Twelve riders represented South Africa with solid representation in the under-23 men category, which had seven competitors. Saturday’s riders were faced with sunny conditions, which turned overnight and presented Sunday’s elite classes with wet conditions.

Mariske Strauss and Rourke Croeser, both in the u23 categories, achieved impressive top results for South Africa in their respective events. Strauss completed her race in 8th place, 4 minutes and 14 seconds off the pace, while Croeser finished in 12th place, 2 minutes and 8 seconds behind the leader. Also in the u23 class, James Reid, Brendon Davids and Luke Roberts finished in 23rd, 34th and 60th places respectively, with Reid finishing almost four minutes off the pace. Markus Schulte-Luenzum (GER) won the men’s u23 race in 1 hour 21 minutes 16 seconds.


Photo: Mariske Strauss (Team Contego). Photo: Mylene Loumeau/Cycling SA

Strauss was more than pleased with her result in the first UCI XCO event of the season. “I had an amazing start and I was leading until the first bit of single track. Unfortunately, I woke up with a slightly blocked nose on the morning and ran out of steam. I fell back a bit to try and recuperate, which was hardly possible on a track like this one.”

Strauss fought back with everything she had and managed to climb from 11th place and finish inside of the top ten. She was very appreciative of the support she received trackside from Croeser’s Orange Monkey team. “They sorted me out in the feedzone and were prepared in case I had encountered any mechanical issues,” continued Strauss.

“With that type of support I was able to focus on the race ahead, like missioning my bike up those steep climbs and doing some low-flying on the downhill sections. And what would a mountain bike race be without a tumble,” she laughs, as she recalls crashing hard on lap two. Fortunately, Strauss was unhurt and continues to wear her unwavering smile. Australian Rebecca Henderson won the women’s u23 race in 01:05:56.

Fellow Australian Daniel McConnell claimed victory in the elite men’s race in 01:42:36. South African Philip Buys finished 11 minutes off the pace in 57th place.

Raphael Gay (FRA) took the title in the hotly contested junior men’s race which saw him record the same winning time as second-placed local German rider Philipp Bertsch, with third place going to another Frenchman Neilo Perrin-Ganier just 1 second behind. South Africa Louw Kriel managed to stay in the race without being lapped and finished in 95thplace, nearly 13-minutes behind Gay.

Strauss and the rest of SA’s riders now prepare for round two, which takes place in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic this weekend 25-26 May.

Summary of Results – Cross-country 1 – Albstadt, Germany

Men Elite

1. Daniel McConnell (AUS) 01:42:36

2. Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (ESP) 01:42:38 +0:02

3. Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) 01:42:49 +0:13

57. Philip Buys (RSA) 01:53:39 +11:03

90. Renay Groustra (RSA) – 4laps

Men U23

1. Markus Schulte-Luenzum (GER) 01:21:16

2. Jens Schuermans (BEL) 01:21:33 +0:17

3. Michiel van der Heijden (NED) 01:21:49 +0:33

12. Rourke Croeser (RSA) 01:23:24 +2:08

23. James Reid (RSA) 01:25:14 +3:58

34. Brendon Davids (RSA) 01:27:41 +6:25

60. Luke Roberts (RSA) 01:31:12 +9:56

75. Travis Walker (RSA) -1lap

90. Arno du Toit (RSA) -2laps

101. Paul Rodenbach (RSA) -3laps

Men Junior

1. Raphael Gay (FRA) 01:11:02

2. Philipp Bertsch (GER) 01:11:02 +0:00

3. Neilo Perrin-Ganier (FRA) 01:11:03 +0:01

95. Louw Kriel (RSA) 01:23:51 +12:49

Women U23

1. Rebecca Henderson (AUS) 01:05:56

2. Jenny Rissveds (SWE) 01:06:44 +0:48

3. Yana Belomoyna (UKR) 01:06:58 +1:02

8. Mariske Strauss (RSA) 01:10:10 +4:14

Candice Neethling (RSA) DNF