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  1. 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
  2. The 2017 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series will open for the first time at Grabouw. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Five of the seven rounds of the 2017 Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series will be held as two-day stage races; and there will be no more ultra-marathon distance at any of the events. The new format has been developed by the series organisers, Advendurance, to allow riders more opportunities to compete for podium places and for those that are keen on stage races to have more affordable options or for use as preparation for other stage races, which are highly popular in South Africa. According to Fritz Pienaar from Advendurance, the decision to drop the ultra-marathon distance was driven by the big gap young riders have to bridge when they leave the Junior category, racing the 45km distance, to suddenly having to cope with the ultra-marathon distance, which is more than double the distance they’re accustomed to. The series then moves to Clarens, a definite favourite for most riders, making it one of the highlights of the year. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “A few years back we added the ultra-marathon distance to help our top athletes prepare for world championships. At the time it was necessary, but now it is only benefiting a handful of athletes at most and there is much more that can be done to rather grow the pool of athletes to get to that level where they can go to world champs in the first place,” said Pienaar. “The ultra-marathons were becoming tests of attrition and riders were more focussed on survival, which meant the racing wasn’t as exciting as it could be. We are expecting the new format will invigorate the racing among the top males. “Instead of one podium opportunity per event, the two-day events in the series will offer three podium opportunities – Day 1, Day 2 and overall. This, combined with shorter distances is certain to attract our strong XCO racers, a discipline that has become quite strong in South Africa over the past few years,” added Pienaar. With the two-day events, the prize purse will be split between the first day, the second day and the overall. There will be a long and a short race option at each of the two-day format events. The long race will have a 75km stage on the Saturday and a 50km stage on the Sunday, while the short race will have a 45km stage on the Saturday and a 35km stage on the Sunday. It will still be possible to do just one or the other day, but those participants won’t be eligible for podiums or prizes. Each rider’s top eight performances out of a possible 12 stages will count towards the overall standings. The 5th event of the year will take place on VanGaalen Cheese farm, marking the second and last 1 day event for the 2017 series. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za The season opener on 28 January will still be in the single-day format and will take the series to Grabouw for the first time. Grabouw is a regular Absa Cape Epic venue and riders will be afforded the opportunity to race many of the trails that will feature in the Cape Epic two months later. Multiple world champion Christoph Sauser, who recently announced his comeback and record attempt at the 2017 Cape Epic, has also indicated he will be on the start line in Grabouw. The oldest event in the series, the Sabie leg on 18 and 19 February, will usher in the new format in what is also expected to be the biggest event in the series. Then next up will be the Clarens leg on 8 and 9 April. Two new venues will see the series head deeper into great South African mountain biking territory, including the Drakensberg for the Champagne Valley round on 10 and 11 June and then the Mpumalanga Lowveld for the Kaapsehoop event on 14 and 15 October. In between those will be the single-day format at Van Gaalen on 29 July and the two-day format in the Mpumalanga Highlands at Dullstroom on 2 and 3 September. “I think the new two-day format is going to really give the Ashburton Investments National Mountain bike Series a boost. It’s always been the world’s most innovative mountain bike racing series and it’s great to see Advendurance once again adapting the series to cater best for the changing needs of the mountain bike market,” said Sean Badenhorst, editor at TREAD media and a South African mountain biking guru. Included in the mix is Dullstroom, a definite must for pro riders. The high altitudes are sure to push riders to there limit, making it one of the most exciting races of the year. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “There’s a new crop of exciting talent emerging from a very successful youth racing scene and the new two-stage events will be ideal to develop these young riders into stars of the future, while still allowing the current top riders more opportunities to contest race podiums,” added Badenhorst. New Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series two-day format: Competitive Racing events LONG: Stage 1: Saturday – 75km; Stage 2: Sunday – 50km SHORT: Stage 1: Saturday – 45km; Stage 2: Sunday – 35km FUN: Saturday – 20kmNon-competitive events (single day participants) LONG: Saturday – 75km SHORT: Saturday – 45km FUN RIDE: Sunday - 10km 2017 Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series dates and venues: 28 January: Grabouw, Western Cape 18-19 February: Sabie, Mpumalanga 8-9 April: Clarens, Free State 10-11 June: Champagne Valley, KwaZulu-Natal 29 July: Van Gaalen, North West 2-3 September: Dullstroom, Mpumalanga 14-15 October: Kaapsehoop, Mpumalanga For more information or to pre-enter any of the events, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com
  3. Three fresh venues and a new format will give the Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series a boost for the 2017 South African mountain bike-racing season. Click here to view the article
  4. Swiss racer Konny Looser recovered from a puncture and a crash early on to capture victory at the final round of the Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series at Rooiberg in South Africa’s Limpopo province on Saturday. South African champion, Robyn de Groot rode a flawless race to claim the women’s title. Click here to view the article
  5. Konny Looser on the start line, mentally preparing himself for the tough Rooiberg course ahead. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za. Looser (BIXS) covered the 97km course in hot, dry conditions in a time of 04 hours 11 minutes 00 seconds to secure his first every victory in the prestigious series. Nico Bell of Team NAD finished second a minute later, with Philip Buys of SCOTT LCB Factory Racing rounding out the top three places in 04:18:23. Some early drama struck Looser, making his win even more impressive. He punctured within the first 10km, but managed to repair it with a plug, although it wasn’t the perfect repair and his tyre gradually lost air throughout the race. He also crashed at around 35km while swapping bottles from his jersey to his bike. “It was a silly thing to do at the time and I hit the ground really hard and hurt my arm and my hip. I must have also hit my head because I felt confused for a while,” recalled Looser. At that stage of the race, Looser was in a five-rider lead group with Bell, Buys, Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD) and Lourens Luus (PSG Wealth). Series leader and winner of the four previous rounds, Max Knox (Lowveld Tractors), was further back and ended up withdrawing at the 56km Tech Zone, citing illness. After the Tech Zone, Luus began to push the pace, putting his rivals under pressure, with Combrinck dropping off. Just before the big climb at 60km, Luus punctured, leaving Buys, Bell and Looser out front. On the climb, Looser pushed the pace in an effort to eliminate Buys before they reached the singletrack. “I know Philip is fast in the singletrack and I didn’t want to risk reaching it with him. I tried to attack, but I was sore from my fall. But I must have made some impact because he dropped off,” explained Looser. The hot, dry conditions ultimately gave Looser the break he needed to take control of the race. At the final water point, Bell stopped to get water and Looser didn’t’. With 20km remaining his main concern was managing his front tyre, which had lost more pressure. He succeeded and was elated with his victory. “After trying and trying, I have finally won a round of this great series! I really enjoy the Ashburton Investments Series because the races are all in different parts of South Africa and each course has a different challenge. It’s proper mountain biking and the high level of competition makes for tough racing,” he added. Although he didn’t finish, Knox had already secured enough points before the final round at Rooiberg to secure the series title for the third time. In the women’s race, De Groot (Ascendis Health) avoided taking any risks in an effort to secure a win and give her a shot at winning the series title. Robyn de Groot, leading out the elite women from the start chute. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za. She covered the 70km distance in a time of 3:22:16 to earn the maximum points. Second place went to Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk), who was the series leader going into the final round, with Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling) claiming the final podium spot, her first podium finish in the 2016 Ashburton Investments Series. “Rooiberg is always a proper African mountain bike experience – rocky, thick sand and extreme heat! With the drought, I think it was even more extreme this year. Fortunately for me, all went smoothly,” said De Groot. “It was very important for me to have a good result here. I missed two rounds of the Ashburton Investments Series with my shoulder injury. I hope I’ve done enough to secure the title,” added De Groot. With four wins and a fourth place, De Groot has done enough to claim the 2016 series title. It’s the second time she’s won the coveted crown after having claimed it in 2013. For full results of Round 7 at Rooiberg, visit: www.saseeding.co.za The elite men podium (from left to right) Lourens Luus, Guylin van den Berg, James Ross-Marsh, Gawie Combrinck, Nico Bell, Konny Looser, Philip Buys, Arno du Toit, Adrian Louw, Timothy Hammond. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za. The elite women podium (from left to right) Auralia Edwards, Theresa Ralph, Robyn de Groot, Vanessa Bell, Nina Sender. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za. 2016 Ashburton Investments National Marathon Series Round 7, Rooiberg, Saturday 15 October 2016 Leading results Elite men – 97kmkm Ultra-marathon: 1 Konny Looser (BIXS) 4:11:00 2 Nico Bell (Team NAD) 4:12:00 3 Philip Buys (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing) 4:18:23 4 Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD) 4:20:07 5 Arno du Toit (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing) 4:30:11 6 Adriaan Louw (Contego Swift) 4:30:13 7 Timothy Hammond 4:35:00 8 Guylin van den Berg 4:38:12 9 James Ross-Marsh 4:58:04 10 Lourens Luus 05:05:04 Elite women – 70km marathon: 1 Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) 3:22:16 2 Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) 3:34:01 3 Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling) 3:34:02 4 Nina Sender 4:07:37 5 Auralia Edwards 4:29:51 6 Mariette Hattingh 4:30:46 7 Nora Richards 4:33:05 8 Nadine Pretorius 4:33:13 9 Janice Venter 4:38:52 10 Mone Pieterse 6:65:05
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. The two-day event gives mountain bikers a chance to escape from the city and make a weekend of the experience with the 75km marathon and 116km ultra-marathon taking place on Saturday and the 41km half-marathon, 20km fun race and 10km fun ride on Sunday. “We have the event over two days because it allows families to fully enjoy the mountain biking. Some of our national series events are held over one day, which tends to make it more tricky for the whole family to compete; but not so at Dullstroom. It’s an ideal way to finish off the series,” said Fritz Pienaar of Advendurance, the company that organises the Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series. Situated at just over 2000 metres above sea level, Dullstroom is a gem of a town in the Mpumalanga Highlands developed around fly-fishing, arts and crafts and fine cuisine. It’s less than a three-hour drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria and there’s a wide selection of accommodation making it an ideal destination for a family weekend away. Beautiful scenery and exquisite trails to be experieced at #MTBDullstroom. The hot, dry weather during this week is expected to continue into the weekend, with the expected high temperatures peaking in the low-to-mid 20s.These conditions should give riders the perfect riding conditions with trail surfaces that will be largely firm and dry after the recent rains. The event sees the culmination of the seven race series, which is one of the largest and most prestigious marathon mountain bike series in the world, and has gone from strength to strength in collaboration with the new sponsor Ashburton Investments in 2015. Swiss racer, Ariane Kleinhans (RECM), has already wrapped up the women’s series title and will not be at Dullstroom to contest the final event. Her three wins from the five events she contested have given her a sufficient lead to ensure that even if second-placed Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) wins at Dullstroom, she won’t score enough points to topple Kleinhans from the top spot. De Groot’s only win in the Ashburton Investments Series this year came at Van Gaalen, which doubled as the South African Championships and she will be keen to wrap the series up with a victory at Dullstroom, where she was victorious in the 2014 edition. The battle for the men’s Ashburton Investments National MTB Series title is still undecided going into the final round. Swiss racer, Konny Looser (Wheeler iXS) is the current leader, but will not be in Dullstroom to contest the final event. Only Max Knox (Biogen Volcan) can realistically challenge Looser for the coveted crown, but the South African will have to win the race or finish a very close second to score the 3784 points required to pass Looser’s total of 18203. Knox has only contested four events in the ultra-marathon series so far and the final series points are calculated on the best five results for each rider. The ultra-marathon event on Saturday will be raced over a distance of 116km with 2500 metres of vertical ascent, while the marathon distance that the elite women will contest, is 75km with 1600 metres of climbing. In addition to the Ultra-marathon and the marathon on Saturday, there’s a 41km half-marathon, a 20km fun race and a 10km fun ride on Sunday. Online entries are closed, but late entries can be done before the start at the race venue, Dunkeld Country Estate or on Friday at the Adventure Centre, Dullstroom. While the Dullstroom event marks the final race of the 2015 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series, it’s also the first major race of spring, and many will be eager to see their form after a relatively mild winter by South African standards. It’s also a crucial time of the year for professional riders who are not guaranteed a contract for 2016 yet and many will be eager to impress potential sponsors with a strong performance. Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series Round 7, Dullstroom, Mpumalanga:Friday 11 September 2015: Adventure Centre, Dullstroom 16h00–1900: Registration and late entries Saturday 12 September 2015: Dunkeld Country Estate 06h15-07h45: Registration and late entries 07h00: Start Ultra-marathon Pro Elite and Amateur 07h10: Start Marathon women 07h30: Start Marathon A Batch + 5min intervals other batches Sunday 13 September 2015: 06h30-09h00: Registration and late entries 07h30: Start Half-marathon A Batch 07h35: Start Half-marathon women A Batch + 5min intervals other batches 08h20: Start 20km Fun Race 09h05: Start 10km Fun Ride For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com
  9. The final round of the 2015 Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series will take place in the scenic high-altitude town of Dullstroom in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province this weekend – 12-13 September. Click here to view the article
  10. Max Knox (Biogen-Volcan) and Ariane Kleinhans (RECM) raced to dominant victories at Round 2 of the Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series in Sabie, in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province on Saturday. Click here to view the article
  11. Knox, the 2009 champion, forced the pace from the first major climb and then led most of the way to claim the men’s 115km ultra-marathon victory in a time of 05 hours 11 minutes and 19 seconds. Waylon Woolcock (Red-E Blend), Knox’s breakaway companion for much of the race, finished second in 5:15:42, with rising star Matt Beers putting in a strong performance to round out the top three places in 5:18:45. In the women’s race, an in-form Kleinhans, a Swiss national living in South Africa, put her rivals under pressure before the first major climb, leading virtually from start to finish to secure her fourth consecutive Sabie win in a time of 3:40:20. South African marathon champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) finished second in 3:46:16, with Swedish national champion, Jennie Stenerhag (Ascendis Health) claiming the final podium spot in 3:54:14. In the men’s race, Matthys Beukes (SCOTT LCB) attacked at the foot of the first major climb, the Mamba, crushing any hopes of a steady ascent up the 3.5km series of switchbacks, which form the base of a 15km climb to the highlands. But his attack was neutralised by his rivals and it was then Knox that made his move. “The surface is very rough on the Mamba and I really didn’t want to be sitting in a bunch, risking a possible puncture, so I moved to the front and upped the pace to split it up. I also know that riders with good form that have attacked on this first climb have often gone on to win here. I had a very good December and January with my training so decided to give it my all,” explained Knox afterwards. Waylon Woolcock on his way to claiming the KOM at round 2. Only Woolcock responded to Knox’s attack, which to many must have seemed suicidal so early in the race. “When Max attacked, we’d only done 17km. I doubted Max’s wisdom briefly, then I remembered that he’s a local and he’s won here before. I figured I should take the risk and follow him and it worked out pretty well in the end,” smiled a weary Woolcock. Woolcock rode across to Knox and managed to claim the King of the Mountains hot spot – in a sprint! The pair then worked together to build their lead for the remainder of the race, which included one 72km loop and one 43km loop. “I realised that Max was stronger than me but I was still eager to hold onto second place. He got away from me on the final climb. I was tired, but rode hard until I heard that I had seven minutes on the next guy, so I tapped off a bit for the last section. I’m very pleased to get a good result here!” added Woolcock. “I was feeling pretty confident coming into the race. I’ve lived in Sabie for about 20 years so I know the terrain. Often you have an ideal race plan in your head. It doesn’t always work out but today everything went exactly to my plan. I only got my new Volcan bike on Wednesday and this was actually my first ride off the tar on it. It was superb!” said an elated Knox. Third-place finisher, Beers, surprised many, including himself with his strong finish. “I got to the end of the first lap at about 70 kays and was horrified at how good I still felt. My goal was a top-five finish here so right then I just went for it. I surprised myself with this performance. I’ve only been riding mountain bikes seriously for two years, but I’m loving it,” said the 21-year-old former moto-x ace, who turned to cycling following a series of injuries. For Kleinhans, the win was another confidence booster ahead of her attempt to defend her ABSA Cape Epic title with Danish teammate, Anika Langvad, next month. Ariane Kleinhans defending her title at the second round in Sabie. “It’s a very good feeling to win Sabie Classic. It really suits me. It’s quite similar to the races in Switzerland, which have big climbs too. I had very good legs today, which is just as well because the competition in South Africa is definitely stronger this year. “I’m feeling stronger than at the same time last year and I’m also more confident in the technical stuff. I did have one small crash today on the slippery moss, but nothing serious and I’m excited for the Cape Epic,” smiled Kleinhans. 2015 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Round 2, Sabie, Saturday 21 February 2015 Leading results Elite men – 115km Ultra-marathon: 1 Max Knox (RSA) Biogen-Volcan 5:11:19 2 Waylon Woolcock (RSA) Red-E Blend 5:15:42 3 Matthew Beers (RSA) 5:18:45 4 Matthys Beukes (RSA) SCOTT LCB 5:22:50 5 Konny Looser (SUI) Meerendal Wheeler 5:26:16 6 Arno du Toit (RSA) SCOTT LCB 5:29:43 7 Adriaan Louw (RSA) Contego 5:31:45 8 Kevin Evans (RSA) Biogen-Volcan 5:32:56 9 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) EAI Cycling 5:32:56 10 Alan Gordon (RSA) 5:33:36 Elite women – 72km marathon: 1 Ariane Kleinhans (SUI) Team RECM 3:40:20 2 Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 3:46:16 3 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) Ascendis Health 3:54:14 4 Candice Neethling (RSA) Freewheel Cycology 3:57:13 5 Vera Adrian (NAM) Meerendal Wheeler 4:02:48 6 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin 4:07:10 7 Vanessa Bell (RSA) 4:09:44 8 Theresa Ralph (RSA) 4:11:05 9 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) 4:19:37 10 Tamaryn Kietzmann (RSA) 4:33:39 The Ashburton Investments National MTB Series now moves to South Africa’s Free State province for Round 3, on 18 April. The event doubles as a round 3 of the 2015 UCI Marathon World Series. For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.co.za. For full results, visit: www.saseeding.co.za.
  12. Former world champions Alban Lakata of Austria and Esther Suss of Switzerland had to fight hard right up to the finish line to claim the men and women’s crowns respectively at the opening round of the Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series at Meerendal Wines near Cape Town, South Africa on Saturday. Click here to view the article
  13. Austria's Alban Lakata celebrates his victory at round 1 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Meerendal Wines in the Western Cape, South Africa on Saturday. // Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon. In the men’s Ultra-marathon race over 105km, Lakata (Topeak Ergon) secured the win in a time of 04 hours 38 minutes 16 seconds, just over a minute-and-a-half ahead of South African Erik Kleinhans (Team RECM), with Kristian Hynek (Topeak Ergon) of the Czech Republic rounding out the top three places a further 20 seconds back. Suss (Meerendal Wheeler) had to outsprint compatriot Ariane Kleinhans (Team RECM) to secure the women’s title in the 70km Marathon distance race, clocking a time of 03:30:05. South African marathon champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) claimed third place three minutes later. Just over a thousand participants competed in the event in races of varying distance in weather conditions that started out cool and cloudy, but became sunny and warm. In the men’s race, South African ace Philip Buys (SCOTT Factory Racing LCB) set a blistering pace on the first major climb, splintering the strong field with only Germany’s Simon Stiebjahn (Team Bulls) able to match the London Olympian. Eventual runner-up, Ariane Kleinhans, marked Swiss compatriot and eventual winner, Esther Suss, closely in the final kilometers of the first round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Meerendal Wines in the Western Cape, South Africa on Saturday. // Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon. After 50km the lead group grew when more South Africans, Darren Lill (Cannondale Blend) and Matthew Beers, Switzerland’s Konny Looser (Meerendal Wheeler), Germany’s Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls) and Kleinhans and Lakata reeled in the eager early leaders. By 70km, the race complexion had changed again as Lakata pushed the pace, taking the lead, followed closely by Kleinhans with 2014 ABSA Cape Epic winner, Hynek, picking his way through after having been outside the top 10 for some time. As the race reached the finale, Lakata began to increase the pressure just enough to open a gap on Kleinhans for the final climb. The Austrian managed to hold his lead to claim the coveted title with a small tumble seeing Kleinhans lose a little more time but still hold on to second place. Hynek, in third, was followed home by Looser, with Sahm, a three-time Cape Epic champion, completing the top five. Meerendal Estate was the host venue for the first round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Meerendal Wines in the Western Cape, South Africa on Saturday. // Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon. The women’s race became a duel between Suss, the current Swiss national champion, and Kleinhans, the 2013 Swiss national champion, who lives in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The intensity of their tussle saw their lead steadily grow over the Ascendis Health pair of De Groot and Swedish national champion, Stenerhag, as well as early protagonist, Candice Neethling of South Africa. But it was never a large lead, with rising South African star, Bianca Haw entering the top five battle in the latter stages. As the leaders neared the finish, Kleinhans attacked. But Suss, one of the most experienced riders in women’s racing, stayed calm and then countered with an attack of her own, quickly putting seconds into Kleinhans. But Kleinhans wasn’t ready to concede defeat and gradually began to claw her way back to Suss in the last couple of kilometres. The effort of the chase took the snap out of her legs though and Suss was able to find something in her reserve tank to power clear in a finish-straight sprint. De Groot, in third, was followed across the line by Stenerhag and Haw respectively in what was a thrilling women’s contest. 2015 Ashburton Investments National Marathon Series Round 1, Meerendal, Saturday 31 January 2015 Leading results Elite men – 105km Ultra-marathon: 1 Alban Lakata (AUT) Topeak Ergon 04hrs38min16sec 2 Erik Kleinhans (RSA) Team RECM 04:39:49 3 Kristian Hynek (CZE) Topeak Ergon 04:40:19 4 Konny Looser (SUI) Meerendal Wheeler 04:41:49 5 Stefan Sahm (GER) Team Bulls 04:46:35 6 Nico Bell (RSA) Team RECM 04:49:30 7 Lourens Luus (RSA) Contego Swift 04:50:29 8 Waylon Woolcock (RSA) Cannondale Blend 04:54:48 9 Arno du Toit (RSA) SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 04:55:46 10 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) ESI Cycling 04:56:46 Elite women – 70km marathon: 1 Esther Suss (SUI) Meerendal Wheeler 03:30:05 2 Ariane Kleinhans (SUI) Team RECM 03:30:08 3 Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 03:33:06 4 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) Ascendis Health 03:35:28 5 Bianca Haw (RSA) Sasol Racing 03:36:50 6 Helen Grobert (GER) Focus 03:37:40 7 Candice Neethling (RSA) Freewheel Cycology 03:46:32 8 Mariske Strauss (RSA) Paarl Media OMX Pro 03:47:32 9 Cherise Stander (RSA) Team RECM 03:47:59 10 Cherie Vale (RSA) Paarl Media OMX Pro 03:49:59 The Ashburton Investments National MTB Series now moves to South Africa’s Mpumalanga province for Round 2, on 21 February. The event doubles as the first round of the 2015 UCI Marathon World Series and promises to draw even more international stars and deliver spectacular racing. For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.co.za.
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