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  1. Knox is a former South African Marathon MTB champion (2012 and 2016), a three-time overall winner of the National MTB Series (2012, 2015 and 2016) and represented South Africa several times at the world cross country and marathon championships. In terms of the ruling, he will be stripped of all his titles from June 16, 2015 and will have to return all prize money, prizes and medals gained since that date. Knox’s ABP was monitored from February 2013 to June 2017. Irregularities included an artificially increased haemoglobin concentration over a period of time and bone marrow stimulation followed by immediate bone marrow suppression. The ABP was reviewed in conjunction with the cyclist’s competition schedules, race results and intelligence supplied to SAIDS. Knox’s explanations and supporting documents were rejected by the international panel as not providing explanations for the ABP changes and irregularities. Mr. Knox lodged an appeal against the initial decision, but failed to file any documentation for his appeal within the prescribed filing period. Knox is one of three mountain bikers given doping bans in the past 18 months as a result of a year-long investigation and tip-offs from whistleblowers. SAIDS’s CEO, Khalid Galant, said that the convictions arose from the first phase of an investigation being undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Priority Crimes and Investigations (the Hawks). The investigation will “continue to look at athletes, medical doctors, coaches and trainers and whether they have a role in a doping supply network”. Earlier this year SAIDS announced that one of the three mountain bikers found guilty of doping offences in the investigation was Shan Wilson, who was banned for six years after being found guilty of doping on five counts. These included: the presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers in a sample; trafficking or attempted trafficking in any prohibited substance or prohibited method; and complicity (being involved with others in acts that are breaches of the regulations). Wilson was initially tested in-competition on March 25, 2014. A female mountain biker was banned for two years after an adverse analytical finding for EPO (Erythropoietin) when she was tested on the 3rd of March this year. “The investigation was triggered in significant part by whistleblowers and we are very grateful to their efforts to keep sport clean,” said Galant. “We do take tip-offs about any sporting discipline or individuals seriously and encourage people with good information to come forward. Any information remain strictly confidential and can be submitted via our website on an anonymous basis.” Max Knox's response:
  2. Barend Burger (centre front) racing calm and consistent leading the bunch on Stage 2 (Photo cred HH Photography & Design). Teams headed out on the morning of the 1st May 2018 in descending order (Unofficial to Slowest to Fastest) at 30” intervals. This was an out and back 36km route but, for those wanting to take home a win, you needed to leave it all on the tar to take home the prize. Barend Burger & Max Knox (Team Demacon), with no stage wins to their name, came in at 00:59:03 ultimately slipping in to steal the General Classification win by 1 minute. Burger comments on the win, “Consistency is key at the PPS Panorama Tour. You need to make sure you don’t burn out too early. We’ve raced the Tour before so we know what to expect and we know that in the Time Trial you can gain and lose a lot of time. We rode steady stage to stage and we’re happy that the final push in the Time Trial was enough to take the overall win.” Tokhozani Mahlangu (Left) & Thulasizwe Mxenge (Right) receiving top prize for Open Men (Photo cred: Wayne Hanscombe). Tokhozani Mahlangu & Thulasizwe Mxenge (Team PBC Pro 1), first time PPS Panorama Tour competitors, came in with a Time Trial time of 01:01:24. They fought pedal and stroke throughout the Tour for the Open Men’s prize and the Time Trial secured it - with 2 minutes to spare. Mahlangu comments on the win, “It was a tough four days, and we weren’t sure we had it at the end, but with the support of our PBC teammates and the other competitors we came out on top. We’ve learned a lot from what we’ve seen here at the PPS Panorama Tour and we aim to take what we learned and apply it to future races.” Open Women winners, pictured left to right Elmari De Wet & Sanet Coetzee (Clover Ladies) (Photo cred: Wayne Hanscombe Photography). Sanet Coetzee & Elmari De Wet (Team Clover Ladies) had a clean sweep throughout the PPS Panorama Tour, taking all four stage wins to and the Open Women’s first prize. In 2018 the PPS Panorama Tour saw an added R150 000 worth of unit trusts added to the prizes, compliments of PPS. With this, the winners will be able to invest in any of the 9 PPS unit trusts, or a combination thereof. This brought the 2018 prize money to over R260 000 in value. Izak Smit, Group CEO of PPS concludes with a few words for all the PPS Panorama Tour riders, ”From PPS we’d like to congratulate every single rider who came to participate in the PPS Panorama Tour. Whether your goal is to be on the podium or just to complete the race, it’s a win. In our eyes, every rider here is a winner.” The PPS Panorama Tour is officially over and will be back in 2019. The PPS Panorama Tour is a four-day event for teams of two, taking place from the 28th April – 1st May 2018 at Casterbridge, White River, Mpumalanga. This year's Tour boasts a revamped route that is sure to inspire and challenge even the most seasoned road cyclists. The Top Three, pictured left to right. Steven Cooke & Mike Hewan (Team Inspire) Barend Burger & Max Knox (Demacon), Nic White & Trevor Davies (Team Inspire WhiteInc). (Photo Cred: Wayne Hanscombe Photography). For more information on The Panorama Tour visit www.panoramatour.co.za. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thepanoramatour Find us on Twitter at @ThePanoramaTour or following the tag #PPSPanoramaTour #PPSPowerofTwo #Tougher2gether
  3. Lowveld Trekkers' Max Knox repeated his 2015 victory when he won the Sappi 60km Marathon at the 2017 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival on Sunday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media Conditions were frosty when riders set off to take on the famous Karkloof trails and the early racing was exciting with a bunch of riders on the front led by Lowveld Trekkers’ Knox who pushed the pace hard to try and break up the field up. “I managed to get a slight gap on the opening climb which gave me the advantage that I needed and I kept my head down from there,” Knox commented. “The trails are incredible here and we had the SA Marathon Champs last weekend, they should have just had it here this weekend! “There was a massive race in Mpumamlanga this weekend but I love Karkloof and made the effort to come down and race here.” South African Marathon Champs was an event that Knox tried to put out of his mind after he pulled out 10km into the race, however it might have been a blessing in disguise going into the Karkloof showdown. Despite putting in as big an effort as possible, Ballito Concept Cyclery's Julian Jessop had to settle for second at the Sappi 60km Marathon at the 2017 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival on Sunday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media “I had a mechanical at SA champs and so I was feeling really fresh this week and was strong throughout the race today. “Julian (Jessop) is a strong, young rider and he was always going to be a threat but I just really enjoyed my ride today,” Knox added. Jessop’s last month of mountain bike racing has been choker-block with a race every weekend; despite this a few small dramas on Sunday didn’t help him in his bid to track down the imperious Knox, meaning he had to settle for his second runner-up finish in as many years. “With massive races every week as well as university exams starting this last week, it’s been a really hectic time for me. “I had a few issues today starting with a broken spoke which cost me some time and then I had a lapse of concentration and went the wrong way! “Although these didn’t help me, I think my biggest problem was that Max was just far too strong for me today,” the Ballito Concept Cyclery star mentioned humbly. Rounding out the men’s podium was Leeroy Emslie who came home just under three minutes behind Jessop. The women’s race was always going to be a shoot-out between veteran Natalie Bergstrom and Christie-Leigh Hearder and the pair decided that they would set the pace at the front of the race right from the get-go. It was an impressive display from Natalie Bergstrom as she powered her way to victory in the ladies race in the Sappi 60km Marathon at the 2017 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival on Sunday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media “We pushed hard early on and made the decision that we would work together to get a good gap on the others. “I could see when we got to about 20km into the race that Christie was starting to hurt, so I knew that it was time for me to put the hammer down. “The trails were incredible today and the course was a lot faster than it has been in previous years, about 20 minutes faster! “I have had some problems at the race in the past two years so to get a win here is great. It’s a great feeling to be able to win a race like this when I am the oldest person on the start line,” Bergstrom said with a smile. Bergstrom dominated the ladies field finishing over eight minutes ahead of Hearder with Andrea de Boer rounding out the women’s 60km podium. The aQuellé 40km Half Marathon was a showcase of some of the up-and-coming talent on the local mountain biking scene as Travis Steadman cruising to victory ahead Duane Stander in second and Bongukuphiwe Ndlovu in third. The ladies 40km Half Marathon was won by Frances Janse van Rensberg ahead of Lindsay Everson in second and Pauline Rainbird. In the popular aQuellé 20km Fun Ride young Jordan Bold took top honours ahead of Jonathan Watts and Mnceblisi Mkhize whilst in the girl’s race Emily van Heerden, Riley Smith and Jodi Mackinnon finished first, second and third. Tiaan Odendaal claimed his third Stihl Enduro title at the 2017 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival on Saturday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media In the Stihl Karkloof Enduro on Saturday afternoon, Tiaan Odendaal, Sam Bull and Keira Duncan fought a tight battle with multiple South African downhill champion Odendaal just edging to a narrow three-second victory.By winning the final two of the four timed sections, Odendaal fought back from third place to claim the title from fellow downhill specialist Bull, with the young Duncan third. Duncan, who was leading after the first two timed sections, will rue his third split which saw him lose seven seconds to his older and more experienced rivals and cost him his chance of victory as he slipped to third, just five seconds behind the winner. In the women’s event, Sabine ‘Beani’ Thies highlighted her status as arguably the most exciting young rising star on the women’s downhill/enduro circuit with a solid victory over last year’s winner, Kathryn Fourie, while Kim Westbrook claimed third. Young Sabine Thies won her maiden Stihl Enduro title at the 2017 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival on Saturday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media Sunday’s action also included another 9km Trail Run which was won by Nicholas de Scally whilst Louize Erasmus was the fastest lady through the 9km course. More info can be found at www.karkloofmtb.co.za SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival (Day Two)60km Sappi Marathon Overall 1.Max Knox 02:29:19 2.Julian Jessop 2:37:28 3.Leeroy Emslie 2:40:01 4.Brennan Anderson 2:42:36 5.Henry Liebenberg 2:43:19 6.Jason Davies 2:47:13 7.Sthembiso Masango 2:47:53 8.Warren Price 2:47:59 9.Natahn Treble 2:48:28 10.Mitchell Ginsberg 2:48:29 Women 1.Natalie Bergstrom 3:08:32 2.Christie-Leigh Hearder 3:16:16 3.Andrea de Boer 3:21:41 4.Nadine Nunes 3:25:37 5.Landy Puddu 3:32:29 aQuellé 40km Half Marathon Overall 1.Travis Stedman 2:13:52 2.Duane Stander 2:25:30 3.Bongukuphiwa Ndlovu 2:25:45 Women 1.Frances Janse van Rensberg 2:36:29 2.Lindsay Everson 2:54:19 3.Pauline Rainbird 2:54:33 aQuellé 20km Fun Ride Overall 1.Jordan Bold 49:47 2.Jonathan Watts 53:37 3.Mnceblisi Mkhize 53:44 Girls 1.Emily van Heerden 1:02:29 2.Riley Smith 1:04:50 3.Jodi Mackinnon 1:06:20 Stihl Karkloof Enduro 1.Tiaan Odendaal 13:58 2.Samuel Bull 14:01 3.Keira Duncan 14:03 4.Christopher Pearton 15:25 5.Carl Donaldson 15:36 6.Devlin Fogg 15:39 7.Andre Pretorius 15:42 8.Mark Millar 15:49 9.Craig Scott 15:57 10.Luke Dinkel 16:04 Women 1.Sabine Thies 16:59 2.Kathryn Fourie 17:56 3.Kim Westbrook 19:44 Sappi Karkloof 9km Trail Run Overall 1.Nicholas de Scally 35:33 2.Dumisani Hlongwane 36:09 3.Roy Newlands 38:31 4.Andrew Neal 38:38 5.Dale Earle 41:05 Women 1.Louize Erasmus 49:18 2.Kate Brading 50:49 3.Nina Gough 52:54 4.Erin Ellerker 53:20 5.Nicholette Spence 53:31
  4. The riders have been selected in line with the 2017 CSA-MTB Selection Criteria. Elite Men: Nico Bell Max Knox Philip Buys Sithembiso MasangaWomen: Robyn de Groot Amy McDougall Nico Bell (NAD Pro Team) claimed the top honours in the Elite Men's race at the 2017 SA MTB Marathon Championships at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday 21 May. Photo: BOOGS Photography Those riders who qualified through the UCI World Marathon Series that intend to participate in the Marathon World Champs are required to send their information to Dellah Paul dellah@cyclingsa.com so that the entry can be processed. The 2017 edition of the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships will take the Elite Men along a 98-kilometre route and the Elite Women along an 80-kilometre route in the Hegau area of Germany, just north of the German/Swiss border. Climbs will be short but characteristically steep as the riders traverse the German countryside in pursuit of the rainbow jersey and the accolade of being dubbed the World Champion. Congratulations on your selection and we wish you every success.
  5. Cycling South Africa’s Mountain Bike Commission has great pleasure in announcing that the following riders have been selected to represent South Africa at the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships in Singen, Germany, from 24-25 June. Click here to view the article
  6. The event has attracted the likes of Max Knox and Robyn de Groot, Team Ascendis Health add to the mix Erik Kleinhans, Gordon Gilbert, Jeannie & Martin Dreyer, Julian Jessop, Natalie Bergstrom and Pierre Smith and there is sure to be some exciting racing up front for the lucrative prize money. The THIRSTI Extreme is not just about the prize money though, and offers a little something for everyone, including friends and supporters who join you for the long weekend, leave them to relax in the Wimpy Chill Zone whilst you hit the trails. There are a number of other activities on including day rides and a trail run, a big screen, beer garden, jazz and wine evening, clay pigeon shooting, Battlefields history evening, fishing, physios and bike shop repairs, all guaranteed to keep you busy between all the racing with MC Max Cluer, who is sure to keep you entertained. The THIRSTI EXTREME, South Africa’s Biggest Solo Stage Race, is taking place from the 28 – 30 April 2017, in the rolling foothills of the Northern Drakensburg, on the THIRSTI Natural Spring Water property. THIRSTI EXTREME 225: 3 days | 225 km | 4537m ascent | From R2400THIRSTI EXTREME JUNIOR 130: 3 days | 130km | 2600m ascent | From R1700 Entries Close: 5th April 2017 Don’t miss out on the limited tickets available: ENTER NOW. www.thirstiextreme.co.za https://www.facebook.com/bikehubza/videos/vb.118790128143556/1327564233932800/?type=3&theater
  7. He says his partner, powerhouse Columbian climber Hector Leonardo Paez Leon, ‘is much stronger than I am so I just try and hang on his wheel. It is all I can do. He is learning how to push me … it is the first time I have ever been pushed”. Hector Leonardo Paez Leon and Max Knox of Kansai Plascon during stage 5 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 24th March 2017. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS In spite of this and some bad luck with mechanical issues, the Kansai Plascon team have been one of the most consistent teams at this year’s event, finishing fifth on four of the six stages so far. Their best position was a fourth on Stage 2, although with 15km to go on Stage 4 they were in a strong position to win before a puncture pushed them back to fifth. Overall they are lying fourth, just 14 minutes 30 seconds behind the leaders, Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann (Scott-Sram-MTB Racing) with what is sure to be the toughest stage of this year’s race still to come. Some pundits are talking up the strong climbing duo as potential stage winners on Saturday in the tough 103km stage that contains a massive 2 750m of vertical climbing. “It has been a very hard race and we have not had our fair share of good luck, so if we can get on the podium it would be incredible, especially when you think of the incredible standard of competition at this year’s event,” said Knox after finishing Stage 5 on Friday. “There are two more hard days to go and I think a lot of people’s legs are sore, so there is still a while to go. “The Scott guys went hard (on Friday) and Sauser was ridden off the wheels with us and then I could not hold his wheel. Unfortunately then it was just damage control and hanging in there until the end. “In this Epic, to do well overall you have to be consistent and try and have as trouble-free a ride as possible. In our team the dynamics are not bad. Leonardo is a professional and he is one of the best riders in the world so it is an honour for me to ride with him and learn from him.
  8. Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann of Scott SRAM MTB Racing during stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 25th March 2017, Schurter and teammate Matthias Stirnemann were comfortable throughout Stage 6, winning ahead of South African Max Knox and his Colombian parter Hector Paez (Kansai Plascon). In doing so, they opened up a lead of almost seven minutes in the overall standings ahead of second-placed Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Investec-Songo-Specialized). Third on the day went to Nicola Rohrbach and Daniel Geismayr (Centurion Vaude 2.) Stage 6 was labelled as the 2017 Absa Cape Epic’s Queen Stage - the toughest of the seven stages. Riders set off from Oak Valley Wine Estate and were soon confronted with the major obstacle of the day, a daunting and lengthy climb up the Groenlandberg. It was on the way down from that crest that Sauser and Kulhavy’s race was effectively ended, with the former suffering yet another puncture. It allowed SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing to open their lengthy time gap. Jaroslav Kulhavy and Christoph Sauser during stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS “The plan was basically to stay with Investec-Songo-Specialized the whole day and make sure they didn’t get away from us,” said Schurter. “We thought they might make a move today, but after Christoph got a flat on the first major downhill, we were able to attack and get away. From there we just went like it was another cross-country race. For us, it’s been eight days of cross-country riding.” Once again at this Absa Cape Epic, the pace was set at the start by South Africans Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes (PYGA Euro Steel). This time they were joined by Rohrbach and Geismayr. By water point 2 the Centurion Vaude 2 pair had opened a 45 second gap between themselves and the chasing pack (PYGA Euro Steel again succumbing to their 2017 puncture curse), but soon after they were caught by SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing, the SCOTT-SRAM Young Guns and Kansai Plascon. The Young Guns then punctured with Kansai Plascon and Centurion Vaude 2 dropping off the pace after water point 3. For the final 5km it was all Schurter and Stirnemann. “I don’t know what happened today, but it was much less suffering than yesterday! It was a good day on the bike,” said Stirnemann. “Every day I feel like I am getting stronger on the bike. I recovered well last night; that showed this morning when I could get my rhythm a lot quicker.” Max Knox of Kansai Plascon during stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS By the time the riders returned to Oak Valley a big crowd had gathered, and there were huge cheers for the first South African rider home. Reigning South African marathon champion Knox and Paez (a multiple Colombian national champion) have been in good shape all week, but have been rumbled by bad luck at inopportune moments. Today things finally went their way. Knox, tired but elated with second on the day, had nothing but praise for his teammate. “The stage was tough, very tough. The pace was hard,” he said. “I have to say, my partner Hector is incredibly strong. I was riding at the limit, pushing myself to go harder the whole time. I was dropping off and barely hanging in, but Hector just kept encouraging me, kept pulling me along. He’s incredible. I have been feeling off my game all week, but he has been immense.” Thanks to a steady week-long performance and an excellent Stage 6, Knox and Paez now also find themselves in third overall at the Absa Cape Epic. “This has been such a cross-country race so far; for us marathon racers there have only been two days that suited us, one of which was today. It’s amazing to be on the podium at last and great to come second today. Nicola Rohrbach and Daniel Geismayr of Centurian Vaude 2 lead the bunch during stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS “This is such an amazing field this year; it’s been great to ride alongside world champions and Olympic champions. We’d obviously like to stay in the top three overall, but it’s not over yet. Tomorrow is another shorter day and the cross-country guys will be firing again.” After another untimely puncture, five-time champion Sauser all but conceded defeat. “I have been in these situations before, so I can deal with it, but I am obviously very disappointed,” he said. “I just had no energy on the bike, especially after the puncture. It will be hard, but I will have to get up to race again in the morning. I think now, unless there is a major catastrophe, our chances of winning are over. Nino and Matthias are too strong. I don’t think we can catch them.” 2017 Stage 6 MenStage Results 1. SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing 5-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 5-2 Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland) 4:26.38,9 2. Kansai Plascon 7-1 Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia) 7-2 Max Knox (South Africa) 4:26.55,0 +16,1 3. Centurion Vaude 2 16-1 Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland) 16-2 Daniel Geismayr (Austria) 4:27.52,2 +1.13,3 Overall Results 1. SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing 5-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 5-2 Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland) 23:37.13,3 2. Investec-Songo-Specialized 3-1 Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) 3-2 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) 23:44.02,4 +6.49,1 3. Kansai Plascon 7-1 Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia) 7-2 Max Knox (South Africa) 23:52.00,0 +14.46,7 4. Centurion Vaude 2 16-1 Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland) 16-2 Daniel Geismayr (Austria) 23:56.35,2 +19.21,9 5. Cannondale Factory Racing XC 8-1 Manuel Fumic (Germany) 8-2 Henrique Avancini (Brazil) 24:02.19,7 +25.06,4 6. Scott-SRAM Young Guns 18-1 Michiel Van der Heijden (Netherlands) 18-2 Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland) 24:11.44,0 +34.30,7 7. Bulls 1-1 Karl Platt (Germany) 1-2 Urs Huber (Switzerland) 24:26.38,7 +49.25,4 8. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 24:36.57,0 +59.43,7 9. Topeak Ergon Racing 4-1 Alban Lakata (Austria) 4-2 Kristian Hynek (Czech Republic) 24:43.04,3 +1:05.51,0 10. Centurion Vaude 6-1 Jochen Kaess (Germany) 6-2 Markus Kaufmann (Germany) 24:49.16,8 +1:12.03,5
  9. South African marathon champion, Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out) secured a dominant victory over a strong field at the inaugural two-day format race of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Sabie at the weekend. Click here to view the article
  10. The Elite Men in a tight group as they set into the fasters pace of the new two-day format for the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting Knox, a Sabie resident, made the most of his local knowledge and the muddy conditions on Saturday to secure victory in the 64.5km first stage in a time of 02 hours 36 minutes 26 seconds. He was 3:32 faster than Swiss marathon champion, Urs Huber (Team Bulls) with Philip Buys (Pyga/EuroSteel) completing the podium places in 2:41:19 On Sunday’s shorter 44km stage, Knox rode off the front on the first climb and stayed away, eventually finishing first in a time of 1:51:25. Another local racer, Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) launched a late attack from the chase pack to finish second 3:11 behind Knox. He was just a second ahead of a group dash for third place, won by Buys. With the two stage times combined, Knox claimed the overall fastest time and maximum points for the second round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB series. Huber was second more than six minutes back with Buys claiming third on the combined classification. Nico Bell leading teammate Gawie Combrink (Team NAD Pro) up the steep Sabie assent during the first stage of the Ashburton National MTB Series Sabie. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting “I felt very motivated after Saturday’s win. Obviously Sabie is a big one for me being from here and having so much local support. With two shortish stages, the race had to be very explosive. I love it! It’s very dynamic and thanks to Advendurance for making the change to suit the rider’s needs,” said Knox. “In the off season I concentrated more on speed than endurance compared to previous years because of this new format. It paid off today! It’s always nice to win in front of family and friends and race on my home trails,” added Knox. Huber, winner of the Sabie round of the series in 2014 and 2016, admitted the new format didn’t suit him. “It was just full gas from the beginning today. But it was really nice. The trails are really nice and the weather was better than yesterday. So I could enjoy it a little bit more, but I also had to suffer today. Two hours on these trails is enough,” smiled Huber. “I think the new two-day format is interesting. Nothing is decided after the first day. Another long stage would be really nice though, especially for me because I like the long races,” added Huber. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting. Bell also said the new format would take some getting used to. “I prefer the longer events over five hours where you can catch guys towards the end. This new format is hard from the start and you have to hang in! On every hill you have to try and stay on the front and if you’re feeling good, try and attack. I thought the Bulls would try and chase Max. Towards the middle of the stage I started to feel good and I put in some attacks later on. My flyer with about a kay left stuck and I managed to get second on the stage,” said Bell. Gert Heyns of Ascendis Health was the most prominent of the chasers on Sunday’s stage, but ended up finishing fourth. “It was fast and exciting from the start. It was hard to get away from the group – I tried a few times but they caught me each time. I think this format is a lot more exciting and good for the racing in general,” said Heyns. “Max started with quite a speed up first the climb. I tried to follow him but just couldn’t stay on his wheel. Once the chase group formed, nobody seemed to want to work to close the gap, so we pretty much ended up racing each other for second,” added Heyns. Germany’s Karl Platt, five-time Absa Cape Epic winner, struggled during Saturday’s stage, but had a better day on Sunday. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting. “Today was fun and much better than yesterday. Yesterday I really didn’t have a nice day. I tried to show today that I was still there. Today was a lot of fun riding these trails on York Timber’s land. The new format is interesting and the shorter distances are good for our speed, which is good for our training,” said the Bulls rider. The Ashburton Investments National MTB Series now moves to South Africa’s Free State province for Round 3, on 8-9 April. For more information or to enter, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com. Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 2, Sabie Leading resultsMarathon Elite men Stage 1: 1 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 2:36:26 2 Urs Huber (SUI) Team Bulls 2:39:58 3 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga/EuroSteel 2:41:19 4 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:42:36 5 Arno du Toit (RSA) LCB Racing 2:42:44 6 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:43:01 7 Lourens Luus (RSA) ADRS 2:43:57 8 Travis Walker (RSA) ASG 2:46:00 9 Heine Engelbrecht (RSA) 2:47:02 10 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga/EuroSteel 2:48:39 Elite men Stage 2: 1 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 1:51:25 2 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 1:54:36 3 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga/EuroSteel 1:54:37 4 Gert Heyns (RSA) Ascendis Health 1:54:37 5 Urs Huber (SUI) Team Bulls 1:54:38 6 Karl Platt (GERO Team Bulls 1:54:41 7 Travis Walker (RSA) ASG 1:55:29 8 Martin Frey (GER) OMX Pro 1:57:04 9 Arno du Toit (RSA) LCB Racing 1:58:47 10 HB Kruger (RSA) Team Telkom 2:00:31 Elite men combined – final positions: 1 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 4:27:51 2 Urs Huber (SUI) Team Bulls 4:34:36 3 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga/EuroSteel 4:35:56 4 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 4:37:12 5 Travis Walker (RSA) ASG 4:41:29 6 Arno du Toit (RSA) LCB Racing 4:41:31 7 Gert Heyns (RSA) Ascendis Health 4:43:17 8 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD Pro 4:47:58 9 Waylon Woolcock (RSA) Team Telkom 4:49:12 10 HB Kruger (RSA) Team Telkom 4:51:35 Half-marathon Males combined – final positions: 1 Keagan Bontekoning 3:16:27 2 Wicus Breytenbach 3:16:42 3 Marc Oliver Pritzen 3:24:02 For full marathon and half-marathon results visit www.saseeding.org.
  11. Now two South Africans in the 2017 field have put their faith in foreigners: Max Knox will be riding with Colombian legend Héctor Leonardo Páez Leon (Kansai Plascon) and young Matt Beers with Switzerland’s Konny Looser (RED-E/Ryder). Ewald Sadie. Cape Epic. Sportzpics. Knox, 29, represents the current generation of marathon specialists and was in compelling form in 2016. Beers is only 23 and his natural ability and appetite for hard work suggest he will be a star of the next generation. “Obviously the overall win is our main objective. But with it being a very new partnership with Leo and being the Cape Epic, where so much can go wrong, that will be a big challenge, says Knox, who won both the South African marathon championship and the National Marathon Series in 2016. “If we end up on another step of the overall podium that will be good, but the win is our main objective. Some stage wins may present themselves if we are in the mix for the overall, we will grab those opportunities of course,” says Knox, a seven-times Cape Epic finisher. Páez concurs: “I am going to try and win the race overall. I am going to rely on Max for the knowledge of the race and the conditions.” The Colombian was leading the Marathon World Championships in 2016 before a mechanical ended his title aspirations. Now he has set his sights on the world’s foremost mountain bike stage race. “I have heard a lot about the Cape Epic. I know it is the toughest stage race in the world and the most important one to win. If you are a serious mountain bike racer you must try to compete in the Cape Epic at least once,” Páez says. “I am looking forward to this experience. I have seen videos of the race on the internet and can see that it can be very hot and dry and that the surfaces are very rough in places. This means you need to look after your body and your bike every day or else you will be in trouble.” The fact that Knox and Páez are deadly serious is also evident in the fact that they will bring a support team: Italians Mirko Pirazzoli and Alessandro Gambino will back them up over the eight days and be on hand to help sort out mechanical issues if required. Nick Muzik. Cape Epic. Sportzpics. Looser and Beers have been putting in the hours in training but are cautious about making any predictions: “We are definitely not (among the favourites) for the overall podium, but I hope we can use this to our benefit and start the race with little pressure … which will maybe help us to calm down before the race,” laughs the Swiss star. “Personally, I think we should be able to finish the General Classification somewhere in the top 10, but our main goal will be to get on the podium on some stages.” Beers will bring his local knowledge to the partnership, but Looser has also been a familiar – and often successful – figure at stage races in the country in recent years. Beers says of the 2017 route: “I know a lot of the riding in those areas, especially Grabouw and Hermanus as I've done quite a few local races through those areas. It’s going to be extremely physically challenging, that’s for sure. You really have to work the bike on the trails around there. I actually haven't ridden in Greyton but I've heard it’s tough with super steep climbs. “I think the route this year is really going to separate the men from the boys, and I hope I'm one of those men.” Knox thinks it will suit him and Páez. “It looks like a balanced but challenging route,” he says. “I like that there is quite a high ratio of climbing and that there aren’t many places where guys can hide in a bunch. Lots of singletrack suits us, as does lots of climbing – especially steep, technical climbs. I think it’s a route that we can do well on.” He and Páez will only train together for total of 10 days before the Cape Epic, but Knox is not too concerned: “I will meet Leo in person for the first time in early March when he flies out here to prepare. He is one of the world’s best marathon racers, having two thirds and a fourth at the Marathon World Champs in recent years. We are both strong climbers and with cross country racing backgrounds are both skilled enough to race technical descents and singletrack well. “Leo doesn’t speak much English and I don’t speak Spanish, so communication could be a challenge,” admits Knox. “But at the end of the day, we are both mountain bike racers with the same objectives and that will hopefully be enough.” Beers explained how he and Looser came to race together: “We don't have teammates here in SA to partner with for stage races. We have raced (against each other) in the past and did well and we get on really well, so we chatted at one of the races and said let’s try be teammates for stage races in SA. Through the help and support of my sponsors we managed to get it right.” Nick Muzik. Cape Epic. Sportzpics. His partner Looser, a four-time Cape Epic finisher, says his mountain biking dream is to finish in the race’s top three: “For me, it's still the biggest and most prestigious race in the world of marathon mountain biking. As long as I'm riding, it will be my dream to finish this race once on the GC podium. The race, the route … everything is so challenging and I really like to test myself in the hardest race of the world.” Beers debuted in 2016 with another local rider, Oliver Munnik, and says “how painless and organised everything is was a real eye-opener … it really is on another level”. “The race itself is insane … nothing can prepare you enough for just how hard it really is.”
  12. No all-South African team has won the Absa Cape Epic overall, but riders from this country have enjoyed success across many categories when partnered with foreigners. Most notable among these was Burry Stander, who triumphed three times with Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser. Click here to view the article
  13. Current South African champion, Max Knox, will team up with multiple Colombian champion, Héctor Leonardo Páez Leon as Team Kansai Plascon in an effort to try and win the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. It will be Knox’s ninth start in the world’s most prestigious mountain bike stage race, but a first for Paez, one of the world’s leading marathon racers. Click here to view the article
  14. Paez (34) is the bronze medalist from the 2013 and 2015 International Cycling Union Marathon World Championships and finished fourth in 2016 after being delayed by a mechanical, just 4km from the finish while in the lead. He also won the 2014 Alpentour Trophy, a tough four-day stage race in Austria, as well as the Volcat GP in Catalonia earlier this year, confirming his stage-racing prowess. Colombia’s Leo Páez, pictured here wearing the leader’s jersey at the Volcat GP in Catalonia earlier this year, will be teamed up with South African champion, Max Knox, as Team Kansai Plascon for the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: Volcat GP/ www.fotoesportbcn.com The only South African to have won the Cape Epic overall was the late Burry Stander (2011 and 2012) and, after Namibian racing legend, Mannie Heymans, just the second rider from the Southern Hemisphere to stand on the coveted final podium top step. As Team Kansai Plascon, Knox and Paez are eager to add their names to those statistics. For Knox (29), Cape Epic victory remains a motivating factor. He won both the national marathon title and the national marathon series in 2016 and feels he has reached a level that will enable him to be able to compete for the overall win. “Many of my Cape Epics were as a back-up rider to a higher profile team. I didn’t do the race in 2016, but am excited to give it a full go with Team Kansai Plascon next year. It’s shaping up to be a strong field which will increase the pressure and the racing intensity – conditions I thrive on,” said Knox. “I haven’t met Leo (Paez) yet, but I have followed him online and I understand that we have similar strengths. We are both light and strong climbers, but also have good skill levels from having competed in cross-country racing. I will obviously use my Cape Epic experience to guide Leo and we have a strong back-up team, which is essential if you want to be in a position to win the Cape Epic these days,” said Knox. South African champion, Max Knox, pictured here during Round 4 of the 2016 Ashburton Investments National Series, will be teamed up with multiple Colombian champion, Leo Páez, as Team Kansai Plascon for the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za The back-up team, Kansai Plascon 2, comprises experienced Italian racers, Mirko Pirazzoli and Alessandro Gambino, who are teammates of Paez on the Polimedical FRM Threeface team, based in Italy. Both riders are also accomplished bicycle mechanics, which may come in useful should Knox or Paez encounter any major mechanical problems during the race “A professional mountain bike racer must participate at least once in the Cape Epic, the toughest stage race in the world. With the support of Kansai Plascon as well as other sponsors, Polimedical, FRM, Threeface and This Way Out, I will have this opportunity. And it looks like 2017 will be a great year to compete because it has a very strong start list already,” said Paez. “In Max Knox I will have an experienced partner and we will have very good team support as well. We will be going into the race not to just finish, but to fight for the overall title,” added Paez, who will arrive in South Africa in early March to begin his preparation with Knox. As Africa’s largest paint manufacturer, Kansai Plascon (the world’s sixth largest coatings company) is the premium choice in retail, professional, industrial, furniture and automotive coatings markets across the continent. “The opportunity to sponsor a top Professional team at the Cape Epic is an opportunity we just had to take,” said Derek Botha, Head of Group Marketing for Kansai Plascon. “The Cape Epic is the iconic mountain biking stage race globally, just as Plascon is the most iconic coatings brand in Africa. The Cape Epic gives us an incredible platform for our brand as well as an opportunity to engage with consumers and our customers in a unique manner. The Kansai paint group is a global coatings company with operations on almost every continent. This global collaboration is evident in the make-up of our team with our top riders from South Africa, Columbia and Italy who have one goal, and that is to win this most prestigious event.” Team Kansai Plascon 1 Name: Héctor Leonardo Páez León Country: Colombia Epics completed: None Nickname: Leo Age: 34 Weight: 67 kg Height: 178 Profession: Professional mountain bike racer for Team POLIMEDICAL FRM Bike: FRM Anakin Components: FRM Components / SRAM Eagle I entered the Absa Cape Epic... because it’s the most important mountain bike stage race and I would like to try and win it. Best results: 2012 and 2016 Colombian national XCO champion; 2014 Alpentour Trophy winner; 2013 UCI Marathon World Championships bronze medal; 2015 UCI Marathon World Championships bronze medal; 2016 UCI Marathon World Championships 4th. Name: Max Knox Country: South Africa Epics Completed: 7 Nickname: Max Age: 29 Weight: 65kg Height: 1.77m Profession: Professional mountain bike racer Bike: Rocky Mountain Element 999RSL Components: SRAM XX1 I entered the Absa Cape Epic...
to try and become the second South African to win it. Best results: 2012 South African Marathon Champion; 2016 South African Marathon Champion; 2012 MTN National Marathon Series winner; 2016 Ashburton Investments National Marathon Series winner; 2011 Cape Pioneer Trek winner. Follow Team Kansai Plascon’s progress on twitter: @TeamPlascon. For more information on Plascon, visit www.plascon.co.za
  15. South Africa’s leading marathon mountain bike racer, Max Knox, will race on Rocky Mountain bikes in 2017. The 29-year-old Knox won both the South African marathon championship and the Ashburton Investment National Marathon Series in 2016 and has set his sights on an expanded racing programme in 2017. Click here to view the article
  16. South African champion, Max Knox, gets familiar with the 2016 Rocky Mountain Element 990RSL in Johannesburg last week. Photo credit: Dino Lloyd Rocky Mountain is a Canadian-based international bicycle brand, which has been producing premium performance mountain bikes since 1981. It has achieved international success in various forms of mountain bike racing over the past 35 years, including overall victory in the inaugural Absa Cape Epic in 2004. Knox will be racing on the Rocky Mountain Element 999RSL, the brand’s flagship marathon/XC model, which has recently been refined with more stable (and adjustable) geometry, more efficient suspension and the accommodation of two bottles inside the main frame, making it what Rocky Mountain believes is the ideal marathon or stage race bike. “Max has shown this year that he’s really matured into a classy, consistent marathon racer. He’s reaching an age where he is likely to develop even further as an endurance athlete and we are pleased to have him competing on a Rocky Mountain Element,” said Hylton English, Rocky Mountain brand manager. “I’ve been racing full time for over a decade and have confirmed in the past two years that marathons and stage races are indeed my greatest strength. After one of my most successful years, I am looking forward to expanding on that into 2017. I’ve done a few weeks of riding on the 2016 Rocky Mountain Element 990RSL already and am thrilled with the bike,” said Knox. “I’m looking forward to the arrival of the new Element 999RSL in January and am excited to be racing on one of the world’s premier mountain bike brands. My 2017 season will be slightly different to 2016, but will still be focussed around marathons and stage races, mostly in South Africa,” added Knox. Knox will also be supported by Helly Hansen casual wear, Northwave performance clothing, shoes, helmets and gloves, adidas eyewear and This Way Out, an outdoor sport retail store chain. His title sponsor will be New Holland Agriculture. For more information on Rocky Mountain bikes, visit www.hullabaloo.co.za.
  17. South African marathon champions, Max Knox and Robyn de Groot are fired up ahead of Saturday’s seventh and final round of the 2016 Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series at Rooiberg in the Limpopo province. Click here to view the article
  18. The elite men lining up on the start line at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Rooiberg in 2015. With four wins in the last four rounds, Knox (Lowveld Tractors) has essentially tied up the overall series win in the Elite men’s category, but the Sabie resident has never won at Rooiberg and says that it’s one race he’s eager to add to his growing list of victories. “I really like the Rooiberg course, but I’ve never been able to win there. I’m hoping that will change this weekend. I’ve haven’t raced hard in the past few weeks and I’m feeling strong and confident. It will be good to end the series off with a win, but nothing is certain in mountain biking and I need to ride a smart race,” said Knox. Knox will be up against strong contenders in the Team NAD duo of Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck, who recently won the Three Towers Stage Race in Mpumalanga. Bell and Combrinck are lying second and third respectively behind Knox in the Ashburton Investments Series standings. Combrinck, winner at Rooiberg last year, was runner-up to Knox at Round 6, with Bell runner-up at Rounds 4 and 5. Both will be eager to finish the prestigious series with a victory. A crocodile busking in the morning sun at Rooiberg as Darren Lill rides past, followed closely by Philip Buys and Max Knox. Also confirmed on the start list is the SCOTT LCB Factory Racing pair of Philip Buys and Arno du Toit. The technical route on the ultra-marathon should suit them and they’ll certainly be podium contenders, as will Lourens Luus (PSG Wealth), who was fourth at Rounds 4 and 5. Konny Looser (BIXS) will also be on the start line. The Swiss racer had mechanical problems at Rooiberg last year, which pretty much cost him the National Series overall title. He’ll be eager for some redemption on Saturday. He is also on the road to recovery from illness earlier this year. Konny Looser, the Swiss racer maintaining a steady lead back in 2015 at Rooiberg before disaster struck with a mechanical problem. “I’m finally back in South Africa and also recovered from surgery to the main artery in my right leg. I’m more excited than ever to race the big events and would love to have a good result at Rooiberg,” said Looser.Riders’ final series points are calculated on their best five results. So for De Groot (Ascendis Health), who missed Rounds 4 and 5 due to injury, a victory is virtually a must if she is to defend her National Series title. Her three wins – at Rounds 2, 3 and 6 put her in third place behind Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia), first and second respectively in the series. “I’m really looking forward to this race. I’m growing stronger each week after returning from my injury layoff and I’m excited from some proper mountain biking on the rougher terrain at Rooiberg,” said De Groot. McDougall is sitting out the final round due to fatigue, while her Valencia teammate, Samantha Saunders, will also be conspicuously absent as she is representing South Africa at the road cycling world championships abroad. Joining Ralph and De Groot on the start line will be De Groot’s Ascendis Health teammate, Jennie Stenerhag and Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling). The elite women, lead by Robyn de Groot and Samantha Sanders at round 3 of the series in Clarens. Stenerhag recently successfully defended her Swedish national marathon title, so arrives with good form, while Bell, currently fifth in the rankings, will be eager to get her first podium of the 2016 series. The routes have all been made shorter and/or faster compared to those used previously. There is also more singletrack. These changes are is sure to result in a tighter contest in each of the distances. The Elite women will tackle a 70km course with 1 120 metres of ascent, while the Elite men will do battle over a 97km course with 1 689 metres of climbing. The popular half-marathon is 45km with 455 metres of elevation and there is also a 20km Fun Race and a 10km Family Fun Ride. A giraffe spectating the Rooiberg race in 2015. A variety of game and sights are up on offer at the Rooiberg venue. “Rooiberg is just a two-hour drive from Pretoria. We cater very well for supporters so the day trip is worthwhile. But there is also Tented accommodation available for those that want to arrive on Friday,” said Wessel van der Walt of Advendurance, the organisers. Entries are still open and can be done online at www.nationalmtbseries.com. Ashburton Investments Series Round 7, Ukhutula Lodge, Rooiberg:Friday 14 October: Registration: 10h00-14h00: Lynwood Cyclery 16h00-19h00: At race venue Saturday 15 October 06h00-09h50: Registration and late entries 07h00: Riders briefing, leader jerseys handover 07h15: Start Ultra-marathon Pro/Elite 07h25: Start Marathon Ladies A Batch 07h35: Start Ultra-marathon Amateur 08h00: Start Marathon A. Batches + 3 min intervals 09h00: Start Half-marathon A. Batches + 5 min intervals 09h40: Start Fun Race A. Batches + 5min intervals 09h55: Start Fun Ride all 13h00: Prize Giving For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com.
  19. It was the fourth Ashburton Investments National MTB Series win in succession for Knox (Lowveld Tractors), who wrapped up the 2016 men’s Series title with a perfect score of 16000 (riders get 4000 points for a win). The best five results are used after the seventh and final round to determine the final standing, but with four victories, Knox cannot be beaten even if someone else wins, he just needs to finish and score some points to stay ahead of Nico Bell the defending series champion. De Groot’s (Ascendis Health) win was her third in the Series, putting her in contention to retain the title with a good finish at the final round next month. Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia), second at the weekend, still leads the women’s Series with 16514 points, while Samantha Saunders (Valencia), third at Dullstroom, is a close third on 14960. The overall series will only be determined at the final round and any of the top five ranked women can take the title at this point. Max Knox (left) and Gawie Combrinck (right) batting it out on the early race climb. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Perfect weather greeted the riders at Dullstroom on Saturday and with the men’s race 15km shorter than the 2015 edition at 98km, the intensity was expected to be as high as the altitude, which rises in excess of 2200 metres above sea level. The full SCOTT LCB Factory Racing team of Gert Heyns, Arno du Toit, Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes ensured the race started fast and split quite early on. The small lead pack of eight comprised three members of the SCOTT LCB team, Matt Beers (Red-E Cannondale), Gawie Combrinck, Knox and Johann Rabie (Team Telkom). Then, at 55km on the race’s big climb, Knox was setting the pace, which proved too quick for his rivals. He then continued on alone to the finish to clock a winning time of 03 hours 52 minutes 47 seconds. Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD) finished second in 04:00:21 with Beukes claiming third place in 4:01:42. Buys and HB Kruger (Team Telkom) rounded out the top five positions respectively. Combrinck’s podium place made up for the fact that his NAD teammate and Series leader, Nico Bell, had to drop out at 70km after suffering with a virus all week. Bell is still second in the series rankings going into the final round. “Everything went perfectly for me today. The bunch was a bit smaller but it was a quality field. The SCOTT LCB guys were very positive and pushed the pace hard from the beginning. I knew they’d struggle towards the end though because they’ve focussed mainly on XC this year and aren’t used to the longer duration of these ultra-marathons,” said Knox. “On the big climb at around 55km, I saw the guys were hurting a bit so I set a steady pace and managed to get a small gap over the top. I knew that if could maintain a good pace from there and through the rough last 20km, it would be difficult for anyone to catch me. I’m happy to have stayed away,” smiled Knox. “Max has got really good form. I had a bit of a rest and am starting to build up for the last part of the year. I just didn’t’ have the legs to go with Max up the big climb. But I do enjoy this course. I like the long climbs and I seem to do well at altitude,” said a satisfied Combrinck. “I’m quite happy with third place,” said Beukes, “I wasn’t sure how the altitude would affect me and I didn’t feel great initially. For the first hour and a half I held back. As soon as we hit the big climb Max went and no one could respond to that. I held back a bit and then with 30km to go I felt good so I went for it. I trained for this race for the past six weeks so am happy to get on the podium.” Robyn de Groot setting the pace and making easy work of the Dullstroom's higher altitude. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za In the women’s race, the course and the altitude took its toll. A group of three formed at the front early on comprising De Groot, McDougall and Sanders. First Sanders dropped off the pace at around 12km and then McDougall at around 18km, leaving De Groot in the lead for most of the race. The Ascendis Health rider kept a steady pace to finish in a time of 03:12:03.McDougall was second in 3:18:16 with Sanders third in 3:19:35. Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) and Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling) were fourth and fifth respectively. “This was an important win for myself and my sponsors. They’ve been very patient in letting me take the time to get back after my injury. I’m happy with this one,” said a delighted De Groot. “Coming from sea level to altitude I didn’t know how my body would respond. But I’m pretty happy with how it went and I’m looking forward to the last round at Rooiberg now, which has a challenging course and should make for a great Series decider,” added De Groot. “I definitely surprised myself after quite a substandard performance last week. I’m very happy with second place. With longer climbs and more technical sections, the course suits me. Living in Joburg, we have an altitude advantage over those from the coast I think. I’m looking forward to the last round at Rooiberg where the conditions and terrain suit me,” smiled McDougall. The Ashburton Investments National MTB Series now moves to South Africa’s Limpopo province for Round 7, 15 October. For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.co.za. For For full results of Round 6 at Dullstroom, visit: www.saseeding.co.za 2016 Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series Round 6, Dullstroom, Saturday 3 September 2016 Leading results Elite men – 98km Ultra-marathon: 1 Max Knox (Lowveld Tractors) 3:52:47 2 Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD) 03:59:11 3 Matthys Beukes (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing) 04:00:21 4 Philip Buys (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing) 04:01:42 5 HB Kruger (Telkom) 04:02:59 6 Johann Rabie (Telkom) 04:04:30 7 Timothy Hammond (04:05:30 8 Thinus Redelinghuys (Jeep) 04:07:05 9 Matthew Beers (Red-E Cannondale) 04:10:48 10 Arno Du Tiot (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing) 04:11:29 Elite women – 70km marathon: 1 Robyn De Groot (Ascendis Health) 03:12:03 2 Amy McDougall (Valencia) 03:18:16 3 Samantha Sanders (Valencia) 03:19:35 4 Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) 03:22:24 5 Venessa Bell (Bells Cycling) 03:24:33 6 Dalene van der Leek 03:41:14 7 Rozalia Kubyana 03:45:08 8 Bonny Swanepoel 03:48:30 9 Carly Kent 03:59:13 10 Natasha Viviers 04:09:13 2016 Series Standings Elite men 1 Max Knox - 19605 2 Nico Bell - 17748 3 HB Kruger -16185 4 Gert Heyns - 16178 5 Waylon Woolcock - 15862 6 Lourens Luus - 15411 7 Gawie Combrinck - 12671 8 Matthew Beers - 11440 9 Timothy Hammond - 10868 10 Thinus Redelinghuys - 10467 Elite women 1 Amy McDougall - 16514 2 Robyn De Groot - 15474 3 Samantha Sanders - 14960 4 Vanessa Bell - 13240 5 Theresa Ralph - 13147 6 Candice Neethling - 10962 7 Mariette Hattingh - 7460 8 Ariane Kleinhans - 7362 9 Carmen Buchacher - 5694 10 Emily Clarke - 5614
  20. Max Knox and Robyn de Groot continued their winning ways when they claimed the men and women’s titles respectively at Round 6 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Dullstroom, Mpumalanga at the weekend. The two current South African champions won in dominant fashion on a tough course at relatively high altitude. Click here to view the article
  21. Knox, overall winner of the prestigious series in 2013 and 2015, won the last three rounds of the 2016 series and sits in third on the total points standing. The Sabie resident also won the Dullstroom round of the series last year, on a course that’s not particularly long, but which takes riders above 2000 metres above sea level to an altitude that’s uncomfortable for some. Knox confirmed his good form when he outsprinted a strong field to win the Nissan TrailSeeker Series event over 63km last Saturday. Max Knox powering up the misty hills of Dullstroom in the 2015 Ashburton Investments Nat MTB Series. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “That Nissan race was quite short and there weren’t any big climbs and nothing really technical. It didn’t suit me much at all so I was very happy to take the win. But the Dullstroom course suits me perfectly and is one of my favourite routes. I’m super keen to race there again this weekend and my goal is to try and defend the title I won there last year,” said Knox. Knox missed the opening round of the series and has accumulated a total of 15605 points from the last four rounds. Ahead of him in the standings are Waylon Woolcock (USN Purefit) who is second on 15862 points with Nico Bell (Team NAD), the 2014 Series winner, leading on 17748. A win is worth 4000 points with subsequent positions allocated based on position, time behind the winner and number of riders in the race. Woolcock will miss this Saturday’s race, but Bell will be on the start line, eager to maintain his lead in the Series and avenge the narrow defeat to Knox in the sprint last Saturday. Bell will have the support of his Team NAD teammate, Gawie Combrinck, the 2015 national champion. The pair live and train in nearby Nelpsruit and are sure to pose a formidable threat to Knox’s aspirations. Defending Champion Max Knox taking the win at Dullstroom in 2015. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Lourens Luus, originally from nearby Sabie, now living in Stellenbosch, is also a strong contender for the title on Saturday. The Team PSG Wealth rider won the race in 2014 and is feeling confident after strong recent results. “I like the course, I think it suits my strengths. But we’ll have to see about the altitude and how it affects me,” said Luus. Another potential title contender is Gert Heyns. The SCOTT LCB Factory Racing rider will have all three of his teammates in the race, namely Arno du Toit, Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys. “My training has been going very well and I like that the route has been made more technical, which obviously suits our whole team with our XCO racing foundation. The only unknown factor really is if the altitude will affect any of us adversely,” said Heyns. Team Telkom’s HB Kruger and Johann Rabie will also be in the mix. It will be Kruger’s first appearance at Dullstroom. “I’m a little unsure of the altitude, but I’m feeling in good form and I’m aiming for a podium place,” said Kruger. Among the women, the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series battle is proving to be a close one. National champion and Series winner for the past two years, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health), was forced to miss Rounds 4 and 5 due to a shoulder injury. This has opened the title-race up somewhat and African marathon champion, Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) is the current leader with 12768 points. De Groot, who won Rounds 2 and 3, is in second with 11484 points, while Samantha Sanders (Valencia), winner of Round 5, is a close third on 11366. “I’m excited to race at Dullstroom this weekend. The course looks great! I am still a bit fatigued from racing the Ironbike stage race in Europe last month so I hope to be able to be as competitive as possible,” said McDougall. For De Groot, just racing again is a small victory following almost three months out of competition. But the Ascendis Health rider has won the Dullstroom race for the past two years and must go into the event as the favourite, especially following her victory over Sanders as last weekends’ Nissan TrailSeeker race. Robyn de Groot expertly taking on Meerndal's singletrack earlier this year at the Ashburton NatMTB Series. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Another strong podium contender in Dullstroom will be Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk). “I’m looking forward to another good battle in what is quite a competitive women’s category currently. My form is quite good and I’m looking forward to what seems like a tough course at altitude. It’s also a great mountain biking weekend away and my family will be doing the shorter events on Sunday,” smiled Ralph. The Ultra-marathon will be contested on a course that’s just 98km long, but which has a total ascent of 1824 metres, and which keeps the riders close to an average of 2000 metres above sea level, which adds to the difficulty factor. The marathon course is 70km long with an accumulated elevation of 1411 metres. The Ultra-marathon and marathon races will be held on Saturday. On Sunday the Half-marathon (40km), Fun Race (24km) and Fun Ride (10km) will take place. Entries are still open and can be done online at www.nationalmtbseries.com. Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Round 6, Dunkeld Country Estate, Dullstroom:Saturday 3 September and Sunday 4 September 2016: Friday 2 September 16h00-19h00: Registration and late entries – Dullstroom Reservations, Main Road, Dullstroom Saturday 3 September 06h00-09h00: Registration and late entries 06h45: Riders briefing, leader jerseys handover 07h00: Start Ultra-marathon Pro/Elite 07h10: Start Marathon Ladies A Batch 07h20: Start Ultra-marathon Amateur 07h30: Start Marathon A. Batches + 5 min intervals 13h00: Prize Giving Sunday 4 September 06h00-09h00: Registration and late entries 07h15: Riders briefing, leader jerseys handover 07h30: Start Half-marathon A. Batches + 5 min intervals 08h20: Start Fun Race A. Batches + 5min intervals 08h30: Start Fun Ride all 12h00: Prize Giving For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com
  22. South African champion, Max Knox (Lowveld Tractors) will be gunning for a fourth consecutive victory as he aims to secure the 2016 Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series title at the penultimate round at Dullstroom on Saturday. Click here to view the article
  23. Both riders were forced to sprint for their victories at the end of the 63km race, which took place at Legends MX, a new mountain biking venue to the east of Pretoria. In the men’s race, Knox (New Holland Agriculture) came out on top when a five-rider sprint was needed to decide the podium positions after a close race on a course that wasn’t particularly long, hilly or technical. Knox clocked a fast winning time of 02 hours 08 minutes in what was his fifth consecutive marathon victory. He narrowly beat Nico Bell (Team NAD) to the line with SCOTT LCB Factory Racing’s Arno du Toit taking third place. Team NAD’s Gawie Combrinck and Jan Withaar were fourth and fifth respectively in one of the closest finishes ever seen at a South African marathon race. “I recced the last bit of the course before the race and I knew that the rider in front coming into the final turn would win the race. The front rider gets the straightest, fastest line at the end and the others are limited by barriers and then have to go wide to get around the front guy. I managed to be the front guy at the last corner and then just kept on the gas to the finish line,” explained Knox. “The speed was fast from the beginning. With no big hills it’s not a course that really suits me as it’s very difficult to get away. So it became a very tactical race, which makes it more interesting. To win on that course was a real bonus for me,” smiled Knox. Max Knox and Nico Bell crossing the finish line centimeters apart, with Arno du Toit rounding off the podium. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “With the shorter distance races like this one, you see the XC specialists in the mix which makes it bit more competitive and adds to the excitement,” said runner-up Bell. “The last few corners were quite sketchy and it was hard to maintain traction at the speed we were coming in. I’ve been a very close second now in the last two races. I need to work on my sprint I guess,” added Bell. In the women’s race the sprint was between De Groot (Ascendis Health) and the in-from Samantha Sanders (Valencia), winner of Round 2 of the Nissan TrailSeeker Series. It was De Groot’s first race since May when a crash resulted in surgery to repair an injured shoulder. De Groot and Sanders moved clear of the women’s lead pack on one of the few climbs and they paced together to maintain their lead over their rivals, clocking a time of 2:22:55. Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) finished third in 2:24:28. “Great to be back racing and see familiar faces again. It was a pretty flat, dusty course, but good to be out there again. Nice to see more competition at the top of the women’s race,” said De Groot. “It was good to have Robyn back and her presence certainly helped make the race more exciting,” said Sanders. “It was quite a flat route so there was a bunch of us for most of the race. On one climb Robyn and I got a gap, which we held to the end. But while the race was flat, it was still hard. You don’t get any chance to recover really,” added Sanders. The elite ladies lead by Samantha Sanders, Robyn de Groot, Amy-Beth McDougall and Theresa Ralph. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Close to 2500 mountain bikers competed in the four different distances on offer, with the biggest number in the half-marathon where Wessel Botha and Bonny Swanepoel were the male and female winners respectively. “It’s always exciting to find new race venues close to home for Gauteng riders. It’s quite flat and fast but there are is some really nice singletrack here too,” said Fritz Pienaar of Advendurance, organisers of the Nissan TrailSeeker Series. “We had a lot of riders here participating today and it’s encouraging how many youngster and women there were, which is the great thing about the Nissan TrailSeeker events, which are aimed at giving everyone a chance to enjoy a Saturday morning mountain bike race,” added Pienaar. Round 4 of the Nissan TrailSeeker Gauteng Series takes place on 1 October 2016 at Buffelsdrift, Pretoria North. To enter, or for more information, visit www.trailseekerseries.co.za 2016 Nissan TrailSeeker Series, Gauteng Round 3, Legend MX, Pretoria EAST, 27 August 2016 Leading resultsOverall men – 63km marathon: 1 Max Knox (New Holland Agriculture) 2hrs08min33sec 2 Nico Bell (Team NAD) 2:08:34 3 Arno du Toit (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing) 2:08:35 4 Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD) 2:08:36 5 Jan Withaar 2:08:36 6 Heine Engelbrecht 2:08:40 7 Guylin van den Berg 2:10:31 8 Wessel Redelinghuys 2:11:46 9 Alan Gordon 2:11:48 10 Grant Usher (Kargo Pro) 2:11:52 Overall women – 63km marathon: 1 Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) 2:22:55 2 Samantha Sanders (Valencia) 2:22:56 3 Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) 2:24:28 4 Amy-Beth McDougall (Valencia) 2:24:40 5 Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling) 2:24:41 6 Adrienne Moolman 2:31:15 7 Maricel Bekker 2:33:26 8 Kim le Court (Time Freight) 2:35:08 9 Mia van Rooyen 2:38:05 10 Nadine Visage 2:40:20 Overall male – 40km half-marathon 1 Wessel Botha 1:25:57 2 Henry Liebenberg 1:26:48 3 Jean-Pierre Lloyd 1:27:01 Overall female – 40km half-marathon 1 Bonny Swanepoel 1:46:37 2 Monique du Toit 1:48:36 3 Odette Guy 1:48:37 For full results and Nissan TrailSeeker Series standings, visit www.saseeding.co.za.
  24. South African marathon champions Max Knox and Robyn de Groot did their national titles justice at the weekend when they beat off strong challenges to win the men and women’s titles respectively at Round 3 of the Nissan TrailSeeker Gauteng Mountain Bike Series near Pretoria. Click here to view the article
  25. Knox (New Holland Agriculture), the current South African champion, was involved in almost a race-long battle with a field that stayed fairly tightly knit until almost three quarters of the way through the 103km race. Philip Buys (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing) was an early agitator, riding off the front to claim the King of the Mountain prize at 30km. But he was reeled back in and for most of the race a lead pack of around 15 riders broke up and reformed a few times on the rolling hills of the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. Philip Buys claiming KOM, with Max Knox and Gert Heyns hot on his heels. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Gert Heyns (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing) and Knox made a decisive move after a singletrack section before the second Tech Zone at 75km. The pair worked together and increased their lead over the pack, which was starting to lose cohesion as riders began to tire. With 10km remaining, Knox kept the pressure high and the pace proved too much for Heyns. Knox went on to claim the victory in a time of 3 hours 45 minutes 28 seconds. In the final run up to the finish, Heyns was caught by Nico Bell (Team NAD), who had chased back hard after suffering a mechanical. The pair sprinted for the second place with Heyns just pipping Bell in what required a photo to decide the positions. The pair clocked 3:46:48. Gert Heyns and Max Knox breaking away from the lead pack. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Lourens Luus (PSG Wealth) and Johann Rabie (Team Telkom) rounded out the top five places respectively. “It was a lot tougher than I anticipated. The depth of quality riders has increased and the terrain was quite smooth and the course quite flowing, which meant a high average speed. I knew that it would be difficult for anyone to ride away on their own, so when the opportunity came to get away with Gert, I was keen,” explained Knox. “Gert has been quite focussed on XCO racing so I hoped he might struggle a little at towards the end. Luckily for me he did begin to struggle and that’s when I was able to get away from him. I just kept as hard a pace as I could to the finish,” added Knox, who has now won three Ashburton Investments Nation MTB Series events in succession. Knox determinedly taking on the continual ascent. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za. “It was a very interesting race – very up and down. There was very positive racing all day, but I suffered a technical at a crucial time and after chasing back I realised that Max and Gert were up the road already. I went after them as hard as I could, but couldn’t shake Gert after catching up to him and didn’t see Max again," said Bell. “The shorter route really delivered more explosive racing. I really gave it my all trying to stay with Max but I blew and Nico, who always finishes strong, caught me and we had to sprint for second place," explained a weary Heyns. In the women’s race, Sanders took an early lead which she managed to increase throughout the 75km course to clock a winning time of 3:26:24. Jeannie Dreyer (Merchants) finished a distant second almost nine minutes later, with Therese Ralph (Galileo Risk) rounding out the top three in 3:38:21. Samantha Sanders content as she crosses the finish line comfortably ahead of the elite ladies. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “I was a bit concerned coming in to this race after a sick week. I went out hard very early so I could determine the pace. It was risky, but with the short, sharp climbs it suited me. I’m finally finding some marathon form after getting out of XC racing a bit,” said a satisfied Sanders. “It was a jolly tough course. It felt like one big climb out there today, but I love these hard, shortish 70km races and we had some really great weather,” smiled runner-up Dreyer. The Ashburton Investments National MTB Series now moves to South Africa’s Mpumalanga province for Round 6, on 3 and 4 September. For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com For full results of Round 5 at Ballito, visit: www.saseeding.org 2016 Ashburton Investments National Marathon Series Round 5, Ballito, Saturday 23 July Leading results Elite men – 95km Ultra-marathon: 1 Max Knox (New Holland Agriculture) 3:45:28 2 Gert Heyns (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing) 3:46:48 3 Nico Bell (Team NAD) 3:46:48 4 Lourens Luus (PSG Wealth) 3:47:20 5 Johann Rabie (Telkom) 3:48:00 6 Andrew Hill (TIB) 3:48:25 7 Willie Smit (Road Cover) 3:48:25 8 Waylon Woolcock (USN Purefit) 3:49:00 9 HB Kruger (Telkom) 3:49:46 10 Julian Jessop (Concept Cyclery) 3:57:47 Elite women – 75km marathon: 1 Samantha Sanders (Valencia) 3:26:24 2 Jeannie Dreyer (Merchants) 3:35:18 3 Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) 3:38:21 4 Frances du Toit (Kargo Pro) 3:43:10 5 Hayley Smith (Kargo Pro) 3:53:16 6 Genevieve van Coller 4:04:31 7 Brenda Potts 4:05:51 8 Annie David 4:21:13 9 Lize Swanepoel 4:26:00 10 Lize-Mari Ras 5:11:14
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