International flair as Gaze and Süss win National Cup

New Zealand’s Samuel Gaze (S-Racing XCO) and Switzerland’s Esther Süss (Wheeler) placed their racing prowess in the spotlight when they won the Pro-Elite Men and Women’s races respectively by a large margin at Helderberg Farms in Somerset West today for the second round of the Stihl 2016 SA XCO Cup Series.

Riders from across the world took part, representing countries such as New Zealand, Netherlands, USA, Denmark, Namibia, Switzerland and Germany with a strong field of Elite riders. Not to be outdone, the Junior, Youth, Sprogs and Nippers classes were equally well supported as they took to the 4.90 kilometre course with an elevation gain of just over two hundred metres.

Gaze, the 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, had a good start and led the seven-lap race from the get go, finishing in a time of 01:30:18, with Philip Buys (Scott Factory Racing powered by LCB) and Danish rider Simon Andreassen (S-Racing XCO) jostling for second position. At the end of the fifth lap of the seven-lap race, Alan Hatherly (Kargo Pro MTB Team) launched an attack, which would ultimately see him claim second place 01:32:36), which was a fantastic result considering he worked his way through the field from 10th place in the opening lap.

During the final lap, Buys managed to put some space between himself and Andreassen, finishing in third place (01:33:31) with Andreassen fourth (01:33:51) and Team Spur’s James Reid (01:34:08) chasing hard and settling for fifth place.

“The race went great for me, I felt in control from start to finish,” said Gaze. “It’s a great stepping stone for me, obviously, being the main preparation for the first of my selection races for the Olympic Games this year. I felt great the whole day and I’m really happy with how things are tracking along. My coach, Christoph Sauser, and me have been working pretty hard to get things right. As for the rest of the race, it was run amazingly and the course was great. The guys put a great effort into the trails and I’ll be back here training again sometime soon.”

In the Elite Women’s race, 41-year-old Süss – a former Mountain Bike Marathon World Champion and multiple winner of the Absa Cape Epic – claimed the victory in 01:32:35 after a solid performance over six laps when she passed South African National Champion, Cherie Vale (Novus OMX Pro Team) on the first lap. Vale worked hard to maintain the gap to under one minute in the following few laps, finishing overall under two minutes off the winning pace.

For Vale, who fell ill just prior to the opening round of the Series at Mankele, she looked back to her usual self and had a strong start with equally strong competition, finishing in 01:34:26. Kargo Pro MTB team riders Frankie du Toit and Hayley Smith, both unfortunately took a tumble in the opening lap, which set them back and saw them working through the field as the race progressed. Genevieve van Coller put on an excellent performance to finish in third place (01:39:47), holding off a rampant Du Toit.

“I’m super chuffed with my result today,” said Vale. “I was looking forward to the race at Helderberg because it is pretty much my home ground, well for now, because I’m moving to Pietermaritzburg tomorrow. I’m still on a high from getting married last week and then having such amazing support this week. John Wakefield helped immensely with my preparations, taking us out on the track on Tuesday and doing some hot laps. I’ve really been able to just focus on racing this week and my heart was set on doing well. I was focussed on the start and Esther was strong. I wanted to see how long I could stay. It’s great to see so many more women racing and I’m especially happy for Genevieve’s 3rd place today.”

Don’t miss the third round of the Stihl 2016 SA XCO Cup Series, to be hosted by the Tshwane Metropole and taking place at Wolwespruit Mountain Bike and Trail Park in Erasmuskloof, Pretoria, on 27 March. More details of the Stihl 2016 National Cup Series can be found here:

Summary of Results – Stihl 2016 SA XCO Cup Series #2 [Helderberg Farms]

Full results are available here.

Pro-Elite Men (7 laps)
1.Samuel Gaze (NZL) 01:30:18
2.Alan Hatherly (RSA) 01:32:36
3.Philip Buys (RSA) 01:33:31
4.Simon Andreassen (DEN) 01:33:51
5.James Reid (RSA) 01:34:08
6.Michiel Van Der Heijden (NED) 01:34:28
7.Gert Heyns (RSA) 01:35:57
8.Martin Gujan (SUI) 01:37:20
9.Arno Du Toit (RSA) 01:38:35
10.Stuart Marais (RSA) 01:38:44

Pro-Elite Women (6 laps)
1.Esther Süss (SUI) 01:32:35
2.Cherie Vale 01:34:26
3.Genevieve Van Coller 01:39:47
4.Frances Du Toit 01:40:29
5.Hayley Smith 01:44:26
6.Candice Neethling 01:45:35
7.Mandy De Beer 01:51:13
8.Hanli Cilliers 01:53:56

Junior Men (5 laps)
1.Jarrod Van Den Heever 01:08:49
2.Matthew Keyser 01:09:19
3.Andrew Sparks 01:10:16

Junior Women (4 laps)
1.Danielle Strydom 01:02:49
2.Christie Hearder 01:05:15
3.Kristen Louw 01:06:32

Youth Men (5 laps)
1.Michard Meets 01:14:06
2.Mulder Oosthuizen 01:14:21
3.Daniel Van Der Walt 01:14:21

Youth Women (4 laps)
1.Tiffany Keep 00:58:31
2.Zandri Strydom 01:06:06
3.Azulde Britz 01:08:20

Sub Junior Boys (4 laps)
1.Luke Moir 00:55:27
2.Matthew Lochner 01:01:30
3.Pierre Le Roux 01:01:41

Sub Junior Girls (3 laps)
1.Chloe Bateson 00:44:13
2.Stèfke Tolmay 00:45:54
3.Julia Marx 00:50:54

Sprog Boys (4 laps)
1.Alec Coleske 00:38:32
2.Jooste Coetzee 00:38:48
3.Hendre De Villiers 00:41:00

Sprog Girls (4 laps)
1.Kayleigh Stevenson 00:47:58
2.Anna Marx 00:48:52
3.Kayleigh Scholtz 00:49:58

Nipper Boys (3 laps)
1.Matt Laughton 00:30:29
2.Matthew Jones 00:31:58
3.Alessandro Fanicchi 00:33:26

Nipper Girls (3 laps)
1.Marili Nel 00:42:50
2.Chloe Chesterton 00:47:55
3.Jesse Munna 00:54:36

Sub Vet Men Overall (5 laps)
1.Darryn Stow 01:13:44
2.Dion Froneman 01:14:15
3.Graeme Dale Kuys 01:17:03

Sub Vet Women Overall (4 laps)
1.Liesl Lourens 01:11:16
2.Leorine De Wet 01:12:07
3.Kylie Hanekom 01:13:28

Vet Men Overall (5 laps)
1.Nico Pfitzenmaier 01:12:22
2.Mark Moir 01:16:20
3.Xavier Scheepers 01:17:59

Vet Women (4 laps)
1.Diana Carolin 01:06:57
2.Michelle Lombardi 01:07:13
3.Tandi Kitching 01:07:43

Master Men Overall (4 laps)
1.Corrie Muller 01:02:41
2.Jimmy Mills 01:03:07
3.Bob Schuiling 01:04:46