Davids bags season’s first win

2013-03-16 00:00

BRENDON Davids (Team Jeep SA) claimed his first victory in the 2013 mountain bike cross-country season, convincingly dominating the UCI African Continental Mountain Bike Champs held on the Cascades course in Pietermaritzburg last weekend.

As the U23 riders started two minutes behind a strong field of elite men, Davids had to work his way through the field of elites in the tough, muddy conditions, extending his lead in his own category, as well as overall, and having overtaken Olympian Philip Buys in the middle of the race.

However, Davids did not have things all his own way — a strong field of U23 riders chased hard from the gun. The top five positions in the U23 category also took the top five fastest times, with competitive racing throughout the field. The racing was intense and action-packed, with many of the riders taking risks in the tricky conditions in order to gain any advantage possible.

Davids, an experienced racer who won the African Continental Junior title three years ago, played it safe, which worked in his favour as he accelerated in the closing stages.

With many crashes in the field behind him, Davids’s near-flawless race showed the experience gained while racing in the United States during the 2012 season. His winning time of 1:25:38 over the five laps gave him a two-minute lead over second-placed James Reid (1:27:37), with Arno du Toit (1:27:50) taking the final podium position. Buys took the elite title in 1:28:20.

Davids was ecstatic, dedicating his first win of the season to his sponsors and the late Burry Stander. He said: “It’s awesome to win after being so hungry for a result the entire year. A massive thanks to everyone for the support and my sponsors. This one is for Burry”.

Ahead of the upcoming UCI World Champs, to be held on a similar course in August, Davids had high praise for the organisers, KZN Mountain Biking, and course builder Nic Floros, describing it as an “absolutely brilliant course”.

In the women’s racing, the U23s also proved faster than the elites, with Mariske Strauss taking the honours in 1:48:54 ahead of KZN Olympian Candice Neethling in 1:52:18. Yolande Speedy won the elite category in 1:59:20.

KZN riders showed their depth of talent in the non-UCI category racing. KZN women dominated the age-groups with Sabine Thies (sprogs), Tiffany Keep (sub-junior), Frances du Toit (youth), Bianca Haw (junior), Nedene Cahill (sub-vet) and Natalie Bergstrom (veteran) all claiming gold medals in their categories.

Con Malherbe (masters) and Charles Stander (grand masters) added to KZN’s gold medal haul.

MULTISPORT

Cordwalles present their 10th Mudman and the third event in the aQuellé Mudman Series at Orient Park, Midmar Dam, tomorrow morning. The full-distance race is an open-water swim over 750 metres or four-kilometre paddle, a 20 km cycle and a five-kilometre trail run starting at 8.30 am. The half-distance race is a 375 m open-water swim or two-kilometre paddle, a 10 km cycle and a 2,5 km trail run starting at 9.30 am. The mudskipper events will take place before prizegiving at midday. Registration is open from 6.30 am to 8  am. Further event details at www.cordwalles.co.za.

The Varsity College Multisport Series starts on April 7 with the first event at Albert Falls Dam. Successive dates are June 9 and August 11. Entries and further details at www.roag.co.za.

MOUNTAIN BIKING

The Nedbank Intaba Ridge Classic takes place at the Intaba Ridge Estate in Bisley Nature Reserve on March 24. Five minutes outside Pietermaritzburg, the event last year became a new destination for both trail runners and mountain bikers.

The race is two months earlier this year, when the bushveld and savannah are in prime condition at the end of summer.

The event includes five-kilometre and 15 km trail runs (starting from 7 am) and 10 km, 20 km and 40 km mountain bike races (starting from 9 am). Entries and further information at www.roag.co.za.

Catering for contestants preparing for sani2c and joBerg2c, the Safire Notties-Himeville 100 km also takes place on March 24. Unlike most race routes, this route is aimed at making a long ride non-technical. The difficulty of this race lies in the distance, not the terrain. A large portion of the race takes place on district roads, allowing riders to maintain a higher average speed. There are some tough climbs getting out of some of the big river valleys, the Umko Valley not being the least of them. But the reward of riding through the beautiful foothills of the southern Drakensberg more than makes up for this, with some of the best race scenery around. Four water tables along the way will keep participants fuelled to the finish. Entries and more info at www.roag.co.za.

CAPE EPIC

Pietermaritzburg-based Brandon Stewart (31) will participate in this year’s Absa Cape Epic for the 10th time, partnering with Neil MacDonald. Stewart won the Absa African Leader jersey in 2007 and 2012, and finished in the top five in 2005, having partnered with Gerrie Beukes, Shan Wilson, Max Knox and Jacques Rossouw in the past. He was the South African cross-country champion in 2008 and a TransAlp stage winner in 2007.

The legendary Absa Cape Epic will see Stewart and about 1 200 other riders complete the demanding eight-day mountain bike adventure of 698 km with 15 650 m of climbing from Meerendal Wine Estate to Lourensford Wine Estate.

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