Mariske Strauss (Orange Monkey Pro Team) put in a dominant performance to claim the 2014 South African Cross-country National Championship Elite women’s title in a time of 1 hour 35 minutes and 35 seconds on a challenging and technical course at Thaba Trails in Gauteng today. The Elite women completed 5 laps of the 4.5km dusty and rocky track.
The start to Strauss’ race was less than perfect as she encountered what she called a “rookie error” when her foot clipped out of her cleats on the start line. This resulted in Strauss entering the first singletrack section in last place.
Keeping cool and calm, Strauss picked her way through the riders on her first lap, and from lap two she held the lead until the end of the race, despite her tumble in the rock garden.
“I lost a bit of concentration and took a tumble, but thankfully it was nothing serious,” said the newly crowned Champion. “There was no damage to my bike so I just carried on. Racing in this event was a nice opener for me for the Commonwealth Games.”
Strauss’ preparations have been going well in the build up to the Championship event. “My coach, Jeroen Swart, has been pushing me quite hard, but the data is looking good.”
Apart from this weekend’s National Championships, Strauss will be departing for Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games next week Thursday, while her University schedule starts again on Monday after the mid-year break. “I’ve been trying to keep everything as normal as possible,” said Strauss. “My confidence has picked up a lot, and I will try my best to post a good result for South Africa at the Commonwealth Games. I’m very excited – it hasn’t really sunk in yet. But it will definitely feel real when I start packing my bags next week.”
Cherie Vale (Paarl Media) claimed the silver medal in a time of 01:39:10, while Candice Neethling (Time Freight VELOlife) claimed bronze in 01:40:40. It was great to see mountain biking stalwart Yolande Speedy (Heart-Sports ASG) back in the racing scene, where she claimed fourth place in 01:47:34, with Nicolette Griffioen finishing fifth in 01:29:22.
The under-23 category saw Ashleigh Moffatt (Time Freight VELOlife) claim top honours in a time of 01:24:35, with Hayley Smith (Bell Equipment) claiming a silver medal in a time of 01:27:27.
Bianca Haw (Time Freight VELOlife) claimed the Junior women’s title in commanding fashion, completing 3 laps in 01:04:19. Haw was followed home by Genevieve Van Coller (Heart-Sports ASG) 01:05:49, with Jessica Alcock (GU) claiming the bronze medal in 01:07:04.
The Youth women’s category saw some close racing with Lynette Benson dominating her race, and claiming the gold medal in 01:09:46. Allison Morton finished in second place in 01:11:05, while Saffron Vosloo finished third in 01:12:18.
Cycling South Africa extends a big thanks to the hosts, Wendell Bole and his entire team at Thaba Trails, for preparing the superb and challenging course and for hosting the event. We also thank our sponsor, Stihl, for their continued support in mountain biking, as well as all the event’s supporting sponsors.
Summary of results: 2014 Cycling SA-MTB National Championships, presented by Stihl - 19 July 2014
Elite Women – 5 laps
1 Mariske Strauss 01:35:35
2 Cherie Vale 01:39:10
3 Candice Neethling 01:40:40
4 Yolande Speedy 01:47:34
5 Yolandi du Toit 01:56:14
U23 Women – 4 laps
1 Ashleigh Moffatt 01:24:35
2 Hayley Smith 01:27:27
Junior Women – 3 laps
1 Bianca Haw 01:04:19
2 Genevieve Van Coller 01:05:49
3 Jessica Alcock 01:07:04
4 Alexandra Mapstone 01:08:26
5 Frances Du Toit 01:11:10
Youth Women – 3 laps
1 Lynette Benson 01:09:46
2 Allison Morton 01:11:05
3 Saffron Vosloo 01:12:18
4 Kristen Louw 01:14:17
5 Sabrina Van Wyk 01:33:07
Photo credit: Andrew McFadden/BOOGS Photography