Continental conquers the Kings at 2019 Herald Cycle Tour
PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, 27 February 2019 - It was intended as a fun-spirited challenge, but the inter-team rivalry between the two-man cycling team from Continental Tyre South Africa (CTSA) and two professional rugby players from the Isuzu Southern Kings at this year's 34th edition of The Herald Continental Cycle Tour was as intense as you would find at any international match.
The teams competed in the action-packed Corporate Relay Challenge for little more than bragging rights, but the pairings didn't hold back and gave it their all, with Continental's Ian Langlands and Julien Biger emerging victorious against burly Kings players Jurie van Vuuren and Michael Botha.
Langlands, CTSA's General Manager of Sales and Marketing, completed the 23 km road leg along Marine Drive before handing over to Biger, who heads up Stock Preparation at Continental's Port Elizabeth tyre plant, for the 15 km mountain bike section through the Nelson Mandela University nature reserve. They completed the race in a combined time of 1:16:20 and finished 10th overall.
Isuzu Southern Kings flanker Van Vuuren took on the fast road section before handing over to full-back Botha who tackled the shorter but no less taxing MTB stint, crossing the line in 1:32:32 and ending in a commendable 25th place.
"Although this was just a fun challenge that brought something new and exciting to the Corporate Relay event, there's no doubting that we gave it everything. And as die-hard sportsmen, it was clear that Jurie and Michael did exactly the same. They did really well considering they are actually cycling novices," Langlands said.
"It's fair to say that size mattered today, with our light weight and speed beating the Kings players' sheer brawn and muscle, but we know for sure that the tables would be turned if we happened to find ourselves facing off against these great guys on the rugby field," he quipped.
Although they lost the challenge, the rugby players had a fantastic outing and attracted keen interest from fellow riders and spectators alike. A total of 54 teams took part in the relay race.
"We knew that we never really stood a chance, as it's basically four of us versus the two of them in terms of the pack weights," Van Vuuren and Botha jokingly added. "It was a lot of fun and we appreciated the opportunity to be part of this great event, and the support was amazing."
There may not have been any prizes or trophies up for grabs for the winners, but a local cycling development team enjoyed the spoils of the challenge by being donated the kit used by the Kings riders in order to boost its academy.
Additionally, the winning team nominated a lucky person to experience a once-in-a-lifetime flip in the iconic Red Bull aerobatics plane, piloted by Patrick Davidson.
The team from Continental chose Michael Sacke, CEO of Isuzu Motors South Africa, for the hair-raising but exhilarating flight that formed part of the spectacular aerobatics display conducted over the race village at Pollock Beach following Sunday's 55 km and 106 km road races.