The weekend’s race was the fifth edition of the Mid-Illovo Classic that sponsors Husqvarna have been involved in and with the route for both the trail run and the mountain bike races traversing the Gwahumbe and iNsingizi Private Game Reserves riders and runners were treated to some fantastic scenery. The event was once again professionally run and well organised with the entire community getting behind it as well as benefitting from it.

ccs-62657-0-90631600-1432045948.jpgHaving claimed victory in the opening race of the 2015 Quattro ROAG Series defending series champion TIB Insurance's Andrew Hill took his second win at the Husqvarna Mid-Illovo Classic on Sunday. // Photo credit: Johan Pretorius/ Gameplan Media.
Having ended sixth at the sani2c just the day before the Mid-Illovo Classic, Hill felt that he was in good enough shape to take part in the 40km shoot-out in KZN’s prime sugarcane country and explained that the event’s relatively short distance meant that it would not be too taxing on his body.

“sani2c was a bit of a cruise for me and I never really got pushed in the red too badly so it meant that Sunday’s Mid-Illovo then became a reality,” the TIB Insurance stalwart said.

“The shorter races like Mid-Illovo also aren’t a huge whack to the system so it was quite manageable to do both sani2c and Mid-Illovo this year.”

The experienced rider from the Upper Highway region has been prominent in the Quattro ROAG Series thus far in 2015 and understands the year-round demands on riders.

With this in mind and requiring a minimum of six results in the series to qualify for the overall title, Hill has had to plan his calendar carefully and highlights the importance of racing when he can.

“It has been quite a busy first third of the year for me but fortunately I’ve managed to take part in all four of the ROAG Series events so far which is nice because you never know what might happen later on in the year and when you may need a few of the earlier races to help pull you through.

“I’ll be away for the Imana Wild Ride in August, for example, so right now it’s just about trying to make hay whilst the sun shines,” he mentioned.

ccs-62657-0-18293900-1432045943.jpgWith a bronze in the mixed race at the Nedbank sani2c under her belt Jeannie Dreyer followed that up with her first win of the 2015 Quattro ROAG Series at the Husqvarna Mid-Illovo Classic on Sunday. // Photo credit: Johan Pretorius/ Gameplan Media.
With the sani2c finishing within a day of the Mid-Illovo’s start, it was difficult for Hill to take part in 2014’s clash.

With him having not strained himself too much during this year’s three-day race from the Southern Drakensburg to the coast, he was glad to have the opportunity to race on Sunday and it was an added bonus that he was able to claim the win.

“I missed out on last year’s Mid-Illovo as with it being the day after sani2c I decided that it was probably in my best interest to take a of bit of a break on the Sunday.

“It was great to be back there again this year though as it is an event with a bit of a different atmosphere with the mountain biking and the trail running events on the go, some great singletrack and – of course – it’s always nice to win a race as well,” a pleased Hill added.

Having won every edition of the ROAG Series since its inception in 2012, Hill is unsure of who else is likely to be pressing him in the charge for the 2015 Series title.

With two wins from the four races in the series so far, Hill is still already in a strong position however is all too aware of the threat that a number of the other local riders may well pose going forward.

“A lot of the youngsters who would probably be some of my nearest rivals, the likes of Alan Hatherly and co., all have quite a few international commitments so I’m actually not too sure how things stand as far as the log goes at the moment or who else is in the hunt with me.

“Either way though, regardless of who the competition may be, I’m just enjoying being on my bike and being a part of the ROAG Series as often as I can,” he added.

Fresh off her third place in the mixed category at the sani2c with husband Martin, USN/Hi-Tec’s Jeannie Dreyer brushed herself off overnight before winning the women’s race at the Husqvarna Mid-Illovo Classic, opening her 2015 Quattro ROAG Series account in the process.

The series’ women’s defending champion was followed by youngsters Frankie du Toit (Time Freight eTeam) and Tiffany Keep in second and third respectively.

The 2015 Quattro ROAG Series is a nine leg series that sees all of KZN’s top mountain bikers doing battle for the coveted title and the winner’s cheque of R22 000 for both the male and female overall winners. More information can be found at www.roagseries.co.za.