Round 4 of the Nissan TrailSeeker Series Gauteng saw fresh faces on the top of the podiums at the weekend with SCOTT Factory Racing LCB’s Phil Buys and Arno du Toit racing to a tied win in the men’s event and Theresa Ralph (RBS) claiming the women’s title. It was the first time they’d won a round of the 2015 Series.
The challenging route at Hakahana, west of Pretoria, combined with heat-wave conditions, proved a formidable test for many of the almost 3000 entrants, but for the experienced mountain bikers, it was a stimulating change from the flatter, less technical events in the series.
In the men’s marathon category, the initial move came from Stuart Marais who has had terrible luck with punctures this season but who was eager to show his form early on. Marais was quickly joined by Du Toit and Buys and together the trio rode clear and were never seen again by the chasing pack.
The numerical advantage belonged to Buys and du Toit but the power and pace of the SCOTT LCB pair eventually shook off Marais and the two crossed the finish together in an impressive show of dominance in a time of 2 hours 21 minutes 26 seconds.
The heat wave in Gauteng persuaded organisers to shorten the course for all four distance events and Du Toit said: “It really suited my riding style with the short and technical course today”.
“The course was typical Gauteng riding and it is always great racing so close to home,” added Buys.
While Buys and Du Toit relished the steep, rocky terrain, the couldn’t be said for Marais:
“The course was one of the hardest I’ve ridden; it really had a lot of rocks. It hasn’t been my best season but it was great not to suffer any technical issues today and pull off a good result,” said Marais.
The women’s race saw pre-race favourite and two-time winner at Hakahana, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) pull out before the event due to a stomach ailment. That left the race for the top step of the podium wide open. An in-form Theresa Ralph (RBS) was the strongest on the day and claimed the victory in a time of 2:53:29.
At the finish Ralph said: “It was great to finish a bit earlier, it meant I had a bit left in the tank. The technical riding forced you to really look where your front wheel is going, it was really a good test for your technical skills. This was my first Hakahana that I have completed and I will be back for sure.”
Nicolette Griffioen finished a very close second with Kimberley le Court rounding out the podium places.
“The general feedback was that there were good, fun trails out there today. We tried to keep the riding time and exertion similar to the other events in our series especially with the predicted heat. We seemed to have made a good decision as the winning time in the marathon was exactly the same as the previous event,” said Fritz Pienaar of Advendurance, the Nissan TrailSeeker Series organisers.
The final round of the 2015 Gauteng Nissan TrailSeeker Series, the Diamond Rush, takes place in Cullinan, northeast of Pretoria on 31 October. To enter or for more information, visit www.trailseeker.co.za
2015 Nissan TrailSeeker Series, Gauteng
Round 4, Hakahana, 3 October 2015
Overall men – 61km marathon:
1 Philip Buys (SCOTT Factory Racing LCB) 2:21:26
1 Arno du Toit (SCOTT Factory Racing LCB) 2:21:26
3 Stuart Marais 2:24:18
4 Henry Uys (Complete Cyclist) 2:25:09
5 Thinus Redlinghuys 2:26:02
6 Armand du Toit 2:27:32
7 Stephan Reyneke 2:31:34
8 William Mokgopo (Kargo Pro) 2:33:21
9 Nick Porteous (Complete Cyclist) 2:35:38
10 Fanie Venter 2:35:41
Overall women – 61km marathon:
1 Theresa Ralph (RBS) 2:53:29
2 Nicolette Griffioen 2:53:30
3 Kimberley le Court 3:07:57
4 Rene Schoeman 3:09:01
5 Leonie Meiring 3:23:18
6 Michelle Benson 3:23:30
7 Rozalia Kubyana 3:35:00
8 Milandi van Zyl 3:39:23
9 Marli van Eeden 3:41:35
10 Jeanine Oosthuizen 3:42:52
Overall male – 31km half-marathon
1 Ruan van Zyl 1:14:15
2 Conrad Barnard 1:14:56
3 Ruan de Villiers 1:14:57
Overall female – 31km half-marathon
1 Bonny Swanepoel 1:21:37
2 Eleanore Beyers 1:31:01
3 Marlette Smit 1:36:09
For full results and Nissan TrailSeeker Series standings, visit www.saseeding.co.za