Keey, Kleinhans Claim Victory at UCI MTN Sabie Classic28 Feb 2013
Charles Keey (Cannondale/Blend Properties) and Nico Bell (Westvaal/Bell Cycles) provided a thrilling finish to the MTN Sabie Classic marathon, part of the UCI World Marathon Series, on Saturday 23 February.
The 112-kilometre race was decided in the final 100-metres. Keey ensured victory by entering the last corner before the finish line first, causing Bell to brake and to lose valuable seconds and momentum.
Keey claimed his victory in 4 hours 59 minutes with Bell finishing a second behind. Third place went to Max Knox (Specialized) followed by Waylon Woolcock and Lourens Luus (both RE:CM) in fourth and fifth places respectively.
“This is definitely the biggest victory of my career,” said a jubilant Keey afterwards.
Karl Platt and his Team Bulls teammates were not able to compete in the MTN Sabie Classic due to their team launch that was held over the same weekend. Germany’s Steffen Thum, the overall winner of the 2011-2012 UCI MTB Marathon World Series, and his compatriot Simon Gegenheimer, who finished fourth overall in the same series, were as he predicted beforehand not quite at optimal fitness to take on the South Africans.
The women’s marathon was also a humdinger with Ariane Kleinhans (RE:CM) and Candice Neethling (BMC-SA) racing shoulder to shoulder right until the end. But it was Kleinhans with the edge, beating Neethling by a mere 22 seconds. Robyn de Groot (Songo.info), a former Olympian road cyclist, finished in third place. Theresa Ralph finished fourth and Amy McDougall fifth.
Kleinhans’ winning time for the 70-kilometre race was 3 hours 32 minutes and 52 seconds.
Kleinhans was quick to admit that she had to dig deep to win the MTN Sabie Classic again. “Candice’s grit and determination meant that I had a tough fight on my hands right up to the end, but it was actually very exciting.”
According to Kleinhans she really had to keep her wits about her to avoid going down hard on some of the technical sections. “I have experienced quite a few scary moments during the race.”
Neethling was full of praise afterwards for the way in which Kleinhans rode. “Ariane is an awesome athlete. The fact that I was able to stay with her for most of the race is a real confidence booster for me.”