Over 260 riders lined up for the start of the opening cross-country race of the season at a hot, dry and windy course at Mankele MTB Park today. A multi-national race ensued in the Pro-elite categories with representation from European and African countries, such as Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Great Britain, Uganda, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Mauritius.

National Champion James Reid of Team Spur claimed the Pro-elite Men’s victory in emphatic style at the opening round of the 2016 SA XCO Cup Series in Mpumalanga on Saturday 30 January. Photo credit: Memories 4 U Photography

Seeming in command of the race from the get-go, Reid clocked the fastest time on his opening lap of eight in a time of 11 minutes and six seconds. Hot on his heels were Arno du Toit and Philip Buys (both Scott Factory Racing powered by LCB) and Alan Hatherly and Brendon Davids (both Kargo Pro MTB Team), who continued to jostle for the top five positions in the first five laps.

Reid and Hatherly pushed the pace, breaking away from the group and creating a cushion to Buys by about forty seconds, with Reid further extending his lead from Hatherly in the final laps to eventually take the victory in 01:32:19.

Reid said: “The race was good with very aggressive bunch racing in the first two laps and the guys were throwing the punches early on. The biggest challenge was the traffic from the Junior race. Midway through the 6th lap, Alan and I ended up in a tangle with a junior rider and he went over the bars. This is where the separation happened. He’s a fantastic rider and I was expecting a fight at the end. I’m happy to kick the season off with the win because there’s a lot of racing and high stakes this season. It’s exciting to be part of it!”

Hatherly finished second in 01:32:40 with Buys third (01:34:28) and Du Toit and Davids rounding out the podium in 01:35:34 and 01:36:12 respectively.

British National Champion Annie Last (Novus OMX Pro Team) won the Pro-elite Women’s race by more than three minutes at the opening round of the 2016 SA XCO Cup Series in Mpumalanga on Saturday 30 January. Photo credit: http://www.omxprobike.com/

Four-time British Elite Champion and Olympian, Annie Last of the Novus OMX Pro Team, claimed the women’s victory over Kargo Pro MTB Team’s Frankie du Toit and Novus OMX teammate Mariske Strauss. Last delivered a “conservative” opening lap of 12 minutes 47 seconds and then consistently delivered 13-minute lap times to open a lead of over three minutes.

Last said: “January is still early in the season for me to race but I really enjoyed it. I felt strong and came away with a win, which is great! I was certainly mindful of overheating and rode the opening laps a little conservatively to ensure that I didn’t mess up the rest of the race. The course was really good, with some nice smooth recovery sections, some steep climbs and some great singletrack and descents.”

The Junior Men and Women opened their UCI points’ tally for the UCI Junior World Series, with Reinhard Zellhuber and Kristen Louw putting the first points on the board in their respective categories. Over 40 Junior Men lined up on the start line, which opened the way for a frenetic race.

Don’t miss round 2 of the Stihl 2016 SA XCO Cup Series, taking place at Helderberg Farms in Somerset West on 27 February. More details of the Stihl 2015 National Cup Series can be found here: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-sa-mtb-cup-series

Summary of Results – Stihl 2016 SA XCO Cup Series #1 [Mankele]

Full results are available here: http://www.cyclingsa.com/s/20160130_SA-MTB-XCO-Cup-Series-1-2016-Results-1.pdf

Pro-Elite Men (8 laps)
1. James Reid 01:32:19
2. Alan Hatherly 01:32:40
3. Philip Buys 01:34:28
4. Arno Du Toit 01:35:34
5. Brendon Davids 01:36:12
6. Marco Joubert 01:37:29
7. Marc Fourie 01:38:02
8. Jan Withaar 01:38:03
9. Julian Jessop 01:39:57
10. Stuart Marais 01:40:37

Pro-Elite Women (6 laps)
1. Annie Last (GBR) 01:20:47
2. Frances Du Toit 01:23:52
3. Mariske Strauss 01:27:19
4. Bianca Haw 01:28:41
5. Cherie Vale 01:30:00
6. Hayley Smith 01:30:05
7. Genevieve Van Coller 01:34:17
8. Candice Neethling 01:36:38

Junior Men (6 laps)
1. Reinhard Zellhuber 01:15:39
2. Pieter Du Toit 01:16:30
3. Andreas Kuhn 01:17:02

Junior Women (4 laps)
1. Kristen Louw 01:01:42
2. Christie Hearder 01:02:46
3. Nicolene Marais 01:04:10

Youth Men (5 laps)
1. Brendan Van Eeden 01:09:09
2. Wicus Breytenbach 01:09:27
3. Dawie Grobbelaar 01:09:59

Youth Women (4 laps)
1. Tiffany Keep 01:02:26
2. Zandri Strydom 01:03:52
3. Azulde Britz 01:05:32

Sub Junior Boys (4 laps)
1. Luke Moir 00:52:52
2. Travis Stedman 00:59:25
3. Zac Gerber 01:05:26

Sub Junior Girls (3 laps)
1. Chante Olivier 00:54:46
2. Marjone Strydom 01:01:16
3. Ainsli De Beer 01:06:15

Sprog Boys (4 laps)
1. Alec Coleske 00:39:53
2. Jooste Coetzee 00:40:15
3. Marcell Swartz 00:42:56

Sprog Girls (4 laps)
1. Jessica Svacha 00:56:02
2. Megan Emslie 00:56:55
3. Madison Mann 00:57:27

Nipper Boys (3 laps)
1. Aiden Wright 00:33:01
2. Connor Wright 00:33:07
3. Francois De Jager 00:33:09

Nipper Girls (3 laps)
1. Danel De Jager 00:46:27
2. Marili Nel 00:46:57

Sub Vet Men Overall (6 laps)
1. Dewald Lotter 01:22:50
2. Justin Porteous 01:25:18
3. Darryn Stow 01:25:52

Sub Vet Women Overall (4 laps)
1. Diana Carolin 01:06:34
2. Liesl Lourens 01:13:25
3. Nadine Nunes 01:18:49

Vet Men Overall (5 laps)
1. Mark Moir 01:09:16
2. Warren Price 01:10:35
3. Alan Van Coller 01:10:36

Master Men Overall (4 laps)
1. Dirk Maarsingh 00:58:10
2. Charles Stander 01:14:23