The third round of the 2017 Gauteng Nissan TrailSeeker Series attracted close to 2500 participants, who enjoyed the warm conditions and challenging bush trails of the Mabalingwe Nature Reserve in the Waterberg, north of Pretoria.

The elite men, led by Henry Uys, Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) and Philip Buys (Pyga/Eurosteel) nearing the last stretch of the Nissan TrailSeeker Gauteng Series Lionman. Photo Credit:

Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) was challenged for most of the race by South African marathon champion, Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) and Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling). But Buys’s superior technical ability gave him the edge on the Vodacom mast climb and descent, which saw him claim victory in a time of 02 hours 41 minutes 26 seconds. Bell was second and Sidey third.

“There were quite a few technical sections that suited me and I knew exactly where to push the advantage. That was on the big climb and the technical downhill. That’s where I got my lead. Then I just had to put my head down for the last flat section to stay away,” said Buys.

“On that Mast Climb, which is steep and loose, it’s very important to get the right gearing in order to maintain consistent traction. You don’t want to put a foot down or start walking because it’s difficult to get going again,” explained Buys.

“It was quite a challenging route. I think this is the most technical of the Gauteng Nissan TrailSeeker Series routes. The climb was quite rocky to the top. Firstly, you need to have the legs to get up there. And then the downhill, you have to choose good lines to avoid cutting a tyre or crashing. It’s a proper mountain biking challenge,” said Bell.

Sam Sanders reaches the top of Vodacom Mast after overtaking her Valencia teammate Amy Beth McDougall at the Nissan TrailSeeker Gauteng Series Lionman. Photo Credit:

“That climb was rocky and super steep. Not a lot of traction. Philip and Nico’s technical skills are really superior. They are world class riders. I was paying for my early efforts up there,” said Sidey, who had lead the race to halfway.

In the women’s race, defending champion, Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) was forced to withdraw with a mechanical, leaving Valencia teammate, Sanders relatively unchallenged to secure the win in a fast time of 3:04:54. Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) was second and Christie-Leigh Hearder third.

“This is a really hard race. It’s quite loose and rocky and my tyres were a bit too hard for the terrain, so I struggled on the technical climbs. But the wind killed and those sandy patches just chow your energy. But I’m happy to take the win,” said Sanders.

“The organisation of the Nissan TrailSeeker Series events is always excellent. You just have to look at the number of people here to see what a quality event it is. They also make it worthwhile for the pros. I am always happy to take part in this series,” added Sanders.

“Amy had a mechanical on the descent, which is the only way I could pass her on a downhill as she’s very skilled. I could see Amy and Sam ahead of me for most of the first half of the race. I hope to try and catch them but when I couldn’t I just focused on my own race,” said runner-up Ralph.

In the half-marathon, Hennie van Wyk was the fastest male and Tanya Kotze the first female.

Philip Buys (Pyga/Eurosteel) victoriously wheelies across the finish line as he claims the Nissan TrailSeeker Gauteng Series Lionman Victory. Photo Credit:

Sam Sanders (Valencia) arms raised in victory as she crosses the finish line at the Nissan TrailSeeker Gauteng Series Lionman. Photo Credit: