With one of the largest fields of the series so far (over 150 online pre entries) the third round of the 2015 Stihl SA MTB Cup Series took place at Mankele MTB Park in Mpumalanga on Saturday 25 April, and proved once again how unpredictable the cross-country discipline can be. The Men and Women’s Elite categories saw Alan Hatherly taking the victory for the Kargo Pro Team and OMX Pro Team rider Mariske Strauss in the front seat.
Taking the Elite Women’s gold medal was Novus OMX Pro Team Rider, Mariske Strauss, in front of Candice Neethling (Freewheel Cycology/Pam Golding) (2nd) and OMX Pro Team’s Cheri Vale (3rd). Strauss has been climbing in terms of season success since getting back on the bike this year.
“It was a fantastic race, I really enjoyed it. It’s so good to be back and feeling a bit more in control. The recovery is coming along nicely. I seem to have it under control at the moment and I think I will always be busy with rehab part of my life,” she said.
The SA Champ enjoyed herself once again, and hid any notion of pain behind her positive attitude and contagious smile. “It’s been a long road, good to see it’s coming together again.
“It’s an awesome track out there, I really enjoyed it. Nice technical parts – loved that. Luckily I was leading from the gun. I got into groove and tried to keep focused and race for the Men’s time. There were also no crashes, thank goodness. I kept it rubber side down which is always a plus,” she laughed.
Strauss is off to Rwanda in a week’s time for the African MTB Continental Champs, returns back home for two weeks, and then heads off to Europe.
Kargo Pro Team rider Alan Hatherly took the Elite Men’s number one spot, just in front of RECM’s James Reid (second) and Arno du Toit (Scott Factory Racing powered by LCB) third after one of the most nail-biting finishes of the SA MTB Cup Series season thus far.
“It hasn’t even sunk it yet,” he said. “I had a bit of a bad start, slipped a pedal very early so had to try and catch up quite a bit. I caught up to Matthys (Beukes) and Arno in the 3rd lap, and realised that I could pick up my pace, and broke away from them,” he added.
Once Hatherly heard that he was only 45 seconds behind Reid, the time-keepers began to watch the seconds drop off the clock, as the gap after the 5th lap was a mere 15 seconds. “Once I caught sight of James, I just knew I could try and catch up.”
The end of the 6th lap saw Hatherly and Reid ride over the line together, and the final lap was a steady-paced battle until the final sprint where Hatherly made the break. “We were neck-in-neck and he managed to sneak past in the single track, and then the last berm was where I picked it up a bit. There was a bit of lap traffic, which I think advantaged me slightly as James had some lap traffic front of him,” he said.
Hatherly is thrilled with his result and both men put up a great fight. “I have been working really hard with Science 2 Sport and also Prime Gym in Durban. I really am stoked that it’s finally paying off,” he said.
The Junior Women’s race was won by Time Freight rider, Frances du Toit, followed by Genevieve Van Coller (second) and Sabrina Van Wyk third. “For me it was good – I really enjoyed the course. Although it was deceivingly tough - no up-hills meant that there was a lot of pedalling and accelerating out the corners. I had a good start and got into the single track first and managed to keep it that way until the end,” she said.
Du Toit will also be throwing road cycling into her season mix as she prepares to ride in the UCI 1.2 Category KZN Autumn Series. “I’m just mixing it up a little. Then I’ve got to do a block of hard training in preparation for the next SA Cup, SA Champs, and Worlds,” she concluded.
The Junior Men’s title went to Namibian rider Tristan de Lange. Second place went to Juilan Jessop and third to Matthew Lombardi. “Well I was nervous coming up to it, because SA has some really good competitors. Julian and I are always dicing each other at the other events so I’ve always kept an eye on him. The start I had today was one of my better ones. From the start it was Julian and Matt and me and then Matt dropped back. From then on it was Julian and I working together, until he unfortunately got a puncture. After he was up again I picked up my pace quite a bit as well,” said De Lange.
He has been called by numerous people “the one to watch out for” keeping the Elite Men on their toes as well. “I am always trying to close the gap. I guess the more you close it now the less you have to do later on. Those guys really do go at a different pace, but I find myself getting closer and closer,” he said.
De Lange also enjoyed the course, especially because it’s not quite like what he is used to back home. “The course for me was challenging in all aspects, but quite enjoyable. The trails in Namibia are pretty rough compared to what we had today so it was quite a luxury. Thanks to everyone who was involved in making the event happen, and all those supporting as well,” he said.
De Lange will also be competing in the 4th round of the XCO Cup Series in Pietermaritzburg in June.
Summary of Results – 2015 SA National XCO Cup Series #3 (Mankele)
Click here to view the full set of results.
Elite Men (7 laps)
- Alan Hatherly 01:31:22
- James Reid 01:31:22
- Arno du Toit 01:32:17
- Matthys Beukes 01:33:20
- Max Knox 01:34:13
- Heiko Redecker 01:36:20
- Stuart Marais 01:36:59
- Wade Prinsloo 01:38:01
- Stephan Senekal 01:38:56
- Jan Withaar 01:40:17
Elite Women (6 laps)
- Mariske Strauss 01:34:09
- Candice Neethling 01:36:24
- Cherie Vale 01:37:37
- Michelle Vorster 01:46:12
Junior Men (5 laps)
- Tristan De Lange 01:06:26
- Julian Jessop 01:07:29
- Matthew Lombardi 01:07:41
- Marco Joubert 01:09:42
- Manie Lubbe 01:10:38
Junior Women (4 laps)
- Frances Du Toit 01:02:19
- Genevieve Van Coller 01:08:12
- Sabrina Van Wyk 01:10:55
- Christie Hearder 01:10:59
- Saffron Vosloo 01:13:52
Youth Men (4 laps)
- Francois Annandale 00:59:43
- Chris Du Plessis 00:59:50
- Joshua De Freitas 01:00:57
- Sharjah Jonsson 01:01:29
- Ryan Terry 01:01:35
Youth Women (4 laps)
- Tiffany Keep 01:08:05
- Rimari Sutton 01:14:58
- Allison Morton 01:15:09
- Robyn Emslie 01:22:39
For more information and to view the full results of the 2015 Stihl SA MTB Cup Series event, click here: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-sa-mtb-cup-series