Racing in the Elite category this year, local rider Mariske Strauss was out at the front right from the get-go, retaining her position until the end of the race in very hot and dry conditions. The 23-year-old local raced a calculated race, taking into account the extra lap and time required to be completed in her new category, to take the top honours on the 6-lap, technical course.

“It was a good, hard race,” said Strauss. “The first race of the season is always an interesting one. It’s always good to be in control from the start, and I was happy to do that and just keep it together because it was very hot out there. In the second last lap, I just kicked in. I could really feel the last lap, but my training has been good and I’ve been preparing for this beforehand. It was an awesome track and there was a great vibe out there today.”

Samantha Sanders (RSA) finished in second place in 01:30:44 with Cherie Vale completing the podium in third place, in a time of 01:33:56.

Candice Neethling (RSA) won the Women’s under-23 race over 5 laps in 1 hour 15 minutes and 23 seconds with Ashleigh Moffatt (RSA) second in 01:20:26 and Hayley Smith (RSA) third in 01:21:01.

The Junior Women’s race saw Bianca Haw (RSA) take top honours over 4 laps in 01:02:48. Haw was followed by Frances du Toit (RSA) in second place in a time of 01:04:41 with Mauritian Kimberley Le Court De Billot rounding out the podium in 01:06:22.

The Elite Men’s racing followed later in the afternoon at 15:15. The tempo was high and the stacked racing groups tackled the track, all hungry for the title. It was Philip Buys who packed the final punch to take the victory over 8 laps in a time of 01:39:15. Buys’ victory did not come easy in a tight tussle with fellow South Africans Rourke Croeser and Lourens Luus.

“It was a hard race today,” said Buys. “I knew I had the shape, and I tried to wear the guys out in the first 4 laps. I really wanted to play it safe out in front for the final laps, but then I cut my wheel, and had to limp to the tech zone.

“When I rejoined, I was about a minute off the lead pace of Rourke (Croeser) and Lourens (Luus), and was lying in third place. It took me a lap to get back to them, but I rode that too quickly and it took me another lap to recover. I just made it difficult for myself, but these things do happen in mountain biking. I am very happy with the win.”

Luus claimed the silver medal in a time of 01:39:20 followed closely by Croeser in 01:40:06.

In the under-23 Men’s category, it was South African James Reid who took the title over 7 laps in a time of 01:23:54. Defending champion Brendon Davids (RSA) crossed the line in second place in 01:26:02, with Arno du Toit (RSA) finishing third in 01:26:35.

South African Stephen Senekal took top honours in the junior men category when he completed 6 laps in a time of 01:15:56. Local rider Sybrand Strauss (RSA) finished in second place in 01:16:18 with Alan Hatherly (RSA) finishing third in 01:17:35.

The full day of racing also witnessed the age group categories, which raced a number of laps according to their age. These categories ranged from the young nipper boys and girls up to the veteran women and the master men.

Racing continues tomorrow, Sunday 26 January, when the downhill competitors tackle the Contermanskloof track for the 2014 African Continental Championship. Spectators are welcome. Event venue details can be found here.

For the Programme of Events, please click here.

Summary of Results – 2014 African Continental Champs [XCO]

Click here for the full results:

Elite Men (8 laps)

1 Philip Buys RSA 01:39:15

2 Lourens Luus RSA 01:39:20

3 Rourke Croeser RSA 01:40:06

4 Renay Groustra RSA 01:40:57

5 Dominic Calitz RSA 01:43:40

Under-23 Men (7 laps)

1 James Reid RSA 01:23:54

2 Brendon Davids RSA 01:26:02

3 Arno Du Toit RSA 01:26:35

4 Jason Meaton RSA 01:30:40

5 Martin Freyer NAM 01:32:11

Junior Men (6 laps)

1 Stephan Senekal RSA 01:15:56

2 Sybrand Strauss RSA 01:16:18

3 Alan Hatherly RSA 01:17:35

4 Tristan De Lange NAM 01.18.19

5 Nicol Carstens RSA 01:18:56

Elite Women (6 laps)

1 Mariske Strauss RSA 01:29:42

2 Samantha Sanders RSA 01:30:44

3 Cherie Vale RSA 01:33:56

4 Heletje Van Staden NAM 01:21:32

5 Amy Mcdougall RSA 01:23:03

Under-23 Women (5 laps)

1 Candice Neethling RSA 01:15:23

2 Ashleigh Moffatt RSA 01:20:26

3 Hayley Smith RSA 01:21:01

4 Vera Adrian NAM 01:30:05

5 Emily Clarke RSA 01:31:01

Junior Women (4 laps)

1 Bianca Haw RSA 01:02:48

2 Frances Du Toit RSA 01:04:41

3 Kimberley Le Court De Billot MRI 01:06:22

4 Michelle Benson RSA 01:09:54

5 Genevieve Van Coller RSA 01:11:00

Nipper Boys (2 laps)

1 Alec Coleske RSA 00:22:35

2 Carlo Coetzee RSA 00:30:47

Nipper Girls (2 laps)

1 Anna Marx RSA 00:32:17

Sprog Boys (4 laps)

1 Luke Moir RSA 00:40:59

2 Matthew Lochner RSA 00:43:10

3 Matthew Wilson RSA 00:47:05

Sprog Girls (3 laps)

1 Sabine Thies RSA 00:33:39

2 Chante Olivier RSA 00:42:54

3 Sarah Van Der Walt RSA 00:45:59

Sub Junior Girls (2 laps)

1 Sonique Louw RSA 00:37:29

2 Robyn Emslie RSA 00:39:25

3 Mia De Villiers RSA 00:26:54

Sub Junior Boys (3 laps)

1 Calla De Vos RSA 00:44:25

2 Daniel Van Der Walt RSA 00:44:33

3 Jamie Penfold RSA 00:48:36

Youth Women (3 laps)

1 Saffron Vosloo RSA 00:56:28

2 Allison Morton RSA 00:57:49

3 Rachel Jeans ZIM 01:03:13

Youth Men (4 laps)

1 Herbert Peters NAM 00:54:10

2 Andrew Sparks RSA 00:55:03

3 Matthew Keyser RSA 00:55:24

Sub Vet Women Group (4 laps)

1 Genevieve Weber RSA 01:11:23 [sWA]

2 Frances Barnard RSA 01:11:50 [sWA]

3 Katerina Slegrova CZE 01:21:40 [sWA]

Sub Vet Men Group (6 laps)

1 Nico Pfitzenmaier RSA 01:17:08 [sVA 1st]

2 Nic Lamond RSA 01:22:42 [sVB 1st]

3 Jason Reed RSA 01:23:21 [sVA 2nd]

4 Ignus Oosthuizen RSA 01:23:38 [sVB 2nd]

5 Hannes Hanekom RSA 01:24:29 [sVB 3rd]

6 Michael Posthumus RSA 01:24:38 [sVA 3rd]

Veteran Women Group (4 laps)

1 Hanlie Booyens RSA 01:13:00 [VWA]

2 Ann Harrison RSA 01:15:22 [VWA]

3 Marleen Lourens RSA 01:15:25 [VWA]

Veteran Men Group (5 laps)

1 Neil Bradford RSA 01:06:57 [VMA 1st]

2 Robert Sim RSA 01:09:48 [VMB 1st]

3 Timothy Osrin RSA 01:11:05 [VMA 2nd]

4 Petrus Swiegers RSA 01:14:13 [VMB 2nd]

5 Jason Whyte RSA 01:15:30 [VMA 3rd]

8 Chris Nel RSA 01:19:05 [VMB 3rd]

Master Men Group (4 laps)

1 Doug Brown RSA 00:58:20 [MMA 1st]

2 Bob Schuiling RSA 00:59:42 [MMA 2nd]

3 Riccardo Stermin RSA 01:00:35 [MMA 3rd]

5 Lieb Loots RSA 01:02:06 [MMB 1st]

6 Jimmy Redman RSA 01:02:45 [MMB 2nd]

7 Tim James RSA 01:04:25 [MMB 3rd]