The 2018 BUCO Karoo to Coast was won by Craig Boyes and Pauline Tunstead in remarkably different fashions in Knysna on Sunday the 23rd of September. Boyes held off his breakaway companions in a sprint for the line, while Tunstead blew the women’s field apart on the race’s long climbs.
Held in near perfect conditions; which saw the first section of gravel road known as the, ‘Ou Wapad’, smoother than it has been for years and in presently mild temperatures the 2018 BUCO Karoo to Coast was one for the history books. 4 600 riders made the twentieth edition the largest ever field and only a light headwind provided a hint of natural difficulty. It was anything but an easy day on the bike, however, as the accumulation of meters of elevation gained stacked up and the constant vibrations of racing across gravel roads at high speeds increased the rate at which fatigue set in.
Not even race winner Boyes was immune from the effects of the gruelling race. He, Matthew Keyser (Silverback Volvo) and fellow Specialized compatriot Waylon Woolcock broke away from the rest of the field on the ‘Ou Wapad’ descent. They were joined briefly by Oliver Munnik – but the Santa Cruz South Africa rider’s decision to ride a gravel bike rather than a mountain bike came back to haunt him. Though Munnik managed to agitate the racing over the ‘Ou Wapad’ he was unable to hold the lead group on the descent which followed and expended too much energy chasing back repeatedly. These efforts told in the second half of the race where Munnik dropped out of the top ten, proving conclusively that mountain bikes are the fastest machines over the BUCO Karoo to Course route.
At the front of the race Boyes, Keyser and Woolcock shared turns on the front, ensuring none of the pursuers could catch them. Then with 45 kilometres to go Woolcock attacked, distancing Boyes and Keyser by 20 seconds on a long and grinding climb. On the descent which followed the lightweight Woolcock could not maintain his advantage as the larger Boyes and Keyser used their momentum to good effect – closing the gap by the 40-kilometre mark.
Fatigue and cramps then began to set in for Boyes, but he managed to hang on to the others and set up a sprint finish by entering the lagoonside trails of Knysna neck-and-neck with Keyser and Woolcock. Rounding the final bend, onto the Knysna High School Sports Fields, Keyser carried too much speed and found himself up against the railings. Boyes though paced this final corner to perfection carrying enough speed to exit the corner with the necessary momentum to beat Keyser to the line. The young Silverback Volvo rider had to be content with second and the King of the Mountain prize, while Woolcock rolled across the line in third a handful of seconds behind the victorious Boyes.
“Ja look, I think I definitely got lucky today” Boyes recounted from the finish line. “Waylon (Woolcock) and Matt (Keyser) were definitely strong and I was cramping for the last 30 kilometres. I got dropped on the last climb but managed to fight back just before we crested. Then, in the end, Matt almost had me, but he just took the wrong line” the race winner explained. “It’s great; I’ve never had a podium here before. So it’s really good. I just want to stop cramping” he laughed through a grimace.
In the women’s race, Pauline Tunstead sealed a victory which had even the winner herself surprised. “My friends are all riding still” she laughed, “I am still in shock.” Though nobody could have predicted her victory before the 2018 BUCO Karoo to Coast once the racing started she was clearly the strongest woman in the field. Tunstead simply road away from the second placed woman, Nicky Giliomee on one of the many long climbs and went on to claim the Queen of the Mountain prize along with the 20th edition’s title.
“I didn’t expect this, but BUCO Karoo to Coast has always been my favourite race as an amateur,” the newly crowned champion said. “It has a little bit of everything and it is beautifully organised. Plus I just love this part of the country. I’m overwhelmed” an ecstatic Tunstead concluded.
“We had perfect weather and the route was so nice” second placed Giliomee enthused after her second runner’s up placing in as many years at the BUCO Karoo to Coast. “It was also great to see the camaraderie between the riders, everyone is just here to ride their bikes. I’m also so proud of Craig (Boyes). He really deserves this win and Pauline (Tunstead) climbs incredibly well so she is also a really deserving winner.” Joining Tunstead and Giliomee on the women’s podium was _.
Results: 2018 BUCO Karoo to Coast
- Craig Boyes (Specialized)
- Matthew Keyser (Silverback Volvo)
- Waylon Woolcock (Specialized)
- Pauline Tunstead (
- Nicky Giliomee (Journey by Junto)
For more information about the BUCO Karoo to Coast please visit www.karootocoast.com.