Garlicki and Thies secure national DHI titles

Capetonian Stefan Garlicki (Investec) and Martitzburger Sabine Thies (Greg Minnaar Cycles/Pizzology/Foxhead South Africa) descended the mountain slopes of Cascades MTB Park in the quickest overall times in the Men and Women’s categories to claim the National Titles at the STIHL 2016 South African National Mountain bike Downhill Championships in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday 17 July. For Garlicki (26), it was his second consecutive National Title and for Thies (13), her second National Title for the weekend after she won her Cross-country race the day before.

After the first qualifying run in the morning, there was much chatter amongst the competitors about the brand new track, which was designed by Rio Olympic Games XCO track builder Nick Floros. Local riders tipped the track as providing the tough challenges that the international tracks offer, while both Garlicki and second-placed Johann Potgieter (Team Racing Dudes/YT Industries) were both unanimous that it was one of the most technically challenging tracks that they had ever ridden.

Having returned from campaigning in Europe for most of the season for the prestigious event, Garlicki found himself a little off the pace in the qualifying run and further back than he was hoping to be. He qualified fourth fastest and six seconds behind previous multiple National Champion Tiaan Odendaal (JT Designs), who had set the fastest qualifier.

Garlicki said: “Somebody told me that I should just go faster, so I just went faster,” he laughed. “I think I just let the brakes go a little bit more each time so it didn’t feel that much different. The first run I feel I just played it a little bit safe. Although it felt good, it was a controlled run, so I just let go a bit in the second one. I knew that I could go faster but I wasn’t sure that I could go seven seconds faster, so it was a surprise.”

Potgieter, who squeezed into second place by a mere whisker ahead of Jonathan Philogene (Lapierre/2 Bros Racing) by 0.17 seconds, put his result down to experience. “The qualifiers for World Cups are really difficult and the times are so close with everybody going so fast. It’s just about keeping your cool and getting a good run down to the bottom. The World Cup tracks are very different to the tracks in South Africa. This is one of the best races we’ve done in South Africa in a long time. A really good track, thanks to everyone who helped set it up, I’m stoked.”

Philogene said: “I haven’t been getting too much practice because I did a lot of coaching on this track, but that allowed me to get to know the track quite well. In terms of the bike, I’m pretty happy and really comfortable on the new bike already so that was absolutely no issue out here today, and it worked well.”

When asked about her double victories over the course of the weekend, overall women’s winner Thies said: “It feels good – last year I lost the XCO race so I couldn't get the double win. This year I really wanted it again and yesterday started off on an average note because I was called up last on the start line. I had to fight my way past nine people to get to the front, and once I was in the lead I stayed there until the end. Today was fun for me and I wanted to enjoy myself, and I am very happy to come out with the win.”

Giving her opinion on the track, Thies commented: “I rode the track with Jono (Philogene) on Wednesday and we rode the whole course slowly. This morning, I fell on my first practice run but didn't hurt myself, which was fine. This track is a lot steeper and shorter than the World Cup track and has a lot less pedalling. The steeper sections suit me.”

Elite Women’s winner and second woman overall, Kathryn Fourie, said: “My seeding run went really well with very few mistakes. Unfortunately on my final run I crashed four times, which ended any chance of winning, but I’m happy that I finished within five minutes.”

Speaking about the new downhill track, Fourie said, “This is one of the coolest tracks that I have ridden – it doesn't have massive jumps in it but it was very loose today. We didn't have to contend with six-metre gap jumps but it was very steep. You have to know how to ride these type of conditions too. Essentially this track was very much like a European track – it was very similar to Andorra just shorter. It will definitely lift our level of riding if they can ride on a track like this. I’m impressed with the little guys here today.”

In the Junior Men’s category, Christopher Philogene took the title against Cullen McMaster, while Shaun Smale claimed the Youth Men victory against Keira Duncan by the closest of margins, winning the title by .044 seconds!

The very young riders’ categories were equally hotly contested. Maximillian Wolfson beat Robert Jessop in the Sub Junior Boys race, while Caleb Archer found success against Benjamin Wolfson by 10 seconds in the Nippers’ race. In the Sprogs Boys race, Liam Hall claimed top honours by .618 seconds in a tight race against Keagan Brand.

In the Masters categories, Craig Paul was the victor in the Sub Veteran challenge placing 40 seconds between him and second rider Cyril Spence. Thane Archer stood atop the Veteran Men’s podium when he descended the track in 03:53.911, while Guy Lanfear comfortably won the Masters Men category.

For more information and full results, click here.

ENDS

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – STIHL 2016 South African National MTB Championships DHI

Overall Men
1.Stefan Garlicki (Elite) 02:33.854
2.Johann Potgieter (Elite) 02:35.006
3.Jonathan Philogene (Elite) 02:35.172
4.Tiaan Odendaal (Elite) 02:35.924
5.Timothy Bentley (Elite) 02:37.730
6.Christopher Philogene (Junior) 02:39.461
7.Cullen McMaster (Junior) 02:52.013
8.Struan McMaster (Elite) 02:52.377
9.Gregg Brown (Elite) 02:53.217
10.David Hogan (Elite) 02:56.861

Overall Women
1.Sabine Thies (Sub Junior) 04:06.541
2.Kathryn Fourie (Elite) 04:56.405
3.Gabrielle Lanfear (Sub Junior) 05:20.543
4.Kim Westbrook (Elite) 05:32.758
5.Charlotte Wolfson (Sub Junior) 05:54.321

Elite Men (EM)
1.Stefan Garlicki 02:33.854
2.Johann Potgieter 02:35.006
3.Jonathan Philogene 02:35.172

Elite Women
1.Kathryn Fourie 04:56.405
2.Kim Westbrook 05:32.758

Junior Men (JM)
1.Christopher Philogene 02:39.461
2.Cullen McMaster 02:52.013
3.Coenie Slabbert 03:04.999

Youth Men (YM)
1.Shaun Smale 02:58.931
2.Keira Duncan 02:58.975
3.Jason du Toit 03:09.179

Sub Vets Men (SV)
1.Craig Paul 03:02.901
2.Cyril Spence 03:42.320
3.David Drummond 03:43.939

Vets Men (VM)
1.Thane Archer 03:53.911
2.Grant Engels 04:04.920
3.Alastair Brand 04:21.547

Masters Men (MM)
1.Guy Lanfear 04:50.553
2.Mark Minter 06:58.623

Sub Junior Boys (JB)
1.Maximillian Wolfson 03:37.914
2.Robert Jessop 03:50.946

Sub Junior Girls (JG)
1.Sabine Thies 04:06.541
2.Gabrielle Lanfear 05:20.543
3.Charlotte Wolfson 05:54.321

Nippers Boys (NB)
1.Caleb Archer 09:10.609
2.Benjamin Wolfson 09:20.239

Sprogs Boys (SB)
1.Liam Hall 04:13.00

2.Keagan Brand 04:13.618
3.Storm Lanfear 04:17.108