De Groot, Kruger claim top spots at Trailseeker Lionman

Pieter Seyffert leads the charge up the first climb at Nissan TrailSeeker Lionman

Pieter Seyffert leads the charge up the first climb at Nissan TrailSeeker Lionman

HB Kruger and Robyn de Groot claimed the men and women’s marathon titles respectively at the Lionman edition of the Gauteng Nissan TrailSeeker Mountain Bike Series at Mabalingwe at the weekend.

Warm, sunny mid-winter weather greeted the 3200 participants in the event, which offered four different race distances, the 70km marathon, 40km half-marathon, a 20km fun race an a 10km fun ride. The main focus from a racing perspective though was on the marathon, which included almost 1000 metres of vertical ascent over some rugged terrain.

In the men’s event, Pieter Seyffert  (Altech) shot off the start line like a bullet, forcing a rapid pace from the outset. Only three riders were able to stay with him – HB Kruger (Team Abantu), Gawie Combrinck (EAI Cycling) and Brand du Plessis.

The quartet hit the base of the race’s big climb together, but the ascent split them up with Kruger going over the summit in front and claiming the Dunlop Hot Spot title in the process. The road cycling pro then set about tackling the rough descent and maintaining his lead.

A concerted effort by Combrinck, the recently crowned South African marathon champion, saw him close the gap to Kruger on the descent, but he was unable to make contact with his younger rival who managed to extend his lead to grab the victory in a fast time of 2 hours 35 mintues 42 seconds. Combrinck finished second almost four minutes later with Seyffert rounding out the podium places in 2:40:23.

“The first 20 kays the pace was quite hard, which split the race up early. I was able to get to the top of the big climb first and then really just wanted to keep my lead. I was fortunate not to have any mechanical issues and it felt good to win a mountain bike race again,” said Kruger.

“At about 40km I heard a noise in the bush near me an got quite a fright. It was a couple of giraffe and a couple of rhino! That shot my heart rate up a bit and made me ride a bit faster. It was certainly a memorable race for me,” smiled Kruger.

“It was a typical bushveld race – lots of sand, very rocky in places and plenty of thorns. But it was fun and fast,” said Combrinck.

“Pieter (Seyffert) went pretty much flat out from the start. HB got a small gap on me by the top of the climb, about 30 seconds or so and although I got close, I couldn’t quite close him down on the rocky descent. HB was just stronger on the flat, open roads. Considering I’m not in peak form, I’m happy with my second place today,” added Combrinck.

In the women’s race, De Groot took command from early on and was able to avoid any unplanned stoppages to clock a winning time of 3:01:14. Theresa Ralph (RBS) finished second with Adrienne Moolman in third.

“I knew it would be a tough climb to the top , so I started pushing a little bit harder. Once I’d passed the hot spot I looked around and realised I was by myself. I had to just keep pushing on and it really turned into a time trial to the finish from there,” explained De Groot.

Ladies winner Robyn de Groot pushing on alone to the finish

Ladies winner Robyn de Groot pushing on alone to the finish

“The terrain was more rugged than I expected. There was a lot of sand and loose rock. I suppose it was a proper mountain biking challenge,” smiled de Groot.

Round 3 of the Nissan TrailSeeker Gauteng Series, the Hazeldean edition, takes place on 29 August 2015 at Curro College, Hazeldean, Pretoria East To enter, or for more information, visit www.trailseekerseries.co.za

2015 Nissan TrailSeeker Series, Gauteng
Round 2, Lionman, Mabalingwe, 11 July 2015
Leading results

Overall men – 70km marathon:
1 Hendrik Kruger (Team Abantu) 2:35:42
2 Gawie Combrinck (EAI Cycling) 2:39:35
3 Pieter Seyffert 2:40:23
4 Brand du Plessis 2:43:36
5 Guylin van den Berg 2:48:18
6 William Mokgopo (Kargo Pro) 2:48:19
7 Tiaan Swart 2:48:50
8 Pierre Smith 2:49:29
9 Thinus Redlinghuys 2:49:44
10 Barend Burger 2:49:46

Overall women – 70km marathon:
1 Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) 3:01:14
2 Theresa Ralph (RBS) 3:08:29
3 Adrienne Moolman 3:19:52
4 Wilmarie du Plessis 3:24:35
5 Mandy de Beer 3:25:27
6 Mariette Hattingh 3:30:57
7 Michelle Benson 3:30:58
8 Johandri Leicester 3:32:10
9 Catherine Andrew 3:33:04
10 Eleanore Beyers 3:40:12

Overall male – 40km half-marathon
1 Henry Liebenberg 1:22:49
2 Martien Venter 1:22:50
3 Jakobus Wagner 1:25:42

Overall female – 40km half-marathon
1 Danielle Strydone 1:35:30
2 Bonny Swanepoel 1:37:28
3 Nicolene Marais 1:40:22

For full results and Nissan TrailSeeker Series standings, visit www.saseeding.co.za