MTB Festival riders

2016-05-04 06:00

MUD, rain, sunshine, cold, heat - participants were tested by a wide variety of conditions in the second annual Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival, which came to a close on Monday after three days of varied competition, from the development to elite levels.

Saturday’s competitors in the elite hors catégorie cross-country (XCO) races had to deal with very challenging cold, muddy conditions, with the riders in the junior men’s World Series race having to cope with the worst of it, which meant running more than riding, as mud played havoc with the mechanics of their bikes.

The Austrian duo of Gregor Raggl and Karl Markt, more familiar than the majority of the field with the conditions, made it count by claiming the top two steps of the men’s elite podium, while Philip Buys flew the South African flag in third place.

In the women’s race, Mariske Strauss secured a home victory, taking the win ahead of Cherie Redecker, the highest ranked South African in the UCI world rankings, with Kargo Pro MTB’s Frankie du Toit continuing her education in the pro ranks with a third place finish.

The most dramatic competition happened in the men’s Junior World Series race with the mud reducing the bikes to weights that had to be carried for much of each lap. Again, it was an overseas-based riders who shone, with Alexander Benn of Germany breaking away on the second lap to win by 10 minutes over KZN rider Reinhard Zellhuber, with Antonie Joubert ending third, nine minutes down on Zellhuber.

Danielle Strydom, the South African road and MTB champion, dominated the junior women’s World Series race, and despite taking two tumbles in the slippery conditions won by more than four minutes over Christie-Leigh Hearder. Third went to Sabrina van Wyk.

Pietermaritzburg local Jeannie Dreyer stormed to an impressive overall victory in Sunday’s SA Masters Marathon Championships, forcing the pace from the start to open up a gap that no one was able to close down.

Competing in the 35-39 age group, she was first across the finishing line in 3:01:30, more than nine minutes faster than the second fastest rider, Theresa Ralph, who topped the 40-44 category.

Sunday’s competition also featured the finals of KwaZulu-Natal Cycling’s District Development Series, with 125 riders representing each of the 11 district municipalities of KZN on single-speed racers or BMX bikes in a series of knockout races.

KwaZulu-Natal Sport and Recreation’s deputy­ manager of monitoring and evaluation, Duncan Pool, said he felt pride in seeing a programme like the District Development Series come together.

The competition wrapped up yesterday with the enduro event, which combines the best of the social aspect of MTB cycling and a tamer version of downhill, and Primary and High Schools competition. Mother Nature was at her finest as participants and moms and dads enjoyed a fine day out on the public holiday.

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