3rd) took the top 3 spots with the 2 Imbuko Giant Pro riders in 4th and 5th position who completed the podium. Simon Andreassen, former Junior world-champ, had bad luck cutting his tyre halfway into the route but still finished in a very well accomplished 11th position!
Candice Lill dominated the lady’s division coming in way ahead of the rest and with an overall 13th position. She was followed by Katie Lennard in 2nd and Hanlie Booyens in 3rd.
“The best single day race with the most amazing single tracks I’ve ever done”, “This thing is brutal, but I’m definitely doing it again!” were some of the comments as riders crossed the finish line. Other highlights of the day included a world-class, well-marked route where hardcore climbs are outlined with breath-taking views. Well placed and thoughtful waterpoints carried the riders through the challenges of up hills and heat and the ice-cold neck cloths handed out at the end made it all worth it! The venue, catering and commentating was on point with friendly accommodating staff on stand by for all needs.
The Imbuko Big 5 MTB Challenge, an event not to be missed in years to come and as of now definitely the benchmark for ultimate endurance.
“Thank you to all our sponsors who made this day possible: Imbuko Wines, Gravel Travel, Giant Bicycles, Nedbank, Endurade, DHL, IntoCycling, ADT Fedility, Squirt Cycling Products and Full Suss.”