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  1. BCX rider HB Kruger led from start to finish to claim the honours in the 60km feature race of the Paarl MTB Classic in Rhebokskloof Wine Estate today. Photo: Robert Ward The 25-year-old BCX pro from Paarl crossed the finish line in a time of 2:43:58, just under three minutes ahead of Robert Hobson, who stopped the clock in 2:46:34, with Jurgens Uys completing the podium in 2:48:30. The Boland event, which also offered a 30km option, was reinstated this year after a hiatus of a year and Kruger said it had the potential for significant growth. “There are amazing trails in this region and Paarl is a proper playground for mountain bikers,” said Kruger, who won the Liberty Winelands Encounter alongside teammate Waylon Woolcock last month. “It can definitely grow because it is very well organised, the course is well marked and there is a great vibe here.” He was delighted with his performance, even more so because it came in his backyard. “It was great to be able to ride to the start from my home, do the race, and then ride home afterwards,” he said. Kruger said the Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic, which is presented by ASG Events and the City of Drakenstein, offered a testing course with a total ascent of 1 700m. “That is a lot of climbing for this distance but being from Paarl I knew what to expect so I went quite hard up the first climb. “I built up a bit of gap and then I paced myself during the race and tried to stay alert to what was happening behind me.” Kruger said the conditions were dry and slippery, which meant he had to stay focused throughout. “The biggest challenge is going up Paarl Mountain, but there is some great single-track going down into Rhebokskloof. “However, it is a fairly long section and you still have to work coming down because it’s easy to make a mistake and take a tumble if you are not focused.” He said he had a technical issue over the closing 10km when his chain kept on slipping off the jockey wheel, but was able to manage the situation. Cape Town’s Carmen Buchacher (centre) won the women’s race in the Paarl MTB Classic in in Rhebokskloof Wine Estate today. At the podium presentation were, from left, Bestmed executive in marketing and distribution Chris Luyt, Robyn Assad (fourth), An-Li Kachelhoffer (second), Buchacher, Bianca Martinaglia (third) and Rozanna Schreiber (fifth). Photo: Robert Ward In the women’s race, Capetonian Carmen Buchacher also dominated from early on to lay the foundation for a comfortable victory and the 29-year-old was pleased to sign off in style before leaving for Europe later in the day. She clocked 3:11:51 to beat Team Bestmed-ASG’s An-Li Kachelhoffer (3:30:06) and Bianca Martinaglia (3:44:50). “I took the lead from the start and there was not that much pressure,” said Buchacher. “I was able to hold a steady pace throughout and to be cautious on the single-track because I’m flying out this evening so could not afford any mistakes.” She backed up Kruger’s view, describing it as “a phenomenal event”. “For example, they ensured there were enough water points along the way, especially where the sections were a bit hectic, so the general rider was well looked after.” Adding to that, she said it was “a beautiful region and the weather is great”. The men’s 30km race was won by Rudi Koen in 1:16:37. He was followed home by Fourie Fick in 1:22:06 and Bobby Troskie in 1:24:21. Yolande Peacock took the women’s title in 1:55:43, followed by Marike Jordaan in 2:11:03 and Yolanda Engelbrecht in 2:30:22.
  2. After not featuring on the cycling calendar last year, race director Darren Herbst said they had decided to reintroduce the event next month after an overwhelming demand from the cycling fraternity. The third Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic will take riders through the scenic Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve and along custom-built single-track trails. Photo: Capcha Photography. He said the third edition, presented by ASG Events in partnership with the City of Drakenstein on May 20, will take participants through the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, Rhebokskloof Wine Estate and past the Taal Monument. “I can’t put into words how beautiful the scenery is and how excited I am about the new single-track we’ve created,” said Herbst. “It’s an experience I can truly say the riders won’t forget.” He said they were providing 60km and 30km options to cater for riders of all levels. “For the long distance riders, there’s a lot of new single-track and plenty of great views as they get to experience riding along the top of Paarl Mountain. “The route does have a kick or two in it so it will be for the more seasoned riders.” He said they had placed a lot of focus on the shorter race and had included a number of custom-built tracks more suited to “weekend warrior type riders”. “In a lot of other events the shorter race is neglected, so we’ve really concentrated on providing something that’s really special.” He said the 30km event incorporated some of the single-track sections – especially the newer ones – of the longer race. With much of the single-track for the revamped event created from scratch, Herbst said the route would offer a completely new experience for the field of about 1 000 that will take to the start at Rhebokskloof. “With the route we’ve put together, along with the overall experience, the day will really be something special.” Visit www.asgevents.co.za/paarlmtb/ to enter or for more information.
  3. Warm, windless conditions brought the inaugural Bestmed National Mountain Bike Series to a perfect close when hundreds of riders descended on Rhebokskloof Wine Estate for the Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic, presented by the City of Drakenstein and ASG, on Sunday. Click here to view the article
  4. Few riders enjoyed the final event of the series more than winner Rikus Visser, who climbed to an uncontested victory in the 60km feature race in a time of 2:48:58. Petrus Malherbe finished a distant second in 2:53:39, with Corbin Mann rounding out the podium in 2:54:51. “It was just a great day out on the bike,” said Visser. “I guess I was lucky that none of the higher ranked riders were here, but I guess each field has its own winner,” laughed the 43-year-old. Perfect conditions helped Rikus Visser secure the win at the Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic, presented by the City of Drakenstein and ASG, at the Rhebokskloof Wine Estate on Sunday. Photo: Warren Elsom | Capcha Photo “I rode last year and loved it. This race has some of the best single-track I have ever seen and the scenery is breathtaking. I will definitely come back next year.” With overnight rain having settled the dust on the trails, the three eventual podium finishers broke away from the main bunch soon after the start. Visser attacked again on the first climb and quickly opened up a gap on Malherbe and Mann. “I was behind the other two, but when we hit the first climb I was able to power through and pass them. Then we hit some single-track and the guys started closing the gap, but with the second climb I increased my lead again.” Showing his power once more on that ascent, he rode away from his chasers, increasing his lead to more than four minutes and cementing the victory. “I never planned on attacking on the climbs, the conditions were just so ideal that I was able to win it today. “We could not have asked for better; there was no wind to speak of and it wasn’t too hot either. Really just an awesome day for mountain biking.” The Durbanville resident’s victory comes only a day after he competed in the Coronation Double Century, making this a truly remarkable win. In the women’s race, Anja van Zyl, 24, was the first to cross the line in 3:39:24. She finished more than a minute ahead of Sarah Davies in 3:40:47, with Hendre de Villiers taking third in 3:48:39. The shorter 30km race that preceded the main event also delivered some great results. Rossouw Bekker led the men’s field from early in the race and won in a time of 1:32:47. He was followed home by runner-up Rudi Koen in 1:34:03 and third-placed Konrad Blumers in 1:35:07. Mia de Villiers was the unchallenged women’s race winner in 2:00:55. Rone Lourens claimed second in 2:07:36 and Teri-Joe Leyland completed the top three in 2:15:45. Find Paarl MTB Classic on Facebook or follow @PaarlMTBClassic.
  5. Series leader Pieter Seyffert (Altech-Autopage) has been forced to miss out on the race after crashing at the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge earlier this month. The final race of the Bestmed National Cycling Series, the Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic, takes place on Sunday. Series leader Pieter Seyffert, seen here winning the Lost City MTB Challenge in August, will sit out due to injury. Photo: Full Stop Communications. "I had a bad fall in September and hurt my back. I had recovered well, but then I fell in the last four kilometres of the 94.7 race and hurt it again,” said Seyffert. With a pair of wins in the Lost City MTB Challenge and Satellite MTB Classic races, he has built up a comfortable overall lead, which he hopes will be enough to clinch the seven-race series. “I am very disappointed that I have to give Paarl a miss. I will however be following the race closely. “I saw one or two guys that might be able to pass me on the rankings, but I am holding thumbs that I have done enough to win the series." Hot on his heels is a bunch of eight riders, headed by former pro Nic White (EuropcarSA) and Martin Wesemann (Giant), who share the number two spot. Last weekend’s Ballito Expedition winner Matthew Wilkinson is also in with a chance, as are Michael Pullock, Kobus Burger, Gerrit Rautenbach, Callum Hilton and Alasdair Garnett. In the women’s series, Ballito Expedition 25km winner Chloe Bateson tops the standings, closely followed by three-time Sondela MTB Challenge champion Ronel van Straaten, with Mandy de Beer third. The 60km feature race, which is presented by ASG, leaves the wine estate just outside the Western Cape town and covers the northern slopes of Paarl Mountain and contoured trails around the iconic Taal Monument. The 30km short course starts at 6am, with the longer distance following two hours later to allow all of the almost a thousand participants to enjoy route highlights such as the 9km stretch of fast-flowing single-track into the finish. Find Paarl MTB Classic on Facebook or follow @PaarlMTBClassic.
  6. The race for the inaugural Bestmed National Cycling Series mountain biking title has been blown wide open ahead of the final event, the Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic, at Rhebokskloof Wine Estate this coming Sunday. Click here to view the article
  7. The picturesque town of Paarl will come to a virtual standstill as residents and riders turn out for the second annual Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic on November 22. Click here to view the article
  8. Presented by the City of Drakenstein municipality and ASG, the one-day classic is fast becoming one of the most iconic, must-do races on the national racing calendar. The second annual Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic, presented by the City of Drakenstein and ASG, rolls out on November 22. Photo: Ewald Sadie. As the final event of the Bestmed National Mountain Biking Series, some of the country’s top names will be among the 1 500-strong field lining up on race day. Following the success of the inaugural race last year, officials in South Africa’s third oldest town have thrown their weight behind this landmark event. “This is not just another mountain bike race, said event organiser Wynand de Villiers. “It’s something really special and a once-a-year opportunity to come and conquer Paarl Mountain. “You can’t call yourself a mountain biker if you haven’t ridden this.” De Villiers said every finisher in both the 30km and 60km race would earn those bragging rights, with an “I conquered Paarl Mountain” medal as proof. He said his route-building team had tried to unearth every bit of rideable terrain in the area and that the end result was the very best way to experience the mountain and the surrounding Simonsberg and Drakenstein ranges. “These imposing ranges are just an unbelievable sight at that time of the morning and you can even see Table Mountain from the top.” Participants will also come within 200m of the distinctive Taal Monument, another standout feature on the landscape. “Riders in both events will finish on a nine-kilometre stretch of downhill single-track to the finish on a lush grass embankment at Rhebokskloof Wine Estate,” said De Villiers. “I personally believe it’s one of the best bits of fast-flowing single-track in SA.” To ensure maximum enjoyment of this section, he said the short-course riders would start at 6am – a full two hours ahead of the feature race participants. “That last bit of single-track is just so special that we want to give every rider the chance to enjoy and complete his or her race in a blissful, congestion-free environment.” De Villiers said finishers would also be rewarded with an ice-cold Coke or a craft beer from CBC – the fastest growing independent brewery in the country. “The CBC waterpoint is a very popular stop – it’s almost like riding into a beer tent. But there are so many good things about this event, it’s hard to name them all. “If you’re not hooked on mountain biking before this, it will be a completely different picture afterwards.” Entries close on November 15 at www.asgevents.co.za. For more information e-mail eventsupport@asgworld.co.za or phone 076 621 1807. Alternatively, find Paarl MTB Classic on Facebook or follow @PaarlMTBClassic.
  9. Following a successful inaugural Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic, the race organisers have improved the route to showcase even more breathtaking landscapes and awesome single-track in the winelands surrounding the Western Cape Town. Click here to view the article
  10. The beautiful Rhebokskloof Wine Estate will now be the official host venue for Paarl’s signature mountain bike event on November 22, and route director Darren Herbst is very excited about the move. Riders can look forward to a new and improved route for this year's Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic as the event moves to the Rhebokskloof Wine Estate for its second edition. Photo: Jetline Action Photo "The move to Rhebokskloof is purely to improve the route and overall experience for all the riders taking part,” said Herbst. “One of the main considerations for the changes was the safety of the participants, and we feel that has been improved greatly." Herbst said about 70 per cent of the trail would be the same as last year, with much of the tar road sections being replaced by safer off-road trails. The venue change from the Parys Sports Grounds to Rhebokskloof on the northern slopes of Paarl Mountain gives them more access to the very popular single-track on the wine estate. "We always had an idea of what we wanted to do with the trail, but after last year's event a lot of the riders had some suggestions, and we took them to heart. “We listened to the guys and came up with some awesome new route ideas," said Herbst. The trails at Rhebokskloof consist of a 14km and an extended 21km section that will form part of both the 30km and 60km races that make up the Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic. While sections of the Rhebokskloof trails were incorporated into last year's feature route, Herbst said the short-course riders would also get to experience the popular trail and enjoy a real mountain biking experience. "Riders of both distances will get to ride parts of Rhebokskloof's amazing single-track. We did not get to showcase enough of Rhebokskloof last year, and now we are very excited at the prospect." Herbst added that Rhebokskloof’s versatility as a venue offered much more for riders and their families. “The restaurant offers great meals, there is entertainment for little ones and wine lovers can enjoy the estate’s wide selection of fine wines. "I believe we are creating something really great with this event, and the shift to the new venue is just another improvement we are bringing to the Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic," said Herbst. The field for the classic, which is presented by the City of Drakenstein and ASG Events, will be limited to 1 500 riders. As the final mountain biking event in the Bestmed National Cycling Series, it is expected to draw significant interest from riders vying for overall honours. Enter at www.asgevents.co.za before November 15. For more info, e-mail eventsupport@asgworld.co.za or phone 076 621 1807. Alternatively, find Paarl MTB Classic on Facebook or follow @PaarlMTBClassic.
  11. Swedish marathon champion Jennie Stenerhag (right), pictured here with Robyn de Groot at this year’s sani2c, was the women’s race winner at the inaugural Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic, presented by the City of Drakenstein, in the Cape Winelands on Sunday. Sim, riding in the colours of Robert Daniel, crossed the finish line first at the Paarl Arboretum to claim the men’s 60km title in a time of 2:44:08. He was more than a minute clear of runner-up Billy Stelling, who finished in 2:45:26, with Craig Gerber third in 2:47:12. Stenerhag, who finished second alongside Candice Neethling in last week’s Wines2Whales stage race, took an uncontested victory in the women’s race in 3:01:13. Trailing the Cape Brewing Company rider by a good 10 minutes was Marleen Lourens, who clocked a time of 3:11:13, while Nadia Visser rounded out the podium in 3:12:52. According to Sim, the crisp windy conditions on the day and long stretches of single-track riding had played perfectly into his hands. After stopping shortly after the start to adjust his tyre pressure, he said he had been forced to race hard initially to catch the leaders. “There was a group of about 10 guys going up the first hill, which was a flattish climb on a dirt road and not too technical. “Immediately I could see that Craig was strong at the front because that type of surface suits him as a former road rider.” Sim said he had been happy to sit behind the first four riders and catch his breath as he plotted his strategic getaway inside the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve. “I was cognisant of the fact that there would be a long single-track coming up and that’s my specialty. “I wanted to get into that section first, so that’s what I did and luckily got a bit of a gap there.” The Capetonian put a couple of minutes into chasers Stelling and Gerber on the flowing 10km descent. On the snaking trails through the Rhebokskloof Wine Estate, Sim caught sporadic glimpses of his pursuers but maintained his almost two-minute lead as he rode alone for the second half of the race. “On the second climb, which was quite long, I put a bit more time into them. When I crested the hill, I looked back and couldn’t see them but they must have made some gains over the last 20km.” Their efforts were however not enough to catch Sim over the closing kilometres as he raced unaccompanied through the streets of Paarl to the finish. “Having so much single-track definitely played to my advantage. “Had there been more flats, and with that wind, I think Billy and Craig could have worked together and closed the gap as they’re both strong riders and bigger than me with more power.” With nine stage wins in the Cape Epic masters category under his belt, the 48-year-old said the race had been the ideal start to his base training for the 2015 campaign alongside Nico Pfitzenmaier. “The Epic has two or three days of similar riding in the Wellington area, so this terrain is very good for that. “The single-track coming down off the top of Paarl Mountain was a revelation – it was actually world class.” For more information, follow @PaarlMTBClassic or find the race on Facebook.
  12. A mountain biker at play on the Rhebokskloof Wines Estate, which forms part of ASG’s inaugural Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic route. // Photo: Louis Ferreira Wynand de Villiers of ASG Events said special arrangements had been made for those who missed the cut-off to enter on Friday and Saturday for the 30km and 60km racing options. He said it was the first mountain bike race officially hosted by the City of Drakenstein and that participants would therefore enjoy unprecedented access to the usually off-limits trails inside the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve. Riders would also be able to enjoy unsurpassed single-track stretches on the Rhebokskloof Wine Estate and off the back of the Taal Monument, he said. “Aside from the Paarl Reserve concession, the race will be the first mass participation event to ride eight new kilometres of single-track at Rhebokskloof.” De Villiers said another novel twist would be that riders could sample some of the best craft beers and locally produced wines in addition to the standard fare en route. “The route goes right past CBC Brewery, which will be setting up kegs of draught beer at the waterpoint so that thirsty riders can refresh themselves with a cold one.” On the other side of the mountain, he said Rhebokskloof would be offering participants a selection of their award-winning wines. “The Rhodes Food Group, which is synonymous with the Boland, has also come on board and all finishers will enjoy a warm ready-made meal, plus a smoothie and CBC beer at the finish.” Title sponsor Bestmed will man a bike wash station in aid of the Cancer Association of South Africa. A further R10 from every entry fee will be donated to Cansa, with complimentary sunscreen provided in partnership with Incolab. The race village is on the 31-hectare Paarl Arboretum on the eastern bank of the Berg River in the centre of Paarl, with plenty of parking and room for family and friends to spend the day. Late registration and entries are open from 10am to 4pm on Friday at Chris Willemse Cycles in Tyger Valley. Riders will also be able to enter and collect their race packs and number boards between 9am and 1pm on Saturday at the race venue. Late registration is open from 6am on Sunday but riders will not be able to enter on the morning of the race and only pre-entries will be seeded. The 60km starts at 7am and the 30km at 8am. Visit www.asgevents.co.za, e-mail eventsupport@asgworld.co.za or phone 076 621 1807.
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