Pietermaritzburg’s Tiaan Odendaal (Green Team) took top honours when he posted the fastest time and claimed the 2014 South African Downhill National Championship Elite men’s title in a time of 1 minute 57.588 seconds at a dry and rocky Thaba Trails in Gauteng on Sunday, 20 July.
For Odendaal, this was his third consecutive Elite Men’s national title, following two consecutive Junior National titles. “I’m really stoked to have claimed this title for the third time,” said Odendaal. “It was quite a difficult course – very dry and dusty – and of course the altitude played its part. There was quite a hard pedal section, which was not as long as the pedal section at Cascades (in Pietermaritzburg), but I couldn’t really get a rhythm.”
Odendaal posted the fastest seeding run, which meant that he was the last rider to start out of the blocks in the final run. He had flown home to South Africa with compatriot Stefan Garlicki (Investec) from their touring schedule in Europe.
“When I heard that Stefan was coming back to race, I was a little worried. He was someone that I was watching closely. Our finishing times were pretty close, but I am happy to take the win,” said Odendaal.
Odendaal finished with a margin of just over a second to second-placed Garlicki, who posted a time of 01:58.597.
Garlicki and Odendaal had been touring Europe where they competed in two World Cups, in Fort William (Scotland) and Leogang (Austria). They also competed in the iXS Cup Series in Europe, having raced in Schladming (Austria), Val di Sole (Italy) and Les 2 Alpes (France). They return to Europe this week to compete in the Meribel UCI World Cup race in France, two more iXS Cups and the UCI World Champs in Norway.
The third place overall went to up-and-coming Junior rider, Andrew Martin, who is currently receiving sponsorship support from Hattons Cycles, International Trade, Isostar ZA and Moveo Safety.
Martin, a Grade 12 pupil at Pietermaritzburg College, claimed the third position overall after a poor start in his seeding run. “I punctured in the rock section at the top of the track in my seeding run,” said Martin. “So I was one of the first riders to set off in the final, and I sat in the hot seat for a very long time.”
Martin’s journey to the SA Champs has been extraordinary, as he has been working hard on his recovery from a clean break in his tibia (lower leg) after a crash in a race about five months ago. “I’ve only been back on the bike for just over a month, but the SA Champs was a big focus, and it was my main goal. I’m stoked to have won the Junior category, and to have finished third overall!”
Despite a slight mishap on the course, Martin’s time of 02:02.912 was enough to secure third place overall, and was almost four seconds clear of second-placed Junior Gregg Brown (Team Jeep).
“The track was pretty fun, I hadn’t raced there for a long time and there were a lot of changes. In my final run, I got my lines right but I had a little slip out on the one berm but managed to carry on.”
Martin hopes to continue his racing next year and to tour Europe to compete in some of the iXS Cup races.
Race organiser, Wendell Bole, was pleased with the feedback that he had received from so many of the riders over the course of the weekend. “It has been a dream for a very long time to host a SA Champs at Thaba Trails,” said Bole. “I am proud to say that the event was a great success, and it was wonderful to receive so many positive responses to the purpose-built trails for the races.”
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 - 20 July 2014
1 Tiaan Odendaal (Elite) 01:57.588
2 Stefan Garlicki (Elite) 01:58.597
3 Andrew Martin (Junior) 02:02.912
4 David Hogan (Elite) 02:03.318
5 Theo Erlangsen (Elite) 02:06.224
6 Gregg Brown (Junior) 02:06.763
7 Kelvin Purchase (Elite) 02:08.004
8 J P Du Plessis (Elite) 02:08.350
9 Jonathan Philogene (Junior) 02:10.511
10 Dustin Rudman (Elite) 02:13.719
11 Christopher Philogene (Youth) 02:15.114
12 Donald Turton (Elite) 02:15.295
13 Frank Meyer (Elite) 02:16.299
14 Everd Vermeulen (Elite) 02:18.529
15 Nicholas Camp (Junior) 02:22.242
16 Theo Ngubane (Elite) 02:27.078
17 Duran Van Eeden (Elite) 02:29.359
18 Christopher Cartwright (Junior) 02:29.859
19 Sean Schlebusch (Veteran) 02:35.797
20 Ryan Heukelman (Junior) 02:36.074
Photo credit: Lee Ann Cantrell/www.csharpphotos.com