Words By: Seamus Allardice | Images By: Oakpics & Max Sullivan



Toyota Specialized and Cannondale Factory Racing got the 2024 Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, off to a winning start on Stage 1; on Thursday, 8 February. Matt Beers and Alex Miller slipped away to win taking a 37 second advantage into Stage 2. Mona Mitterwallner and Candice Lill benefitted from a crash by Annie Last, who had been in second just behind the leaders, and ended the day with a 1 minute and 6 second buffer to ⁠Efficient Infiniti Insure.

The 26 kilometre opening stage was raced at a lightning fast pace and Toyota Specialized controlled proceedings form the off. “I pushed the pace on the first proper climb and we sort of unexpectedly got a bit of a lead,” Beers explained. “Alex [Miller] and I pushed on because anything can happen out here in the Koue Bokkeveld. Having a bit of an advantage will serve us well going into a tough couple of days tomorrow and on Saturday.”

In the women’s race a large group, of the top four teams raced together for the first half of the stage. Then on an undulating trail, a gap naturally opened behind Mitterwallner, Lill, and Last. “I was aware that the sounds of wheels behind me were getting fainter on a rolling singletrack,” Lill retold. “When I had a chance to look back, I saw that we had a gap and only Annie [Last] had been able to follow. She then had to wait for her teammate. On the next dual-track I looked at Mona [Mitterwallner] and she said go. So, that’s what we did.”

“Annie and Malene Degn were only about 20 seconds behind us coming into the final couple of kilometres,” Lill added. Disaster then struck for the Lapierre Mavic Unity team, Last crashed heavily and was only able to limp through the final kilometre. “It looked like a really bad fall, I hope Annie is okay and able to start tomorrow,” Vera Looser sympathized.


Cannondale Factory Racing and Toyota Specialized doubled up on their Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, success with stage victories on Friday, 9 February 2024. The wins are both the UCI women’s and men’s category leaders’ second of the race. This sees both Candice Lill and Mona Mitterwallner, as well as Matt Beers and Alex Miller extend their overall advantages.

Stage 2 was a technical 88 kilometre affair, with 1 700 metres of climbing, in the Witzenberg Valley. Famed for its challenging singletracks and arduous climbs, the course provided the terrain for the strongest teams to gain from their physical advantages. In the women’s race the second climb of the day was the one which proved decisive, while in the men’s it was only on the return to the Koue Bokkeveld Plateau that the accumulated efforts told on the Toyota Specialized team’s rivals.

After two days of racing Lill and Mitterwallner lead Loiv and Belomoina by 6 minutes and 57 seconds. Vera Looser and Danielle Strydom’s loss of 1 minute and 13 seconds to the KMC-Ridley team sees the Efficient Infiniti Insure team slip to third overall, at 7 minutes and 31 seconds behind Cannondale Factory Racing.

In the men’s race, Imbuko Pro Cycling took the fight to Toyota Specialized in the early phases. “Wessel [Botha] had been caught out behind a group yesterday so we knew we had to be at the front from the start today,” Marco Joubert stated. “We kept the pressure on and managed to ride cleanly through the singletracks in the first 40 kilometres.”

Beers and Miller’s margin of victory, on the stage, was 1 minute and 18 seconds over Joubert and Botha. Gunnar Holmgren and Martins Blums recovered from having to stop to reinflate Blums’ rear tyre inside the final 15 kilometres to win the sprint for third. They slipped from second to third on the general classification standings, which are topped by the Toyota Specialized team. Imbuko Pro Cycling leapfrogged from fifth to second, and are 3 minutes and 14 seconds off the men in the yellow First Ascent jerseys. KMC-Ridley are a further 34 seconds back. PYGA Euro Steel and the ⁠Bulls Mavericks are within 7 seconds of each other, just over 5 minutes down on the overall standings.


The Queen Stage of the Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, featured South African mountain biking’s most infamous climb, the Merino Monster. The ascent to 1 799 meters above sea level, challenged the teams to 1 000 metres of elevation gain over 20 odd kilometres. The victors on the day were also the teams who claimed the King and Queen of the Mountain hotspot prize, team Toyota Specialized and the KMC-Ridley women.

In the race itself, Beers and Miller put in another commanding ride. The Toyota Specialized team controlled proceedings from the front and limited their risks. “We wanted to take a lead to the summit, if only to ensure we had the time to have a glass or two of coke and compose ourselves for the descent,” Beers stated.

In the final 5 kilometres Matt [Beers] really upped the tempo and we weren’t able to contest for stage victory. But we’re happy to have further strengthened our hold on second, and tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to race for stage victory.”

In the UCI women’s race the Old Gydo Pass led to early splits. “We decided to take it easy down the pass, in the dust and early morning light it’s very difficult to see and it’s easy to puncture by hitting a rock,” Candice Lill said. As a result, the Cannondale Factory Racing team found themselves 25 seconds behind the KMC-Ridley and Efficient Infiniti Insure teams at the foot of the descent.

The KMC-Ridley team reinforced their superiority on the day by earning the stage victory. Cannondale Factory Racing were forced off the top step for the first time in the race as they ceded 5 seconds to Loiv and Belomoina. The result means that Lill and Mitterwallner take a 6 minute and 52 second lead into the final stage. Looser and Strydom, who finished third on the day, hold the final general classification podium position too. The Efficient Infiniti Insure team are 14 minutes and 47 seconds behind the women in the pink First Ascent jerseys.


Toyota Specialized rolled across the lawns of Kaleo Guest Farm to claim the team’s second successive Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, victory on Sunday, 11 February. Matt Beers backed up his 2023 winning effort, by securing three stage victories en route to the 2024 title, alongside new teammate Alex Miller. Stage 4 was a showdown between the teams hoping to maintain their positions and the KMC-Ridley squad who would go all-in to regain their podium place.

In the final kilometres KMC-Ridley ensured they led into the singletracks which put them in pole position to win the sprint for the final stage victory. Beers and Miller sat up behind them, once the opportunity to complete a clean sweep of stages had been denied to them. Their second place on the day only cost them 4 seconds to a team 13 minutes behind them on the general classification standings. As a result, Toyota Specialized’s overall margin of victory was 4 minutes and 8 seconds over Joubert and Botha. Schneller and Roudil-Cortinat finished fourth on the day to hold onto their third place overall, while PYGA Euro Steel were fifth on the stage. The Bulls Heroes, Urs Huber and Leon Kaiser, were fifth overall.

Candice Lill and Mona Mitterwallner secured the 2024 Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, in emphatic fashion on Sunday, 11 February. The Cannondale Factory Racing pair won the final stage, adding Stage 4 to their Stage 1 and 2 victories, taking their final margin of victory to nearly 9 minutes. The South African and World Marathon Champions were joined on the stage and general classification podiums by KMC-Ridley and Efficient Infiniti Insure.

Along with the racing the UCI women enjoyed the general experience at the event too. “It’s impossible to pick a single highlight,” Mitterwallner said. “The landscapes are so beautiful, the trails are so good, and the race village is spectacular. I really enjoyed the early mornings and the peace out here, it’s so different to back home in Austria. Being able to shut off, after the stage, and relax while reading a book is special. I could just tell people, ‘There’s no signal’ and switch off my phone!”