Neethling seems to be in very good form at the moment. She already won the 80km Extreme mountain-bike race at the Addo Elephant Park and was also victorious at the MTN Barberton Marathon.
Matthys Beukes (Contego/Giant) who was second at the Barberton MTN ultra race and won the Addo is one of this season’s big relevations.
In the past he was considered to be a cross-country rider who would compete in the odd marathon. He had his moments in the longer races but it was not a regular occurrence.
According to Beukes there are three reasons for his success.
“I think the turning point in my career came about last year when I toured through the USA for three months and raced there.
“My experiences there, good and bad, helped me to mature as a human being as well as a mountain biker.
“When I came back I was a much stronger person. You can actually say that I have learned in the USA what hard-core is all about. I am not scared any longer to ride non-stop for six hours on my mountain bike. I no longer get rattled by insignificant things that can go wrong like, for example, arriving at a water point and discover that my bottles are not there.
“I am also more disciplined. This is mostly due to my coach, Leon Scheepers. He made me realize that there are no short cuts to success. To become a winner you need to put in the long hours.
“Last year was the first time that I trained for months on end without finding some excuse to take a break.
“But, more importantly, I have learned to enjoy mountain biking again. I really love riding my bike and I am a firm believer in the principle that a happy rider is a fast rider.
“I proved it to myself in the Addo race. During the first two hours of the race I was really battling. I simply did not have the legs. But, in spite of it, I was still enjoying myself. Then, suddenly, I got going and was able to take the lead.”
After the weekend (16-17 February) the top ten male riders on the KIA rankings list are:
1. Matthys Beukes (Contego);
2. Charles Keey (Cannondale/Blend Properties);
3. Darren Lill (Cannondale/Blend Properties);
4. Brandon Stewart (FedGroup-Itec);
5. Kevin Evans (FedGroup-Itec);
6. Munnik OIiver;
7. Andrew Stockwell;
8. Francois Nel;
9. Max Knox (Specialized);
10. Lourens Luus (RE:CM)
The top-ranked female riders are:
1. Candice Neethling (BMC);
2. Ischen Stopforth (Bizhub);
3. Bridgette Stewart (FedGroup-Itec);
4. Robyn de Groot;
5. Catherine Williamson (Bizhub);
6. Jennie Stenerhag;
7. Mariske Strauss;
8. Leana de Jager;
9. Yolandi du Toit (Bizhub);
10. Ariane Kleinhans (RE:CM).
For the complete rankings go to www.kiarankings.co.za
The organizers of all mountain bike races are encouraged to register their respective events for the KIA rankings.