Olympian buys overcomes breakdown to clinch MTB XCO series opener

2013-02-16 00:00

MOUNTAIN BIKING

COOL and wet weather welcomed mountain biking cross-country competitors in Durbanville, Western Province, for the opening round of the national XCO Series last weekend.

Cycling SA technical commissioner Grevile Ruddock said excellent racing was witnessed across all categories.

Of significance were the victories in the elite men and women’s groups for Philip Buys and Mariske Strauss, considering there were several international riders competing.

For London Olympian Buys, his race started well where he went to the front and opened up a slight gap. But then he experienced problems with his gears and dropped to seventh place, spending a lot of energy chasing race leader James Reid with Ralph Naef (SUI), Florian Vogel (SUI) and Brendon Davids.

Buys made his move on the fifth lap (of eight) when he launched an attack on Naef and Reid, with Naef countering, but experiencing his own technical problems. Reid and Buys rode the final two laps about 30 seconds apart.

“The racing was pretty tight as there was a very big field. I think there were around 80 riders in my race, so it makes for very exciting racing, especially with the Europeans taking part,” said Buys.

London Olympian Candice Neethling withdrew from the women’s race due to a sudden ailment, and it was Mariske Strauss who dominated. After a long absence from the XCO track and spending a year in the United States, Strauss could not have asked for a better start to the season. “I had the most amazing race. I felt good and know that I’ve done my training and my equipment was top-notch,” said Strauss of her victory.

KZN riders to take podium positions: Youth women: 1. Frankie du Toit; 2. Kayla Edwards; 3. Alexandra Mapstone. Youth men: 2. Julian Jessop. Junior women: 1. Bianca Haw. Junior men: 1. Alan Hatherly. Sub-vet women: 1. Nedene Cahill. Veteran women: 2. Allegra Wykerd.

Andrew Neethling claimed the honours at the first Downhill National in Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, last weekend. His fast start saw him clock two minutes and 17,82 seconds for the descent on the steep and technical track in wet conditions. Consistently a top-10 World Cup finisher on the international downhill racing circuit, Neethling sure had the challenge laid out for him, as his peers set decidedly fast qualifying times on the slippery track. Neethling will continue his preparations as he gears towards the UCI World Cup season and the UCI World Championship, which will be held in Pietermaritzburg in August.

Stefan Garlicki and Johann Potgieter had a close dice with only 0,05 seconds separating second and third place, with Garlicki finishing second. Pietermaritzburg rider Tiaan Odendaal did well to finish less seven seconds off the winning pace in fifth place. Rika Olivier was the fastest woman on the course, clocking two minutes and 50,63 seconds on her final run.

Participants will now prepare for the African Continental Championships, which will be taking place at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg next month.

The Wartburg 4ever Cycles MTB Classic takes place on February 23. This event is the first in the 2013 Roag Series and will likely attract a big field. The event has something for everyone: 110 km trail run, 10 km run/25 km cycle combo, 10 km, 20 km, 45 km and 60 km MTB races. It’s a beautiful ride through midsummer Midlands pine forests on a triple-single track meandering along cliff edges following the Umgeni River, with remarkable views of the Umgeni River and Albert Falls Dam and, last but not least, some challenging climbs. For entries and further information, e-mail www.roag.co.za.

MULTISPORT

Triathletes and multisporters will be gearing up for the CompliMed Midlands Ultra on March 2 and 3. It is a weekend full of action, which includes a kids’ splash-and-dash race, a sprint triathlon, ultra fun run and the ultra triathlon. Further information at www.midlandsultra.com.

CYCLING

The Burg Wheelers Battery Centre Noodsberg Road Race takes place at a new venue, the Noodsberg Country Club, near Wartburg, next Sunday. This is perfectly timed for cyclists preparing for SA’s biggest cycling race, the Pick n Pay Cape Argus, which takes place on March 10. Distances include 90 km, 65 km and 27 km.

There is also a one-kilometre kids’ dash free of charge. Pre-entries close on Wednesday evening at www.roag.co.za.

The first 400 pre-entries will receive a water bottle and there will be medals for all finishers.

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