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  1. The breathtaking forest trails at the 2017 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Kaapsehoop. Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Matthys Beukes put the Pyga Euro Steel showdown to rest when we walked away with the Kaapsehoop title. He made an early attack in the race, and managed to get a slight lead on Buys from the 35km mark. He admitted that his victory did not come easy, however: "I had to push extremely hard in those final 2km, and just managed to come out on top!" Buys, who finished in a close second place, showed nothing but pride for his teammate: “All I can say is well done to Matthys! He had a rough season last year, and he made sure to make up for everything he missed out on."The first stage of the event had all eyes on Team Pyga Euro Steel's Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes who have entered into an epic battle for the series title. A lot is at stake for the mountain biking heroes, who took their place at the Kaapsehoop start line today with less than a 200 point difference on the series standings. It was Beukes who came out on top for the first stage of the event, with Buys taking second. Beukes did not fail to live up to his climbing abilities, and was a tough competitor to beat. He tackled the day's 1600m elevation gain with ease, and widened the gap on his teammate on the final climb to the finish line. Elite male riders HB Kruger, Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes. Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Reflecting on the season, he added, "So happy with the way it has all ended. This series is important to us - it has the most diversity, prize money and represents our sponsors really well. It's also the ideal opportunity for youngsters to start smashing us elite riders, It's been awesome to see guys like Wessel Botha come out here and actually challenge us,” he added. Team BCX's HB Kruger showed incredible form in the second stage of the event, and managed to narrow the gap on the leading riders to finish less than a minute behind Buys. Rising star Wessel Botha proved to South Africa's mountain biking giants that he is a force to be reckoned with, and finished the stage with a well-deserved fourth place. It was another successful day for Dormakaba's mountain biking star Candice Lill, who walked away with the Kaapsehoop event title and a second place in the popular series. Yolandi du Toit took second and Vanessa Bell charged across the finish line to snatch the final spot on the podium. Elite lady riders Vanessa Bell, Yolandi Du Toit and Candice Lill. Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Lill admitted that she was presented with more of a challenge from her female competitors than the first stage: “Yolandi went really hard at the start today, so I stayed with her for quite a while. I managed to get away on a single track that lead to a climb, and had a panic attack when I got a puncture. I sorted it out, luckily, and it felt incredible to keep my lead,” said Lill. Du Toit described the final stage to be extremely tough. "Today was more challenging for me than yesterday. Despite having better conditions, we climbed 1600m in 54km!” she said. Kaapsehoop was a race of unparalleled beauty that boasted exquisite singletrack trails through the De Kaap Valley. Sections of the race took riders through the Blue Swallow Reserve, a countryside that is characterised by rolling hills and Blue Swallows that the area is renowned for. With a clearer visibility in the final stage of the event, Beukes made sure to boast about the beauty of the trail: “We could actually see just how beautiful Kaapsehoop is today, and the trails here are just incredible. Even with all the pressure, I found myself often looking out and taking it all in,” he said. For more results visit https://www.saseeding.org/ Results Full Marathon - men1 Matthys Beukes (Team Pyga Euro Steel) 2:16:16 2 Philip Buys (Team Pyga Euro Steel) 2:17:15 3 HB Kruger (Team BCX) 2:17:35 4 Wessel Botha (Lynnwood Cyclery) 2:19:54 5 Declan Sidey (Specialized Bicycles) 2:20:06 Full Marathon - women 1 Candice Lill (Dormakaba) 2:44:45 2 Yolandi du Toit (Garmin) 2:50:01 3 Vanessa Bell (Bell's Cycling) 2:58:00 4 Dalene van der Leek 3:09:14 5 Melanie Roux 3:09:15 Overall Full marathon - Men 1 Matthys Beukes (Team Pyga Euro Steel) 4:57:29 2 Philip Buys (Team Pyga Euro Steel) 5:00:42 3 HB Kruger (Team BCX) 5:09:15 4 Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) 5:14:11 5 Shaun-Nick Bester 5:15:06 Full Marathon - Women 1 Candice Lill (Dormakaba) 5:57:46 2 Yolandi du Toit (Garmin) 6:13:55 3 Vanessa Bell (Bell's Cycling) 6:52:23 4 Dalene van der Leek 7:00:37 5 Melanie Roux 7:14:02
  2. Samantha Sanders (Valencia) sets a hard pace for the elite women during stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Dullstroom. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Despite the absence of the top two ranked riders in the prestigious series, Robyn de Groot and Amy Beth McDougall, who were both ill, it wasn’t plain sailing for Lill, who had to overcome a two-day duel with Samantha Sanders (Valencia) to secure the overall title. On Saturday’s 70.5km opening stage, Lill secured the victory with a strong performance, finishing 15th overall and three-and-a-half minutes ahead of runner-up Sanders. Yolandi du Toit (Garmin Merida) was third. On Sunday’s shorter, more technical 64.2km stage, Sanders showed her victory ambitions from the start, setting the early pace with only Lill able to stay with her. The pair eventually reached the final few hundred metres together with Sanders edging clear of Lill just before the line to secure the stage win and second overall. Du Toit was third again and confirmed her third place overall with Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) and Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk) claiming fourth and fifth overall respectively. Candice Lill (dormokaba) and Samantha Sanders (Valencia) battle it out on day 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Dullstroom. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “It was a good two days of racing. Today I suffered quite a lot. I think it might be the altitude and also probably the effort from yesterday. But yes, we had such a fun race out there. It was exciting the whole way and I love that,” said Lill. “I think the two-day format it good. The first day is longer and more of an endurance challenge and the second day is shorter, faster and more intense. It’s proper racing. I like this format. It’s great that the racing is exciting without Robyn, Amy and Vera. So it’s going to be even more exciting when they return,” added Lill. “Today was basically my stage to win or lose. I went out hard and Candice and I got away. She made me work, but I wanted to win the stage and I knew all she had to do was stay with me because we had a biggish time gap between us yesterday. So I’m happy with the way I rode today. I left it all out there,” said Sanders after Sunday’s stage. “Day 1 was a grind for me, so I didn’t really appreciate the scenery much. But today was great fun. The course suited me a lot better so I actually had a lot of fun out there. The guys at Advendurance have really put on another super event. It’s always a pleasure to participate in their events,” added Sanders. Women’s podium (from the left to right) Joseph Pieterse (Ashburton Investments representative) Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) Samantha Sanders (Valencia) Candice Lill (dormakaba) Yolandi du Toit (Garmin Merida) and Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk) Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za The seventh and final round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 14 and 15 October. The venue is Kaapsehoop, near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. For more information or to enter, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 6, Dullstroom Leading results Marathon Women Stage 1: 1 Candice Lill (RSA) Team dormakaba 3:17:01 2 Samantha Sanders (RSA) Valencia 3:20:35 3 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin Merida 3:22:40 4 Theresa Ralph (RSA) Galileo Risk 3:29:33 5 Vanessa Bell (RSA) Bells Cycling 3:31:00 6 Sarah Hill (RSA) Galileo Risk 3:32:57 7 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) 3:38:13 8 Kristen Louw (RSA) 3:51:45 9 Heila Meintjes (RSA) 3:59:23 10 Melanie Roux (RSA) 4:02:37Women Stage 2: 1 Samantha Sanders (RSA) Valencia 2:15:08 2 Candice Lill (RSA) Team dormakaba 2:15:09 3 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin Merida 2:23:30 4 Theresa Ralph (RSA) Galileo Risk 2:25:49 5 Sarah Hill (RSA) Galileo Risk 2:26:01 6 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) 2:29:08 7 Kristen Louw (RSA) 2:42:04 8 Hanli Cilliers (RSA) 2:47:30 9 Melanie Roux (RSA) 2:49:25 10 Heila Meintjes (RSA) 2:51:26 Women combined final positions: 1 Candice Lill (RSA) Team dormakaba 5:32:10 2 Samantha Sanders (RSA) Valencia 5:35:43 3 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin Merida 5:46:10 4 Theresa Ralph (RSA) Galileo Risk 5:55:22 5 Sarah Hill (RSA) Galileo Risk 5:58:58 6 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) 6:07:21 7 Kristen Louw (RSA) 6:33:49 8 Heila Meintjes (RSA) 6:50:49 9 Melanie Roux (RSA) 6:52:02 10 Hanli Cilliers (RSA) 6:54:00 Half-marathon Females combined – final positions 1 Danielle Strydom (RSA) 4:11:17 2 Frances Janse van Rensburg (RSA) 4:14:40 3 Thana Groenewald (RSA) 4:20:24 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  3. Pyga/Eurosteel team, Matthys Beukes (front) and Philip Buys (back) setting a hard pace on day 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Dullstroom. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za After finishing third on Stage 1 on Saturday, Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) started Sunday’s leg 22 seconds back and in aggressive mood, setting the pace from the start with his Pyga Eurosteel teammate, Matthys Beukes and putting Heyns under constant pressure. But Buys and Beukes were simply too strong and they completed the perfect double with Beukes claiming the stage win and Buys grabbing second place and the overall title. It was the appropriate reprieve for Beukes who suffered a broken wheel while battling upfront during Stage 1 and was forced to withdraw from the stage. On Saturday, Heyns outsmarted his rivals to grab the stage win in the 70.5km leg and secure the overnight lead. He was followed by Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) and Buys respectively. But the Pyga Eurosteel pair was just too strong on Sunday’s 62.4km route, claiming the top two spots. Bell finished third on Sunday to secure second overall for the two-day event, with Heyns in fourth and Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) rounding out the top five respectively on the second day. In the overall though, Heyns finished third, Combrinck fourth and Dylan Rebello (Imbuko Momsen) fifth. Dylan Rebello, stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Dullstroom. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “It was quite a good day for us obviously. I almost feel bad. Yesterday I only did half the race, so I was a lot fresher than the other guys. You could clearly see that today. Those are the rules and we can play that,” explained Beukes The Ashburton Investments National MTB Series rules for its two-day event permit a rider to compete on Day 2 even if they don’t finish Day 1. Series points are allocated for each day’s performance as well as for the combined result for the two-days. “My first objective was to look after Phil today and make sure he closed the gap on second and first overall after Day 1. My second objective was for me to take the stage win, which I did, which is quite nice and it will help add to my overall series points,” added Beukes. Gawie Combrick (Team NAD Pro) crosses a stream during stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Dullstroom. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “The scenery around Dullstroom is really nice. It feels like you are riding on top of the world. Thanks to Advendurance for more amazing routes. We rode some awesome trails out there,” said Beukes. “Yesterday our tactic didn’t really work out as planned, but today it worked out perfectly. Glad to take the overall win and a great stage win for Matthys,” said Buys. “Advendurance put on another good event. It’s tough racing at altitude. The climbing is good here and add in the wind and you have a proper challenge when racing here,” added Buys. Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) followed closely by Gawie Combrick (Team NAD Pro) during stage 1 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Dullstroom. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “The racing was great. I’ve never really had a good result at Dullstroom, so it was good to finish second overall. The Pyga guys made the pace really hard. Matthys was quite fresh after not being able to finish yesterday’s stage. With this wind, it made the race even harder, so it was definitely a difficult race,” said Bell. “Gawie is getting back to full strength. He helped me quite a lot at the beginning of today’s stage. It’s great to have us both finish in the top five. Very good for our sponsors and our team,” added Bell. The seventh and final round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 14 and 15 October. The venue is Kaapsehoop, near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. For more information or to enter, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Men’s podium (from left to right) Joseph Pieterse (Ashburton Investments representative) Gawie Combrick, Nico Bell, Philip Buys, Gert Heyns and Dylan Rebello. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 6, Dullstroom Leading results Marathon Men Stage 1: 1 Gert Heyns (RSA) Ascendis Health 2:51:32 2 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:51:49 3 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:51:54 4 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:54:03 5 Timothy Hammond (RSA) Spot Africa 2:56:01 6 Dylan Rebello (RSA) Imbuko Momsen 2:56:04 7 Wessel Botha (RSA) 3:58:01 8 Alan Gordon (RSA) 3:06:02 9 Pieter-Ben Korkie (RSA) 3:10:09 10 Pillimon Sebona (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 3:10:54Men Stage 2: 1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 1:55:48 2 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 1:55:53 3 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 1:56:49 4 Gert Heyns (RSA) Ascendis Health 1:58:27 5 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:00:16 6 Wessel Botha (RSA) 2:00:34 7 Dylan Rebello (RSA) Imbuko Momsen 2:00:45 8 Timothy Hammond (RSA) Spot Africa 2:01:12 9 Ben Melt Swanepoel (RSA) Garmin Merida 2:02:20 10 Marc Fourie (RSA) 2:06:47 Men combined final positions: 1 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 4:47:47 2 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 4:48:38 3 Gert Heyns (RSA) Ascendis Health 4:49:59 4 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD Pro 4:54:19 5 Dylan Rebello (RSA) Imbuko Momsen 4:56:49 6 Timothy Hammond (RSA) Spot Africa 4:57:13 7 Wessel Botha (RSA) 4:58:35 8 Alan Gordon (RSA) 5:13:42 9 Pillimon Sebona (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 5:18:36 10 Pieter-Ben Korkie (RSA) 5:19:09 Half-marathon Males combined – final positions 1 Marc Oliver Pritzen (RSA) 3:27:21 2 Chris du Plessis (RSA) 3:29:47 3 Keagan Bontekoning 3:32:31 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  4. Many of South Africa’s top mountain bike stars are set for a two-day battle in the eastern highlands when they contest Round 6 of the 2017 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Dullstroom, Mpumalanga this weekend. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za The event will offer two days of high-quality, high-altitude racing in some of the most scenic surrounds and a large field is expected due to the close proximity (3-hour drive) of Dullstroom to Johannesburg and Pretoria. The start and finish venue for each stage is at Dunkeld Country Estate, which is located at 2 067 metres above sea level, making the event slightly more challenging, especially for riders that live at the coast. Series leader, Philip Buys and his Pyga EuroSteel teammate, Matthys Beukes, currently a close second in the total points, will both be on the start line. “I’m not too worried about the altitude. I don’t struggle much with it as I live in Pretoria, which is 1400 metres above sea level. But for Matthys, coming from sea level, it’s a challenge. He has found that it works better for him to arrive as late as possible to altitude races, so he will only fly up on Friday,” explained Buys. “We are both in pretty good shape as we’ve had a few solid weeks of training with no travel and racing. I’m looking forward to two days of high-intensity racing,” added Buys. Top contenders for the men’s podium will include Gawie Combrinck & Nico Bell riding for Team NAD Pro as well as Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes from team Pyga Eurosteel. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za National marathon champion, Nico Bell and his Team NAD Pro teammate, Gawie Combrinck, will both make the short trip up from Nelspruit for this weekend’s showdown. They are third and fourth respectively in the Ashburton Investments MTB Series standings after five rounds. “It’s difficult to say how the legs will be on race day, but Gawie will be looking for a good result following his second-place finishes at Dullstroom for the past two years. The altitude is always a factor. You can’t go too deep into the red otherwise you don’t recover, but the racing will be hard for sure so we hope to be part of it again,” said Bell. Max Knox, the 2016 Ashburton Investments MTB Series winner, who is unbeaten in Dullstroom and currently fifth in the 2017 Series, will be watching from the sidelines as he recovers from surgery to repair a broken collarbone. “It’s obviously very disappointing for me not to be able to race at one of my favourite venues, but I will still be there cheering everyone on. It’s an amazing venue with a wonderful atmosphere and well worth the trip for the weekend for riders and their families,” said Knox. Other potential podium contenders confirmed to start are Wessel Botha, currently sixth in the 2017 Series, and Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health), who will fly up from Cape Town and who says he has no real problem with marathon racing at altitude. “There's usually not much I can do about higher altitude races as there is usually not enough time to go up and adapt beforehand. Although it's a disadvantage, I generally don't do anything different than for any other race. I usually struggle with XCO at altitude but it tends to not bother me too much in marathon racing, so hopefully I’ll be sharp from Dullstroom this weekend,” said Cape Town-based Heyns. South African champion and current 2017 Series leader, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) will be conspicuously absent from the women’s race. She is not fully recovered from a bout of bronchitis. However, her decision not to compete should open up contention for the 2017 Series title up somewhat. In contention for the women’s podium, this weekend will be Candice Lill (dormakaba) and Samantha Sanders (Valencia). Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Confirmed to start are Round 5 winner, Candice Lill (dormakaba) and Round 4 winner, Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia), Sarah Hill (Liv), who is currently second in the Series, Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk), Samantha Sanders (Valencia) and Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling). Because there are two legs this weekend, the opportunities to score points are higher, so expect some interesting position shifts. “Racing at altitude is always a challenge for us coming from the coast. I definitely feel there is less oxygen but I try not let it get to me mentally. I know most of my competitors are feeling the same way,” said Lill. “I’m recovering from flu, so hope to be strong by Dullstroom. Regarding altitude, I’m lucky because at live at 1600m in Joburg. But you can’t really prepare for altitude racing. You have to mentally accept that you are going to feel like you’re breathing through a straw and going slowly. I just returned from Colombia where the base altitude for the stage race I did was 2000m and we frequently climbed to 3000m and even to 4000m, which was ridiculous! So, based on that Dullstroom’s altitude isn’t too bad,” said McDougall. “I went to Dullstroom to train last weekend, which I hope helps a bit. I’m sure the full-time pro’s will go there a few days before to adjust, especially those living at sea level. I don’t have the luxury of acclimatising, but living in Joburg should help a bit,” said Ralph. “I live in Joburg, so the altitude does not affect me as much. I sometimes train at Suikerbosrand, as the altitude varies there and can go up to around 1900m metres, so that helps a bit,” said Bell. There are a range of event options on offer this weekend, but the main focus is on the two-day marathon stage race and the two-day half-marathon stage race. Programme: Venue: Dunkeld Country Estate, Dullstroom Friday 1 September 15h00-18h00: Registration at Dullstroom Reservations Saturday 2 September 06h30-10h00: Registration and late entries at race venue 07h30: Marathon (Stage 1) & Single Day 09h00: Half-marathon (Stage 1) & Single Day 10h00: Fun Race 11h00: Preliminary results Day 1 posted 12h00: Prize Giving Sunday 11 June 06h30-10h00: Registration and late entries at race venue 07h30: Marathon (Stage 2) 09h00: Half-marathon (Stage 2) 10h00: Fun Ride 11h00: Preliminary results Day 2 posted 13h00: Prize giving (Day 2 and Overall)Entries are still open and can be done online at www.nationalmtbseries.com.
  5. Candice Lill (dormakaba) and Samantha Sanders (Valencia) Catching their breath after thrilling duel to the finish line at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Lill (dormakaba) clocked a time of 3 hours 29 minutes 14 seconds when she outsprinted Samantha Sanders (Valencia) in the 70km race, which offered a test of complete mountain biking ability, including steep climbs and descents, long climbs and descents, technical sections and twisty singletrack. It is the second year in succession that Lill has won the Van Gaalen round of the prestigious series, confirming how suited the course is to her strengths. Lill comes from a XCO background and is the only South African female to have won a UCI Mountain Bike World Championships medal (Junior category bronze in 2009). Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) crossing water bridge at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za An off-form South African marathon champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health), winner at Van Gaalen in 2015, finished third after being unable to stay in the title fight for the final 10km, leaving Sanders and Lill to a thrilling duel in the finale. Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) and Sarah Hill (LIV) completed the top-five respectively. “Before the race I checked out the finish. I knew the first person into the last corner should win. So, happy it worked out,” beamed Lill. “The ladies raced so well today. It was a hot pace from the beginning. The climbing today was tricky climbing, so it was important to be in the front. If somebody puts a foot down then you have to get off and walk. So I positioned myself well and was strong on the climbs,” explained Lill. “Robyn and Sam just kept coming back to me on some of the flat sections. At the end there was a long section of singletrack and myself and Sam managed to get away and we basically had a battle right to the line,” added Lill. “I’m so stoked. This race suits me well. I enjoy the really technical riding. I was hoping I could pull off a win. The course was very rocky and dry and the descents are tricky. You really have to keep your wits about you here, especially at the end when you’re getting fatigued. But it’s proper mountain biking. The work done of the trails is impressive. I actually had such fun,” said Lill. “I’m disappointed I didn’t win that sprint. But shew! It’s such an awesome race route. The terrain is so diverse here, so much singletrack. We had a good old tussle. Robyn, Candice and I were together at the front up until the last climb,” said Sanders. “On that last climb I put in an effort to try and get away and took a few risks on the descent. Candice and I got a gap on Robyn and stayed away until the finish. I guess I’ll just have to be happy with second. It was very rocky and dry and being smooth and staying upright was most important,” added Sanders. Aerial view of elite women, lead by Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) Candice Lill (dormakaba) Samantha Sanders (Valencia) and Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “Van Gaalen is always a good event. The racing was tough; I suffered. Van Gaalen is known for its rugged trails. It’s really rocky, loose, sharp rocks. You work really, really hard. It’s a route where you can’t hide. I knew coming into the race that I wasn’t in peak form, so it was just damage control and holding onto the series lead,” said De Groot, who scored enough points to maintain her overall Series lead. Round 6 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 2-3 September at Dullstroom in Mpumalanga. The early spring two-day event is expected to attract a large field. For more information, or to enter, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 5, Van Gaalen Marathon Women:1 Candice Lill (dormakaba) 3:29:14 2 Samantha Sanders (Valencia) 3:29:15 3 Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) 3:30:31 4 Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) 3:42:41 5 Sarah Hill (LIV) 3:45:34 6 Adrienne Moolman 3:53:40 7 Andrea de Boer 3:56:24 8 Sanet Coetzee 3:59:33 9 Chantal du Chenne 4:05:05 10 Melanie Roux 4:05:46 Half-marathon Women: 1 Danielle Strydom 2:00:04 2 Thana Groenewald 2:03:27 3 Frances Janse van Rensburg 2:08:50 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  6. Beukes dug deep to overcome an impressive race-long challenge from Brendon Davids (Road Cover), eventually clocking a winning time of 2 hours 55 minutes 34 seconds, which was just one second ahead of the fast-finishing Davids. Brendon Davids (Road Cover) and Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) Crossing the water bridge the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Philip Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) was at the front of the race with Beukes and Davids until a mechanical delayed his progress. He eventually finished fourth, behind Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) who grabbed the final podium spot. Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro), the Series leader going into the event, finished fifth. “I think this course is bit too flat for me and Brendon is really strong on the flats. He had me in the hurt box a lot. Me, Brendon and Phil got away early but unfortunately Phil punctured and I just had to stick to Brendon’s wheel. On the flats I was bleeding to keep up,” explained a weary Beukes. “And on the last climb I thought it’s game over for me. I thought I’ll just put one last final effort in. I saw then that he was on the limit as well, which motivated me so I pinned it to the end. I got a bit tired towards the finish. I ran out of energy and Brendon almost caught me on the line,” added Beukes. In terms of taking the Series lead, Beukes remained realistic in his approach. “Obviously it’s good to take the lead in the Series. Confidence wise it’s a nice boost. I haven’t been looking at the overall Series, but rather just taking each event individually and try and do my best at each one. Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) crosses finish line a second ahead of Brendon Davids (Road Cover) after a tight final sprint at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “Van Gaalen gave us a true mountain biker’s race and Brendon showed that he’s not lost his touch on the technical stuff. You have to be smooth on this kind of terrain in order to be fast and it was a really enjoyable route,” added Beukes. “It was a hard day out. Quite fast. The Pyga guys were attacking me left right and centre from the start. It really made for some hard racing. I lost Matthys’s wheel with about five kilometres to go. But I managed to collect myself again and started my charge towards the finish. Unfortunately, we had some run-ins with some backmarkers near the end. But ultimately the strongest guy won. Hats off to Matthys,” said Davids, who is focussing predominantly on road racing in 2017. “I was really impressed with the route. It’s my first time racing at Van Gaalen and it’s definitely one of my favourite routes. Brendon and Matthys were really strong. From 20 kays in they got a gap on me and I could never really close. It was good to finish on the podium,” said Heyns. Elite men’s podium -from left to right- Gert Hyns (Ascendis Health) Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) Brendon Davids (Road Cover). Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Round 6 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 2-3 September at Dullstroom in Mpumalanga. The early spring two-day event is expected to attract a large field. For more information, or to enter, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 5, Van GaalenMarathon Men: 1 Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) 2:55:34 2 Brendon Davids (Road Cover) 2:55:35 3 Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) 2:59:00 4 Philip Buys (Pyga/Eurosteel) 3:00:38 5 Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) 3:02:00 6 Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) 3:04:47 7 Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) 3:05:31 8 Wessel Botha 3:12:35 9 Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling) 3:13:41 10 Ben Melt Swanepoel (Garmin Merida) 3:15:45 Half-marathon Males 1 Marc Oliver Pritzen 1:40:03 2 Keagan Bontekoning 1:42:29 3 Chris du Plessis 1:43:22 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  7. Beukes (Pyga Eurosteel) eventually triumphed in a race-long duel with Round 4 winner, Brendon Davids (Road Cover) to claim the win in a time of 02:55:34. Davids was just 0.1 seconds behind with Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) rounding out the podium places. Elite Men. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “Brendon is so strong on the flats and there’s quite a lot of flat sections here. I was bleeding to keep on his wheel. On the last climb I thought it was game over for me, so I just put in one last attack and it worked out. I got a gap and just tried to hold my small lead to the end, which I only just managed to do,” said a weary Beukes, who now takes the Series lead going into Round 6. In the women’s race a tight tussle saw Neethling (dormakaba) and Samantha Sanders (Valencia) duke it out in a sprint, with Neethling just edging ahead to take the win in a time of 03:29:14. Sanders was given the same time with South African champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) taking third place in 03:30:31. De Groot still holds onto the Series lead. Elite Women. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “I checked out the finish before the start and knew the first person into the last corner should win. So my positioning at the end was perfect for that sprint. It was a hot pace from the beginning in the women’s race today and I’m very happy to have won. It’s a really challenging route, which I love,” smiled Neethling. Round 6 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series takes place at Dullstroom, Mpumalanga on 2 and 3 September 2017. To enter, or for more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Leading Results Marathon Men1 Matthys Beukes 02:55:34 2 Brendon Davids 02:55:35 3 Gert Heyns 02:59:00 4 Philip Buys 03:00:38 5 Nico Bell 03:02:00 Women 1 Candice Neethling 03:29:14 2 Samantha Sanders 03:29:15 3 Robyn De Groot 03:30:31 4 Theresa Ralph 03:42:41 5 Sarah Hill 03:45:34 Half Marathon Men 1 Marc Oliver Pritzen 01:40:03 2 Keagan Bontekoning 01:42:29 3 Chris Du Plessis Du Plessis 01:43:22 Women 1 Danielle Strydom 02:00:04 2 Thana Groenewald 02:03:27 3 Frances Janse van Rensburg 02:08:50
  8. Less than an hour’s drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria, Van Gaalen offers a traditionally tough allround challenge, with the steep gradients, rugged terrain and stimulating singletrack making for a comprehensive test of rider strength and skill. Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro), making every race count, will be out to maintain he’s series lead this weekend at Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Unlike recent years, when the Elite men have tackled an ultra-marathon, this year they will, join the Elite women in a marathon distance battle over 68km, which should make for an intense, exciting battle as a number of riders vie for the points that could swing the 2017 national marathon series title in their favour. South African marathon champion, Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) currently leads the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series men’s rankings with 25 198 points from seven stages. Bell’s Team NAD Pro teammate, Gawie Combrinck is currently second with 23 004 points, also from seven stages and 2016 champion, Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out) is third on 22 552 from six stages. The Pyga Eurosteel pairing of Philip Buys (22 443 points) and Matthys Beukes (21 728 points) are close behind in fourth and fifth respectively. Buys has completed six stages and Beukes seven. The way the scoring works in 2017, the points from each rider’s best seven results of the 12 stages will count. “Yes, the series is wide spread across the year and it is often difficult to be at your best at each event, so to be the leader you have to finish every event you start and then after the 12 you hope you have enough good results to make seven of them count! We will be looking to race hard over the next few rounds and hopefully we have form on the day!” said Bell. Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) who won the National Marathon Title at Van Gaalen in 2015 is sure to be a race favourite this weekend. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Joining Bell on the start line at Van Gaalen is his teammate, Combrinck. Van Gaalen is the venue where Combrinck won the South African marathon title in 2015 and he’ll be hoping for similar success on Saturday. Also confirmed in the men’s race are Knox, Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) and Arno du Toit (LCB Racing), as well as Buys and Beukes. “I haven't checked the overall Ashburton Investments National MTB Series standings, but we are more focussed on winning the races than winning the Series. But it will be a bonus if we can get the Series lead or overall win,” said Buys, fresh from his victory at last weekend’s Nissan Trailseeker Series Lionman event. In the women’s division South African marathon champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) holds the current series lead with a score of 23 434 points from six stages. Sarah Hill is in second place with 18745 points from six stages and Amy Beth McDougall third on 18 739 points from five stages. Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) current series leader, will be a race favourite for the women’s race this weekend at Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za McDougall, winner of the last two stages, will be absent on Saturday as she’s racing abroad. But there’s certain to be a tight tussle for the women’s title with De Groot the firm favourite. She’ll be wary of Samantha Sanders (Valencia) and Candice Lill (dormbakaba), both currently in good form, as well as Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) and Sarah Hill (Liv). “I really enjoy Van Gaalen. It’s proper mountain biking with some tricky descents and technical climbs. I enjoy the rocky trails and I feel the course suits me quite well. That being said, it’s difficult to just ride away because there is a section of open dirt road towards the end. My form is quite good so let’s see how it goes,” said Lill, winner at Van Gaalen last year. Aerial shot of Candice Lill (dormakaba) leading Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) at last year’s Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “I haven’t raced many rounds of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series this year – only two I think – so not sitting too high up in the overall points standings. I love Van Gaalen though. I love the trails and the area, but I’m yet to have a good race there. Hopefully that will change this weekend,” said Sanders. There is 1103 metres of accumulated ascent in the marathon, which includes six notable climbs. The 43km half-marathon only has 242m of ascent and is expected to be fast. There is also a 20km Fun Race and a 10km Fun Ride. Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Leading positions after four rounds (seven stages): Marathon Men: 1 Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) 25 198 points 2 Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) 23 004 3 Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out) 22 552 4 Philip Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) 22 443 5 Matthys Beukes (Pyga Eurosteel) 21 728 6 Dylan Rebello (Imbuko Momsen) 20 894 7 Wessel Botha 18 815 8 Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling) 18 673 9 Alan Gordon 18 136 10 David Low 18 128Women: 1 Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) 23 434 2 Sarah Hill (Liv) 18 745 3 Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) 18 739 4 Janice Venter 16 529 5 Julia Kotze 15 965 6 Haley Smith (Bell Racing) 14 177 7 Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling) 12 389 8 Candice Neethling (dormakaba) 11 077 9 Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 10 420 10 Kristen Louw 9 942 Half-marathon Male 1 Marc Oliver Pritzen 21 836 2 Wicus Breytenbach 20 671 3 Hennie van Wyk 20 471 Female 1 Rimari Sutton 24 129 2 Anjenel van der Walt 23 439 3 Tanya Kotze 22 684 Entries are still open and can be done online at www.nationalmtbseries.com.
  9. Champagne Sports Resort, in Central Drakensberg, played host to the 4th round of the Ashburton National MTB Series. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za The 27-year-old Valencia rider scored a convincing victory in the two-stage race. The result was a significant breakthrough for McDougall, who has finished on the podium a number of times previously, but never on the top step. On Stage 1, a 67km leg with 1700 metres of climbing, McDougall took the early lead and then extended it to win the women’s division and place 13th overall. McDougall’s time of 3:18:00 was just over nine minutes faster than runner-up, South African champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health). Sarah Hill (Liv) was third a further 20 minutes back. An elated Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) raises her arm in victory as she claims her first ever Ashburton Investments National MTB Series victory. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za An off-form De Groot, still recovering from recent illness decided to withdraw from Sunday’s second stage, leaving McDougall to defend a large lead over Hill on the 50km stage with 1330m of elevation. McDougall charged around the challenging course in a time of 2:15:50 to finish a respectable 18th overall on the stage. Hill secured second place in 2:29:19 with Hayley Smith (Bell) completing the podium in 2:33:05. In the combined times, McDougall, who placed 15th overall, was 45 minutes faster than Hill, with Smith claiming third. “Unfortunately, I haven’t been 100% well since Sani2c last month. I was due to fly to Germany on Sunday night for the upcoming marathon world champs later this month and decided I needed to address my health situation rather than compete in Stage 2. It was a tough call, but the right one I feel. Amy rode very well and deserved the win,” said De Groot from Germany on Monday. Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) climbing QOM during stage 1 of the 4th round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Champagne Valley. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “I always go out as hard as I can. I like to push my limits whether I’m under pressure or not and that’s what I did today. I really enjoyed it out there and made the most of this incredible part of the world,” said McDougall after Stage 2. “I’m super stoked! It’s been a goal of mine for five years now to win a national marathon series race. And finally, I have. Unfortunately Robyn wasn’t here today as she’s not feeling well. From that point of view, I would have liked the battle, but I’m still super stoked,” beamed McDougall. Sarah Hill (Liv) climbing QOM during stage 1 of the 4th round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Champagne Valley. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “This the best I’ve done all year. It’s such a cool feeling to improve my positions each year. I loved the downhills here, but this was the hardest race of the year so far for me,” said Hill. Round 5 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 29 July at Van Gaalen in the North West Province. The venue is less than an hour’s drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria and is expected to draw a large field. Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 4, Champagne Sports Resort Marathon Women Stage 1: 1 Amy Beth McDougall (RSA) Valencia 3:18:00 2 Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 3:27:47 3 Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv 3:48:18 4 Nadia Visser (RSA) 3:52:15 5 Hayley Smith (RSA) Bell 3:52:50 6 Adrienne Moolman (RSA) 4:03:22 7 Andrea de Boer (RSA) 4:03:25 8 Julia Kotze (RSA) 4:16:06 9 Janice Venter (RSA) 4:19:25 10 Sandra Haywood (RSA) 4:28:07Women Stage 2: 1 Amy Beth McDougall (RSA) Valencia 2:15:50 2 Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv 2:29:19 3 Hayley Smith (RSA) Bell 2:33:05 4 Nadia Visser (RSA) 2:40:06 5 Adrienne Moolman (RSA) 2:46:43 6 Sandra Haywood (RSA) 2:47:05 7 Andrea de Boer (RSA) 2:49:20 8 Julia Kotze (RSA) 2:50:54 9 Janice Venter (RSA) 2:53:04 10 Su Don-Wauchope (RSA) 2:59:20 Women combined final positions: 1 Amy Beth McDougall (RSA) Valencia 5:33:50 2 Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv 6:17:37 3 Hayley Smith (RSA) Bell 6:25:55 4 Nadia Visser (RSA) 6:32:21 5 Adrienne Moolman (RSA) 6:50:05 6 Andrea de Boer (RSA) 6:52:45 7 Julia Kotze (RSA) 7:07:00 8 Janice Venter (RSA) 7:12:29 9 Sandra Haywood (RSA) 7:15:12 10 Su Don-Wauchope (RSA) 7:38:11 Half-marathon Females combined – final positions 1 Danielle Strydom (RSA) 3:40:38 2 Frances Janse van Rensburg (RSA) 3:53:16 3 Tanya Kotze (RSA) 3:58:33 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  10. Brendon Davids (Road Cover) taking the lead during the second stage, in the last major climb at the 4th round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Champagne Valley. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Although racing mainly in road events for Team Road Cover this year, Davids is a former African Under-23 mountain bike champion in the XCO discipline and he confirmed at the weekend that he’s still a force to be reckoned with on the dirt, winning both stages in dominant fashion in the Men’s marathon event to secure the overall title. Second place went to Philip Buys of Team Pyga Eurosteel who was second on both stages, with Matthys Beukes, also of Pyga Eurosteel, third on both stages and third overall. The racing took place on some brand-new trails, built with the support of Advendurance, the event organisers, and which will remain in the area as part of the company’s trail legacy project. There was widespread praise from participants about the new venue and the trails. Philip Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) on the last climb of stage 2 of the 4th round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Champagne Valley. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “I was blown away by the potential at this venue when we first came to have a look. The first year at a new venue is always difficult, but we got a really good route together, which does need some manicuring. This year we built six bridges and eight kilometres of singletrack and will make improvements and additions each time we visit here in the future. As a venue, Champagne Valley is just awesome,” said Francois Theron of Advendurance. “I like to call the routes here raw mountain biking. Cattle tracks, some jeep tracks and purpose-build singletrack. Some harsh climbing, including sharp, steep ascents and fast, challenging downhills. This is definitely one of the events that’s more suited to technically strong riders,” added Theron. Stage 1 was a 67km leg with 1700 metres of ascent. Beukes and series leader, Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out) set a rapid pace from the start, splitting the lead pack up on the first climb. Davids rode across the small gap to them and grabbed the King of the Mountain prize within the first 10km, while Knox didn’t even make it to the KOM, forced to withdraw with a snapped chain. Matthys Beukes (Pyga Eurosteel) on a flat forested jeep track during stage 1 of the 4th round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Champagne Valley. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za The riders behind assumed chase mode with Buys the only man able to put any meaningful pressure on Davids. The pair rode close together until a large climb after halfway, where Davids moved clear of Buys to create a more significant lead, which he extended to over three minutes at the finish. Stage 2 was a distance of 50km with 1330m of elevation. Buys and Beukes set a snappy pace from the gun in an effort to regain some time on overnight leader, Davids. Buys managed to build up an early solo lead, but Davids remained calm and rode a steady pace that eventually saw him reel Buys in and then drop him on the final major climb. He went on to secure his second successive stage win and the overall title. “Phil and Matthys made my life hard probably from the first corner of the race today. They were attacking and I was holding a steady, consistent pace. I watched my numbers the whole time. When the long climbs came, I reeled Phil back in. “I’d have been happy to give Phil the stage win if we were together at the end because the overall title was more important for me. But on the last major climb I had a gap on him, so I just kept the pressure on just in case anything happened. I’m just very happy to get my first national marathon series win,” smiled Davids. Matt Beers (Red-E/Cannondale) reaching KOM during stage 1 of the 4th round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Champagne Valley. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “The plan on Day 2 was for Matthys and I to go out hard and put Brendon under pressure. Well done to him. He responded and covered everything. We enjoyed the racing. The trails are awesome here, nice and technical. The climbs suited us but I think we just lost too much time on Day 1,” said Buys. “We enjoy the two-day format. It helps us prepare for the other stage races like the Cape Epic where the intensity is much higher than before,” added Buys. “It’s been fast and furious. No-one knew the routes here which made it even for everyone. It’s definitely one of my favourite routes to race now,” said Beukes. Round 5 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 29 July at Van Gaalen in the North West Province. The venue is less than an hour’s drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria and is expected to draw a large field. Brendon Davids (Road Cover) arm raised in victory as he claims the stage 2 win of the 4th round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Champagne Valley. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 4, Champagne Sports Resort Marathon Men Stage 1: 1 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 2:46:25 2 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:49:42 3 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:52:23 4 Matt Beers (RSA) Red-E/Cannondale 2:56:29 5 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:58:45 6 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:59:55 7 Wessel Botha (RSA) 3:01:27 8 Declan Sidey (RSA) 3:03:48 9 David Low (RSA) 3:08:15 10 Alan Gordon (RSA) 3:10:11Men Stage 2: 1 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 1:53:14 2 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 1:54:35 3 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 1:55:50 4 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 1:56:13 5 Matt Beers (RSA) Red-E/Cannondale 1:58:47 6 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 1:58:48 7 Wessel Botha (RSA) 2:02:43 8 Alan Gordon (RSA) 2:02:49 9 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:02:53 10 David Low (RSA) 2:06:08 Men combined final positions: 1 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 4:39:39 2 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 4:44:17 3 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 4:48:13 4 Matt Beers (RSA) Red-E/Cannondale 4:55:16 5 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 4:57:33 6 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD Pro 5:02:48 7 Wessel Botha (RSA) 5:04:10 8 Declan Sidey (RSA) 5:11:44 9 Alan Gordon (RSA) 5:13:00 10 David Low (RSA) 5:14:23 Half-marathon Males combined – final positions 1 Pieter du Toit (RSA) 2:56:50 2 Brendan van Eeden (RSA) 3:03:08 3 Marc Oliver Pritzen (RSA) 3:03:33 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  11. The event will once again follow the new two-day racing format. For the marathon, that means that Day 1 will be a 70km race with 1585 metres of ascent and Day 2 will be a 51km leg with 1102 metres of climbing. For the half-marathon, there’s a 44km Day 1 route with 978 metres of vertical gain and Day 2 is 36km with 682 metres of climbing. Max Knox, at the National MTB Series sound 2 in Sabie, is sure to use the climbing and elevation to his advantage this weekend at the 4th round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Champagne Valley. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Men’s Marathon Series leader Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out) will be on the start line, as will newly crowned South African champion, Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro), who is currently lying second in the prestigious series. Also confirmed are Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) and the Pyga Eurosteel pair of Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes and Ascendis Health’s Gert Heyns. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the people from Advendurance have in store for us at this new venue,” said Knox, who comes fresh off securing two dominant wins at the Sappi Karkloof Classic and the Vodacom Hippo Hollow Challenge. “The new two-day format of the series has made the racing closer, which is good for the sport. I’m quite happy with the shorter distances, but personally like there to be some tough climbs and a generous helping of singletrack so that the stages are still challenging,” added Knox, who is the defending series men’s champion. “This will be the first race of our second block of racing this year. We had some time off after SA Marathon Champs followed with a solid two weeks of training in the George area with Matthys. The legs feel fresh and the shape is good,” said Buys, who, along with Beukes, won the Old Mutual joBerg2c and KAP Sani2c since their one-two success at Round 3 in Clarens in early April. In the women’s event, current series leader Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) will be out to extend her lead. She’s been recovering from recent illness, but is looking for a strong performance this weekend as it forms part of her build-up for the Marathon World Championships in Germany later this month. Current series leader Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) will be out to extend her lead this weekend at the 4th round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Champagne Valley. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “I’m really looking forward to the routes at this venue. I’ve only ever been to Champagne Valley for holidays as a kid. But I can imagine the mountain biking must be bliss there. Advendurance always stages good events and I try to compete in as many of them as I can. At the Ashburton Investments Series, the racing is tough and the routes are always challenging, as they should be in XCM mountain biking,” said De Groot. Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia), currently second in the women’s series rankings, will also be at Round 4 this weekend. “I feel like I have good form going into the race. I’m very excited about the new venue. Having ridden there before I know we are in for a treat!” said McDougall. In addition to the marathon and half-marathon two-day events, there will also be a single-day marathon and half-marathon on Saturday (no points or prizemoney). And a 20km Fun Race on Saturday followed by a 10km Fun Ride on Sunday. “There’s an event for everyone. And for most, it’s possible to participate on both days, which makes for a very rewarding weekend away. Champagne Valley is just a two-hour drive from Durban and a four-hour drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria so we are expecting quite a decent sized field,” said Wessel van der Walt of Advendurance. Philip Buys and teammate Matthys Beukes (Pyga Eurosteel) will also be thrown into this weekend's mix at the 4th round of the Ashburton National MTB Series in Champagne Valley. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Programme: Venue: Champagne Sports Resort, Central DrakensbergFriday 9 June 15h00-19h00: Registration at race venue Saturday 10 June 07h00-09h15: Registration and late entries at race venue 08h00: Marathon (Stage 1) & Single Day 08h30: Half-marathon (Stage 1) & Single Day 09h00: Fun Race 11h00: Preliminary results Day 1 posted 12h00: Fun Race Prize Giving Sunday 11 June 07h00-10h00: Registration and late entries at race venue 08h00: Marathon (Stage 2) 09h15: Half-marathon (Stage 2) 09h40: Fun Ride 11h00: Preliminary results Day 2 posted 13h00: Prize giving (Day 2 and Overall) Entries are still open and can be done online at www.nationalmtbseries.com.
  12. The CyclingSA MTB Selection Panel uses the performance of riders at the nominated selection races, to assess riders in contention. To do this, data from results is evaluated during the selection period, to identify those riders who are in contention. While riders are aware of their general results, it is important that we keep them informed of their performance relative to others. The final SA MTB Marathon team is limited to a maximum of 2 Women and 2 Men, but final selection is, of course, subject to performance and meeting the criteria. The Table below shows current performance levels and assessments: Final team selection will be done immediately after the SA MTB Marathon Championships, which will be held at Cascades, Pietermaritzburg on 21st May 2017.
  13. South African marathon champion, Robyn de Groot, was crowned the queen of Clarens when she won both stages and the overall title at Round 3 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Clarens in the Eastern Free State at the weekend. Click here to view the article
  14. Vera Adrian Leads Candice Lill and Robyn de Groot up the slick rock section during stage 1 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za The Ascendis Health rider outsprinted her main rivals to win the 69km Stage 1 narrowly and then pedaled to a more convincing win on the 54km Stage 2 to secure the maximum points for the event and claim the Round 3 victory. Second place went to Team dormakaba’s Candice Lill, with her Namibian teammate, Vera Adrian claiming third place. On Stage 1 a lead group of six riders formed after the first long climb comprising De Groot, Lill, Adrian, Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk), Yolandi du Toit (Garmin) and Samantha Sanders (Valencia). Just before halfway on the main climb of the day, De Groot, Adrian, Lill and Sanders rode clear with Sanders dropping off higher up on the ascent. De Groot let the dormakaba pair set the pace to the finish and then outsprinted them to claim the victory in a time of 2:51:28. Lill was second and Adrian third. Candice Lill reaches the Porcupine Trail plateau as she makes her way onto the final stretch back into Clarens, during the second stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za On Stage 2, Sanders was the primary aggressor, setting the pace on the early singletrack and ascents. But De Groot managed to get a solid lead up the main climb near the finish and stayed clear to win in a time of 2:21:05. Lill followed her home less than a minute and a half later in 2:22:28 with Adrian rounding out the podium another 45 seconds later. “I managed to ride clear of the others up the main climb near the end. I had a little tumble, which slowed me down and I lost a bit of my rhythm, but I managed to pick it up again and stay ahead until the finish,” said De Groot after the finish of Stage 2. An Aerial view of Robyn de Groot as she leads the elite women, consisting of Candice Lill, Vera Adrian, Theresa Ralph and Samantha Sanders during Stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “The trails were really nice today compared to yesterday. A lot more challenging with more singletrack and some beautiful views. It’s been great to spend a weekend racing in Clarens,” smiled De Groot. “The two-day format makes the racing a lot more competitive and you have to plan well to ensure you are in contention for both days and the overall. It’s a lot more exciting than the previous format,” added De Groot. “Robyn went on one of the climbs near the end, which is what I was expecting. I was trying to stay within sight of her but just couldn’t get any closer before the finish,” said Lill. “Racing with Candice I have had to up my mountain bike game. I’m very happy with my result. I enjoyed these two days because they were short and fast and the scenery here is just amazing,” said Adrian. Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) catching her breath in the finish chute after a fast paced 1st stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za With both stage times combined, De Groot’s winning time was 5:12:33, 1:24 ahead of runner-up Lill with Adrian rounding out the podium in 5:14:49. Sanders ended up in fourth place with Du Toit claiming fifth. Round 4 of the 2017 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series is another two-day race format on 10 and 11 June at Champagne Valley in the Central Drakensberg. To enter or for more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Candice Lill and Vera Adrian elated on the finish line after their 2nd and 3rd place positions of the 1st stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 3, Clarens Marathon Women Stage 1: 1 Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 2:51:28 2 Candice Lill (RSA) Team dormakaba 2:51:29 3 Vera Adrian (NAM) Team dormakaba 2:51:31 4 Samantha Sanders (RSA) Valencia 2:55:10 5 Theresa Ralph (RSA) Galileo Risk 2:55:15 6 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin 2:55:24 7 Heidi Wahl (RSA) 2:57:41 8 Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv Giant 3:15:34 9 Hayley Smith (RSA) Bell Equipment 3:18:29 10 Maricel Bekker (RSA) 3:22:16Women Stage 2: 1 Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 2:21:05 2 Candice Lill (RSA) Team dormakaba 2:22:28 3 Vera Adrian (NAM) Team dormakaba 2:23:18 4 Samantha Sanders (RSA) Valencia 2:25:53 5 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin 2:26:46 6 Theresa Ralph (RSA) Galileo Risk 2:27:40 7 Vanessa Bell (RSA) Bells Cycling 2:28:35 8 Hanli Cilliers (RSA) 2:30:00 9 Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv Giant 2:40:08 10 Hayley Smith (RSA) Bell Equipment 2:40:26 Women combined final positions: 1 Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 5:12:33 2 Candice Lill (RSA) Team dormakaba 5:13:57 3 Vera Adrian (NAM) Team dormakaba 5:14:49 4 Samantha Sanders (RSA) Valencia 5:21:03 5 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin 5:22:10 6 Theresa Ralph (RSA) Galileo Risk 5:22:55 7 Hanli Cilliers (RSA) 5:54:00 8 Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv Giant 5:55:42 9 Haley Smith (RSA) Bell Equipment 5:58:55 10 Jessica Alcock (RSA) 6:05:47 Half-marathon Females combined – final positions 1 Nicola van der Walt 3:18:16 2 Tanya Kotze 3:18:29 3 Monique du Toit 3:23:39 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  15. Matthys Beukes emerged victorious at Round 3 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Clarens in the Eastern Free State at the weekend, winning the men’s marathon stage race title in emphatic fashion. Click here to view the article
  16. HB Kruger (Team BCX) makes his way up a section of slick rock during stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Second overall was HB Kruger of Team BCX with Beukes’s Pyga Eurosteel teammate, Philip Buys taking third place after another exciting weekend of racing the new two-day format. For Beukes, the overall victory was incredibly sweet and confirmed his return to peak form after having spent three months recovering from a serious crash that damaged his hand, his shoulder and his foot. It was also his first ever overall win at an Ashburton Investments National MTB Series event. Philip Buys and teammate Matthys Beukes bump fists in victory as they celebrate their team win of the second stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za On Saturday, Beukes and Kruger went on the attack before halfway through the 69km stage and managed to hold their lead to the finish. In the final kilometre Beukes managed to pull clear of Kruger and claimed the stage win in a time of 02 hours 29 minutes and 16 seconds. Kruger rolled home second seven seconds later with Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) taking third place another minute back. The next seven finishers were all home within the next minute, confirming the tight racing on a day when the winning average speed was a very rapid 27.7kph! Day 2’s 54km route was shorter, but included more singletrack and a tough climb and rough descent near the finish. Beukes and Buys set a fast pace from the start and split the A group up considerably before halfway. On the big climb late in the stage, only series leader, Max Knox, was able to stay with the Pyga Eurosteel duo. On the rough, loose descent to the finish Knox was stung by a bee, which caused him to take a tumble, leaving him to limp to the end with a bent rear derailleur. Beukes and Buys charged ahead to secure first and second on the stage, with Buys crossing just a head of Beukes in a time of 2:02:02. HB Kruger (Team BCX) comfortably crosses the finish line in second place of the first stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Bell caught and passed Knox in the final 100 metres to secure third place on the stage a minute and a half after Buys and Beukes had rolled home. Kruger managed to grab fifth place 1:44 behind Buys. He’d done enough to be able to hold onto his second place overall behind the elated Beukes. “The plan for today (Day 2) was for me to look after Matthys to defend his lead. If we could try and get the minute and half that I was down yesterday, we’d try, but the priority was getting Matthys to the finish safely and fast,” said Buys afterwards. “It’s great to finally win. I have been second and third before at National MTB Series events, but this is my first win. It’s a good weekend for me,” said Beukes. “On the last big climb we pushed the pace hard. Max (Knox) stayed with us but on the descent Philip went to the front and just pushed the limits. I followed his wheel and we managed to get away and rolled into the finish. It’s our first win in the new team colours, which is great for our sponsors and supporters too,” smiled Beukes. “It was an aggressive race from the gun. Matthys went quite early on the attack and was on his own for a bit. I rode across to him on quite a gnarly section. The guys behind must have lagged for a bit as we got a gap quite quickly. Matthys was really strong and he opened up a gap on me on the last bit of singletrack. He was a well deserved winner,” said Kruger after Stage 1. Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out) navigates the featured singletrack of the Titanic Trail on Stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za With both stage times combined, Beukes’s winning time was 4:31:19, 1:50 ahead of runner-up Kruger with Buys’s strong second stage putting him in third place in a time of 4:33:27. Bell ended up in fourth place with Knox fifth. Knox retains the overall series lead after three rounds. Round 4 of the 2017 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series is another two-day race format on 10 and 11 June at Champagne Valley in the Central Drakensberg. To enter or for more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) leads Philip Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) and Arno du Toit (LCB Racing) over a slick rock section during stage 1 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 3, Clarens Marathon Men Stage 1: 1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:29:16 2 HB Kruger (RSA) Team BCX 2:29:23 3 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:30:30 4 Konny Looser (SUI) BIXS 2:30:50 5 Waylon Woolcock (RSA) Team BCX 2:30:50 6 Travis Walker (RSA) Ellsworth 2:30:54 7 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 2:31:05 8 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:31:25 9 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 2:31:31 10 Willie Smit (RSA) Road Cover 2:31:40Men Stage 2: 1 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:02:02 2 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:02:03 3 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:03:35 4 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 2:03:40 5 HB Kruger (RSA) Team BCX 2:03:46 6 Travis Walker (RSA) Ellsworth 2:03:55 7 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 2:04:47 8 Gert Heyns (RSA) Ascendis Health 2:05:57 9 Timothy Hammond (RSA) 2:06:07 10 Arno du Toit (RSA) LCB Racing 2:06:10 Men combined final positions: 1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 4:31:19 2 HB Kruger (RSA) Team BCX 4:33:09 3 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 4:33:27 4 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 4:34:05 5 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 4:34:45 6 Travis Walker (RSA) Ellsworth 4:34:49 7 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 4:36:18 8 Timothy Hammond (RSA) 4:37:47 9 Konny Looser (SUI) BIXS 4:38:00 10 Arno du Toit (RSA) LCB Racing 4:38:27 Half-marathon Males combined – final positions 1 Pieter du Toit 2:29:25 2 Brendan van Eeden 2:37:28 3 Marc Oliver Pritzen 2:38:15 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  17. South African towns don’t come more quaint that Clarens in the Eastern Free State. But with that quaint factor comes dollops of stimulating mountain biking in the Rooiberg mountain range that offers plenty of challenge and even more reward. For 2017, the Clarens round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series sees the continuation of the new two-day racing format, which is sure to be a success. Click here to view the article
  18. The scenic trails of Clarens make the 3rd round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series a yearly favourite. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za The two-day format also makes the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series events more attractive as a weekend-away trip, with the additional events on the Saturday (20km Fun Race) and Sunday (10km Fun Ride) offering all mountain bikers, no matter what level or age, an opportunity to enjoy mountain biking on well marked and managed routes at some of South Africa’s most beautiful towns. After three rounds 2016 National Marathon champion, Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out), leads the men’s series rankings. His second place at Round 1 and two stage wins and the overall win at Round 2 give him 11853 points. Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) is second on 10857 points with Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) in third on 10516 points. All three will be at Clarens, as well as Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) and the Pyga EuroSteel team of Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes. “Clarens is one of the best venues and most scenic tracks of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series. I’m looking forward to racing the new two-day format there. Obviously, after the Cape Epic, everyone is a little tired. So I think whoever recovers best and has good legs for both days will win. I’m feeling healthy and strong after the Epic, but we’ll see how I feel at race pace! It’s important for me to have two solid stages so that I can build on my overall standings points,” said Knox, who was fourth overall at the Cape Epic. “We really enjoy the trails there and the altitude makes it challenging! Gawie finished second at Clarens last year and I was fourth. After a disappointing Cape Epic we are looking to do well at Clarens,” said Bell. “I’m looking forward to the race. We've always done well there, but it's going to be hard so close to Cape Epic,” said Combrinck. “Matthys and I will both be taking part. It will be our first race after Epic and our focus leading up to Clarens will be to recover from Epic and stay healthy,” said Buys. Heyns is one of the few top male entrants that didn’t do the Cape Epic. He will obviously be fresher than his rivals and could well have a physical and psychological advantage because of this. Max Knox tight on the heels of the Team NAD riders, Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck at last year's Ashburton Investments National MTB in Clarens. All three riders will be pushing for podium positions this weekend. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za In the women’s category, series leader, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) will start as the favourite. A series of bad luck incidents put paid to her Cape Epic victory hopes, but a good result at Clarens will go some way to giving the South African champion reason to smile. “To be honest, I’m still getting used to this new two-day format. It is an exciting format and I always look forward to racing no matter what. ” added De Groot. Sure to challenge De Groot is Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia), who was a close second to De Groot at Round 1 in Sabie and who has come off the Cape Epic with a runner-up finish in the Mixed category. “Look, I’m uncertain as to what the Epic has done to me but I’m looking forward to the trails at Clarens. The venue is always one of my favourites,” said McDougall. Robyn de Groot leading Candice Lill and Samantha Sanders at the 2016 edition of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Clarens. 3 Elite women who will be aiming for podium positions this weekend.Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Also tackling the Clarens round with Cape-Epic legs are Samantha Sanders (Valenica) and Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk). Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling) will have fresh legs, as she didn’t race the Cape Epic and looking forward to a good race. “I’m looking forward to the event – one of my favourite races of the year. My form is coming along nicely and I hope that the strong ladies field that was at the Epic this year will be there too. Its’ always great to have a stronger ladies field so that you push yourself that much harder.” said Bell. Candice Lill and Vera Adrian of Team dormakaba, who completed their first Cape Epic, are also on the start list for what should be a hotly contested women’s race. “I have competed at the Clarens round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series since I was a junior and I have such good memories of the town, the rock formations we race through and the rad singletrack. I have no doubt there will be some strong ladies and big names to race against, but I like a challenge,” added Lill. At 1800 metres above sea level (200 metres higher than Johannesburg), Clarens is considered an altitude-racing venue, which has more impact on the riders that don’t live and train in Johannesburg and Pretoria. For the competitive participants doing the two-day format Marathon event, Stage 1 is a 70km route with 1073 metres of ascent, while Stage 2 is 57km long with 1075m of elevation. Much of the route on Stage 1 will use the Titanic Trail, while Stage 2 will incorporate large sections of the Porcupine Trail. Both trails are a legacy of previous editions of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series and are now used to help attract mountain bikers to the town all year round. For the Half-marathon event competitors, Saturday’s distance is 40km and Sunday’s stage is 35km. There are also Single Day race options for 70km and 40km on Saturday (no points and no prize money for these). Also on Saturday is the 20km Fun Race and on Sunday the 10km Fun Ride. ProgrammeVenue: Town Square, Main Street, Clarens Saturday 8 April 06h00-09h15: Registration and late entries 07h30: 70km Marathon (Stage 1) & Single Day 09h00: 40km Half-marathon (Stage 1) & Single Day 09h35: 20km Fun Race 11h00: Preliminary results Day 1 posted 12h00: Fun Race Prize Giving Sunday 9 April 06H30–09h10: Race office open & 10km Fun Ride registration 07h30: 56km Marathon (Stage 2) 09h00: 35km Half-marathon (Stage 2) 09h20: 10km Fun Ride 11h00: Preliminary results Day 2 posted 12h00: Prize giving (Day 2 and Overall) Entries are still open and can be done online at www.nationalmtbseries.com
  19. Ashburton Investments, the title sponsor of the South African National MTB Series, has announced it will equal the Elite women’s prize money. Click here to view the article
  20. This follows the Facebook message posted by three-time Cape Epic winner and Swiss champion, Ariane Lüthi of Team Spur. Lüthi, a Swiss national who lives in Stellenbosch for most of the year, is a former winner of the series. Candice Neethling leads the women's charge through Grabouw's soaked routes this past weekend at the first round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Grabouw. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za While grateful for an increase in the Elite women’s prize money over 2016, Lüthi still recognised that the men earned more prize money than the women, for the same race distance, and refused, on principle, to participate in Saturday’s event in Grabouw. Ashburton Investments, a part of the FirstRand Group, a company that is highly committed to gender equality, has agreed that equal prize money should be given for the entire series. “We are firmly committed to the series, and as such, we want to encourage the participation of every rider. The prize money should be equal, and our hope is that this will further encourage more women to enter and compete. We would like to thank miss Lüthi for bringing it to our attention, and that we are able to rectify this discrepancy for the remainder of the series” said Marie Creighton from Ashburton Investments. “I am glad that we can offer an equal prize purse to the ladies, without lowering the men’s prize money and I do believe that the result is a win for all. I would like to thank Ashburton Investments for the continued support and look forward to a great series in 2017!” said Fritz Pienaar, Director of Advendurance, the company that organises the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series. “This is fantastic news and I cannot thank Ashburton Investments enough for increasing their sponsorship towards our beautiful sport and, in particular, their support of equality within it. I also need to thank Fritz Pienaar for contacting me this morning. We had a very positive conversation. I understand his position as a businessman. He did and still does a lot for the professionalism of the sport and I truly appreciate that,” said Lüthi. “The way Ashburton Investments as well as Fritz Pienaar responded to my request is admirable. The fact that Advendurance, with the help of Ashburton Investments are willing to change the prize money structure and make it equal for women and men, is something I don’t take for granted. It is often very difficult to effect change. Maybe that is one of the biggest reasons why I love South Africa. I love it for its open mindedness,” added Lüthi. “It is important to me to clarify that it was never my intention to make it a fight between Advendurance and myself or between men and women for that matter. My intention was to create awareness for the gender inequality that there still is, making people think and causing a discussion about it. If the cycling community's response to this issue could be mirrored in broader society I really believe we could move forward on many more challenging social issues,” said Lüthi. The Ashburton Investments National MTB Series is the most prestigious mountain bike racing series in South Africa and widely considered the best organised series in the world. It comprises seven rounds of racing in six provinces and caters for all levels of mountain bike racer, from novice to professional. For more information on Ashburton Investments, visit www.ashburtoninvestments.com. For more information on the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com.
  21. South African marathon champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) won a tight tussle with Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) to capture the overall honours in the women’s division of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Sabie at the weekend. Click here to view the article
  22. The Elite women line up on start for the first stage of the new two-day format of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Sabie. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting It was the inaugural two-day format race in the prestigious seven-round series and it delivered the exciting racing it was designed to, as De Groot held off McDougall in a sprint to win the 64.5km first stage in wet, muddy conditions. Much drier conditions greeted the competitors on Sunday and De Groot and McDougall were once again locked in battle on the shorter 44km leg, held predominantly on the York Timbers trails. De Groot managed to move away near the end though to secure the stage win and the overall title. McDougall finished in second place, 36 seconds later and sealed her second place overall, while Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling), third on both stages, grabbed the final overall podium place. Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) a second ahead of Robyn de Groot as they battle it out in the various sections in the first stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Sabie. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting “Going into today I was nervous. I’d never ridden any of these routes used on Day 2. I know Amy knows the trails really well. But out there it was cat and mouse. We both have different strengths so we were yo-yoing past one another at different sections. I’m glad to have been able to take the win overall,” said De Groot. “I think from a professionalism point of view, it would be good to have all the pro ladies competing at these races, especially since Ashburton Investments increased the women’s prize money to be equal to the men’s,” added De Groot, when asked about the lack of depth in the women’s field. “I absolutely love these trails. I know them very well from having competed in the York Timbers Enduro; and from living here for a year. I had a bit of bad luck today with my wheel, but it was a great battle with Robyn, who was the stronger rider today,” said McDougall. Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) content as she crosses the finish line in a sprint finish against Amy Beth McDougall. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting 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 results MarathonWomen Stage 1: Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 3:06:06 Amy Beth McDougall (RSA) Valencia 3:06:06 Vanessa Bell (RSA) Bells Cycling 3:25:59 Sarah Hill (RSA) Cycling Specific 3:38:52 Emily Clarke (RSA) 3:40:18 Kristen Louw (RSA) 3:53:54 Julia Kotze (RSA) 3:55:34 Janice Venter (RSA) 4:11:30 Melanie Roux (RSA) 4:20:30 Kerry-Leigh Tomaselli (RSA) 4:31:28 Women Stage 2: Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 2:16:24 Amy Beth McDougall (RSA) Valencia 2:16:59 Vanessa Bell (RSA) Bells Cycling 2:27:46 Emily Clarke (RSA) 2:32:00 Sarah Hill (RSA) Cycling Specific 2:37:43 Julia Kotze (RSA) 2:40:23 Kristen Louw (RSA) 2:43:12 Jessica Alcock (RSA) 2:46:50 Melanie Roux (RSA) 2:59:09 Janice Venter (RSA) 3:03:30 Women combined – final positions: Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 5:22:29 Amy Beth McDougall (RSA) Valencia 5:23:05 Vanessa Bell (RSA) Bells Cycling 5:53:45 Emily Clarke (RSA) 6:12:18 Sarah Hill (RSA) Cycling Specific 6:16:35 Julia Kotze (RSA) 6:35:57 Kristen Louw (RSA) 6:37:06 Janice Venter (RSA) 7:15:00 Melanie Roux (RSA) 7:19:39 Heather Slabbert (RSA) 7:45:07 Half-marathon Females combined – final positions: Tanya Kotze 4:19:20 Anjenel van der Walt 4:32:28 Rimari Sutton 4:47:03 For full marathon and half-marathon results visit www.saseeding.org.
  23. 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
  24. 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.
  25. Event Name: Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Grabouw When: 28 January 2017 Where: Grabouw Country Club, Western Cape Category: MTB Venue: Grabouw Country Club, Grabouw, Western Cape GPS Location: S25 06′ 00.47″ E30 45′ 20.91″ Elevation: 319m Terrain: Single Track, Jeep Track, Gravel Road, Rocky Features: Hand Built single track, Bridges, River Crossings, Spectacular Views, Dams Found in the majestic Groenland, Grabouw lies in the Elgin valley surrounded by glorious Cape mountains and is a mountain biker’s paradise with its scenic and challenging trails. The area has a long history of mountain biking, traversing similar routes with that of the Cape Epic & Wines 2 Whales and features incredibly panoramic views that are set against a background consisting of mountains, vineyards, forests and dams. An idyllic ride, the terrain is mainly made up of farm roads, gravel and dirt roads with single and dual track routes that cross over rivers and bridges, incorporate hilly climbs and offers picturesque views of the Elgin valley and Hottentots Holland mountains to the north and the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve to the south. With routes that cut through farm land and plantations, riders need to aware of farming and forestry vehicles and follow the board markers that will act as a guide to the allocated trails. You can look forward to newly added routes on already great trails, well stocked water points, uncongested routes with little overlap, an expo area, local food stalls & craft beer, massages, bike washes and a VIP area. Go to Event Page
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