Seven Continental MTB Championship gold medals for South Africa

Cross-country specialists Philip Buys and Mariske Strauss and multiple Downhill National Champion Tiaan Odendaal and Kim Westbrook claimed the Elite Men and Women’s Continental Titles in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho last week for the 2016 African Continental Mountain Bike Championships at the Afriski Resort from Tuesday 29 March to Sunday 3 April, where over 100 riders from South Africa competed in the various races. Along with the Under-23 and Junior categories for the XCO races, South Africa scored six gold medals, seven silver medals and six bronze medals.

At an altitude higher than 3000 metres above sea level, the competitors always knew that they would have their work cut out for them. AfriSki Resort is a mountain bike paradise, with a ski-lift for Gravity enthusiasts and well-marked trails heading off in all directions. The Continental Championships awarded Continental Titles to the Elite, under-23 and Junior category Men and Women.

Buys, who had crashed in practice before the third round of the Stihl 2016 SA XCO Cup Series in Wolwespruit a week before the Continental Championships, seemed to have recovered well by taking the Elite Men’s win. “Before Wolwespruit, I could already feel my body was ready to go fast for a win, but unfortunately I had a crash on my injured shoulder from last year. Even though the doctor said that I should not race, we had already made our way to Afriski directly after the race so that we could adapt to the high altitude.”

The long open climb at the start of the track is not one that would usually suit Buys, who favours the short and punchy climbs, so he had to change his race tactic. “I decided to back off a bit in the first few laps and then reel the guys in as the race progressed. After the second lap I was lying second, a few seconds behind James, and on the second last lap I managed to get over to him and attacked.”

Buys then opened up a 30-second lead and held it until the end. “I’m super happy to take the win after my consistent third places at all the previous XCO races,” he said.

Fellow South Africans James Reid and Arno du Toit claimed the silver and bronze medals respectively.

Strauss also spent a week at Afriski to get used to the high altitude. “The Continental Champs was fantastic and I felt like my old self again. It is great to be back racing and well done to everybody killing it out there at 3000 metres! Thanks too to Afriski and my sponsors and all for making it possible.” Strauss finished almost three minutes ahead of her teammate and compatriot, Cherie Redecker, with Namibian Michelle Vorster finishing third.

Odendaal was elated to claim the Elite Men’s Downhill title. “I didn't plan to do the Enduro, it was a last minute decision and I decided to enter and didn't push too hard because my main focus was the Downhill on Sunday. I am really happy to have won the Downhill title as well, I’ve wanted it for a while now and finally all the hard work has paid off. I had a good time at Afriski, thanks to the crew for building the sweetest trails out there, and for their awesome hospitality.”

Odendaal beat current National Champion Stefan Garlicki by less than one second, with Johann Potgieter finishing third.

In the Elite Women’s Downhill race, Westbrook – racing in the Elite category – was the quickest of all the women down the mountain and claimed the gold medal.

South African Alan Hatherly posted consistently quick laps to finish as the victor in the under-23 Men’s race, beating second-placed Marc Fourie (RSA silver) by almost three-and-a-half minutes, with Julian Jessop (RSA bronze) third. The under-23 Women’s race saw Genevieve van Coller put in over three minutes to her closest rival, Frankie du Toit over the five-lap race, with Bianca Haw rounding out the podium.

Namibian Herbert Peters claimed the victory in the four-lap Junior Men’s race over South African Henry Liebenberg with Wessel Botha finishing third, while South African Danielle Strydom crossed the line first ahead of Christie-Leigh Hearder to claim the Junior Women’s title and Allison Morton finished third.

In addition to the official African Continental MTB Championship categories, Afriski Resort also held events as “unofficial continental championships” to cater for a range of riders and age groups. These included Youth and Masters XCO and Downhill, as well as a marathon race and an Enduro race. The South African contingent faired well in these events as well.

Cycling South Africa’s Mountain Bike Commission Director, Brett Coates, said: “Our riders really gave it their best at this year’s Continental Champs. The high altitude certainly makes racing particularly difficult but it’s the same for everyone and our guys showed their class at the event. Being an Olympic year, these Championships were especially important and formed part of our selection process for the Rio Olympic Games and the World Champs in Czech Republic. The results were fantastic and we are all very proud of the team.”

Next on the agenda for our cross-country specialists is the 2016 Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival at Cascades MTB Park on Saturday 30 April for the UCI HC-rated Elite Men and Women’s XCO races with the Junior race also forming part of the UCI Junior World Series. More details of the 2016 PMB MTB Festival can be found here:


                             2016 African Continental Mountain Bike Championships - Lesotho






































Summary of Results – 2016 African Continental MTB Championships

XCO (Full results here:

Men Elite (6 laps)
1.Philip Buys (RSA) 01:32:51
2.James Reid (RSA) 01.33.22
3.Arno Du Toit (RSA) 01.34.45

Women Elite (5 laps)
1.Mariske Strauss (RSA) 01:31:14
2.Cherie Vale (RSA) 01:32:55
3.Michelle Vorster (NAM) 01:34:45

Men U23 (5 laps)
1.Alan Hatherly (RSA) 01:15:09
2.Marc Fourie (RSA) 01:18:29
3.Julian Jessop (RSA) 01:19:32

Women U23 (5 laps)
1.Genevieve Van Coller (RSA) 01:36:14
2.Frances Du Toit (RSA) 01:39:22
3.Bianca Haw (RSA) 01:50:11

Men Junior (4 laps)
1.Herbert Peters (NAM) 01:04:05
2.Henry Liebenberg (RSA) 01:04:32
3.Wessel Botha (RSA) 01:05:07

Women Junior (3 laps)
1.Danielle Strydom (RSA) 01:02:10
2.Christie-Leigh Hearder (RSA) 01:03:43
3.Allison Morton (RSA) 01:04:19

DOWNHILL (Full results here:

Elite Men (EM)
1.Tiaan Odendaal (RSA) 02:24.880
2.Stefan Garlicki (RSA) 02:25.733
3.Johann Potgieter (RSA) 02:28.357

Elite Women (EW)
1.Kim Westbrook (RSA) 03:30.781

Youth Men (YM)
1.Shaun Smale (RSA) 02:48.105
2.Jason Du Toit (RSA) 02:50.142
3.Jason Williams (RSA) 02:53.581

Sub Vet Men (SV)
1.Darryn Stow (RSA) 02:49.865
2.David Drummond (RSA) 03:10.335
3.Cyril Spence (RSA) 03:18.987

1.Jean-Pierre Du Plessis (RSA) 02:40.477
2.Everd Vermeulen (RSA) 03:04.598
3.Salomon Pienaar (RSA) 03:39.622

Vets Men (VM)
1.Grant Dekker (RSA) 03:19.189
2.Thane Archer (RSA) 03:19.641
3.Jan Van Schalkwyk (RSA) 03:30.657

Sub Junior Boys (JB)
1.Maximillian Wolfson (RSA) 03:39.742
2.Kyle Brand (RSA) 03:50.771

Sub Junior Girls (JG)
1.Sabine Thies (RSA) 03:41.434
2.Charlotte Wolfson (RSA) 04:59.946

1.Tamryn Taylor (RSA) 03:56.639

Sprog Boys (SB)
1.Zachariah Wolfson (RSA) 04:21.838

Nipper Boys (NB)
1.Caleb Archer (RSA) 06:26.607
2.Benjamin Wolfson (RSA) 07:20.739

MARATHON (Full results here:

Elite Men
1.Yannick Lincoln (MRI) 03:07:04
2.Costa Seibab (NAM) 03:12:17
3.Phetetso Monese (LES) 03:18:10

1.Amy McDougall (RSA) 03:44:03
2Ila Gray (RSA) 04:28:03

Veteran and Masters Men
1.Grant Usher (RSA) 03:18:25
2.William Kelly (SWZ) 04:26:55

ENDURO (Full results here:

Men (3 stages)
1.Tiaan Odendaal     00.10.56
2.Heiko Redeker       00.11.39
3.Sharjah Jonsson   00.11.41

Women (3 stages)
1.Carmen Bassingthwaighte (NAM) 00:13:55
2.Sabine Thies (RSA) 00:14:00
3.Kim Westbrook (RSA) 00:14:26

YOUTH AND MASTERS (Full results here:

Sprog Boys (4 laps)
1.Kevin Lowe 00:32:38
2.Ralf Klein 00:40:45

Sprog Girls (3 laps)
1.Fiona Vorster 00:32:48

Nipper Boys (3 laps)
1.Roger Suren 00:28:18
2.Stephan Grove 00:28:40
3.Andre Van Rooyen 00:30:51

Nipper Girls (2 laps)
1.Talaya Vorster 00:24:41
2.Delsia Janse Van Vuuren 00:25:44
3.Adrielle Baumgarten 00:30:44

Sub Junior Boys (3 laps)
1.Justin Vosloo 01:13:08
2.Bergran Jensen 01:15:19
3.Erik Van Rooyen 01:31:21

Sub Junior Girls (2 laps)
1.Sabine Thies 00:45:33
2.Simone Grove 00:45:56
3.Sarah Van Der Walt 00:52:48

Youth Men (4 laps)
1.Ryan Conradie 01:08:31
2.Daniel Van Der Walt 01:10:58
3.Pierre Du Plooy 01:11:58

Youth Women (3 laps)
1.Cindy Rowland 01:35:16

Sub Veteran Men (4 laps)
1.Michael Maine 01:13:43
2.Joseph Bauckham 01:17:31
3.Darryn Stow 01:30:20

Veteran Men (3 laps)
1.Grant Usher 00:51:33

Masters Men (3 laps)
1.Dirk Maarsingh 00:56:11
2.William Kelly 01:12:01