Kargo Pro MTB Team’s Alan Hatherly and Frankie du Toit were on top form claiming the overall men and women’s races at the opening round of the well-supported 2016 KZNMTB Provincial XCO Series in the forests of Hilton at Hilton Christian Fellowship today. Hatherly (Under-23) was in a four-way tussle with his teammate Brendon Davids (Elite), Stuart Marais (Elite) and Travis Walker (Elite) early in the Men’s race, where the U-23 and Elite classes completed the same number of laps. While jostling for positions during their thrilling six-lap race, Davids suffered a mechanical and Walker crashed into a tree in the tight singletrack while Hatherly chiselled away at extending his lead.
Hatherly says: ‘I had a really big week this week. The race started off quite hard and I took the first two laps pretty easy just to suss out the field and see where my legs were before I opened up. I managed to open a gap near the end of the second lap on the last climb up towards the finish. I got a bit of a gap with Brendon Davids and the two of us were working together. Unfortunately, because of his mechanical he had to drop back. From there I went on my own, got into a good rhythm, got all the technical sections dialled in and raced to the finish. I’m really happy to take the win.’ Davids put in a momentous performance to claw his way back from fourth place to second overall, contending with the high race pace despite dropping his chain four times. He claimed the Elite category victory.
Marais finished in third place while Walker claimed fourth overall, finishing second and third in the Elite category respectively. Davids says: ‘I had a pretty good start. Alan managed to get a gap on the second lap and I had a bit of an issue and lost some time. I managed to chase back. Every lap I seemed to have an issue at the same area, but I rode through it and managed to come right. It was good to get a hard session in while chasing through the pack and setting milestones to catch the next guy, and then the next guy.’ The women’s race was a different scenario with Frankie Du Toit stamping her authority from early on.
With no mechanicals or crashes to contend with, her smooth run saw her take the overall women’s victory by more than two minutes from her closest rival, Genevieve Van Coller (Absolute Cycling – U-23) with Hayley Smith (Kargo Pro MTB Team) claiming third place (U-23). Du Toit says: ‘The track was a bit longer than what we’re used to and there was a lot of single track and it was quite flat. So it was fast racing – you had to accelerate out of every corner and there was no chance to rest. But it was good, and the tracks were flowing. It’s nice to see the level of racing going up. Coming into the season I’m feeling strong and it’s always great going into a season like that.’
On the importance of supporting and participating in the Provincial Series, Du Toit says: ‘You can’t have a national series without a provincial series and you have to start somewhere so this plays a large role in developing the riders. For me I use it as training and it’s also a great racing experience. I’m really enjoying the provincial series – KZNMTB are really doing a great job with it!’ Winning the Elite Women’s race was Scottburgh’s Candice Parker-Dennison, who maintained a consistent pace despite not practicing on the course prior to the race. She says: ‘I really enjoyed the race today. It was a bit muddy at the beginning and the roots were quite slippery but I did the drop off and managed the technical sections, which was really cool – it’s a very good start to the season! I just started my new job so it’s very difficult to balance my work and my cycling but I’m going to do the best that I can.’
In the Junior categories, Dean Wortmann (Jowetts Cycles) and Chriestie Leigh Hearder (Absolute Cycling) claimed the men and women’s victories. Wortmann says: ‘I had a very good race and felt really strong out there. The course was tough with some very sharp corners. I did fall once in the pine forest but it was just a bit of a lack of concentration. But otherwise I overcame that and got my rhythm back and it was really good’ Hearder says: ‘I had a really good start in this race and I tried to keep up with the top ladies, but soon found that I lost the strength in my legs. I just pushed hard and worked to get a good time for myself. I absolutely loved the forest, even though it was very tight. I was worried about the trees but it was so much fun. I had practiced the day before on the A-lines, but got to the jump and panicked and then took the B-line.’ Teammates Cian Leveridge and Tiffany Keep (Team PAW) both claimed the men and women’s Youth categories.
Leveridge says: ‘It was a hard race, and the course was nice. It’s really nice coming back home to race on these types of courses where it’s nice and twisty, after being in Australia for eight weeks. The race itself was quite tough, as I didn’t know where anybody was, so it just kept on pushing me to go faster.’ Keep says: ‘There was no chance to rest on the course today. It was very tight and very hard, but it made for a fun day out. The trail flowed smoothly through the trees, and I had fun, which is all that matters.’ Round two of the 2016 KZNMTB Provincial XCO Series takes place on Saturday 5 March in Waterfall (near Kloof). For any further details, please visit www.kznmtb.co.za. For more information, contact Rebecca Van Der Linde firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summary of Results – KZNMTB Provincial XCO Series #1 – 6 February 2016
Full results will be available soon at www.elitetiming.co.za
1.Frankie du Toit
2.Genevieve van Coller
Sub Junior Boys
3.Campbell van Rooyen
Sub Junior Girls
Sub Veteran Men
Sub Veteran Women
1.Carla van Huyssteen
3.Jako van Heerden
1.Marie du Toit
Men Grand Master
Women Grand Master
1.Liam Richard Theunissen
2.Nicholas de Bruin
Photo credit: Gavin Ryan/Quick Pix