Current National Champion Cherie Redecker (Novus OMX Pro Team) and Stuart Marais were crowned Elite Provincial Champions amidst brilliant conditions at the all-exciting 2016 KZNMTB Provincial XCO Championships, which took place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday 25 June.
Race organisers could not have asked for better weather when the riders and all involved were greeted by a rather crisp morning. But when noon arrived, the gloves, scarves, jackets and beanies were all a thing of the past as the warm KwaZulu-Natal sun brought temperatures up to the mid twenties.
The cold mornings, summer-like days and fresh afternoons in the province in the past few weeks, had resulted in many of the riders suffering nasty colds and flu by the time they reached the start line.
The dry and rainless weeks leading up to the Championships made the course even more challenging, as the track was loose and very dusty.
Elite Women’s Champion, Cherie Redecker, said: “With the dry winter there are sections on the track, which are loose and slippery but that all adds to the challenge. I think Nick (Floros) surprised a lot of us by creating a completely different track. At first I didn't enjoy it, maybe because subconsciously I was doing the technical bits from a different direction. After finding a rhythm on the course today I started liking the new course.”
Redecker lead from the get-go but faced a mechanical on the third lap when her derailleur took a beating through rapid rocks, which set her back. However, the National Champion accepted the setback, and embraced the lesson learned. Redecker mentioned on social media: “It was a great reminder that one needs to sort out a technical as quickly as possible and to keep calm in the situation.”
Defending KZN XCO Champ, Stuart Marais once again claimed the Elite Men’s title by close to six minutes ahead of Kargo Pro MTB Team’s Andrew Warr. In his podium interview, Marais said: “The course has changed a lot since last year so it was an interesting day. But it was great racing; it was fun racing. It was good to see what we can expect in the next two weeks (for SA National Champs) and great to be able to practice the course ahead of SA Champs.”
Concept Cyclery’s Julian Jessop and Kargo Pro MTB Team’s Frankie du Toit won the under-23 races. In his podium interview, Jessop said: “I really enjoyed the track, it was very hard with those two steep hills – in the last lap I was dying.”
When speaking about the track in more detail, Jessop said: “It was really great to be able to ride this track in preparation for SA Champs – the National title is a huge goal of mine. It was awesome to get some practice and to see where it hurts most in the final days leading up to Nationals. It’s such a great track for SA Champs – well done to Nick (Floros).”
Track designer, Nick Floros received excellent feedback about the track from riders on the day, and on social media posts later on.
Under-23 Women’s Winner Frankie du Toit had her entire family out there to support, including mum Marie, who took the Master Women’s win on the day. “I was super proud of my mom for racing because it was quite a technical course and she really pushed herself out of her comfort zone but rode amazingly,” she said.
Du Toit also mentioned how much she had enjoyed the course. “It is completely different to anything we’d ridden recently at cascades, and a change is always welcome. Without rain recently the course was a little sketchy in places so some rain before the SA's would be very welcome.”
Absolute Cycling’s Christie-Leigh Hearder, who took the Junior Women’s title by 11 minutes, said: “SA Champs will be a lot tougher as there will be a lot more people racing, but I feel that as long as I just ride as hard as I can and have fun then anything is possible.”
Jessop number two, Thomas, claimed the Junior Men’s title. “It went really well for me today, I got through most of the slower under-23s and elites in the start and pushed hard with the guys I was with. The hills were brutal combined with the heat so I am very happy to have won,” he said.
In the Youth Men and Women’s categories the KZN Championship Team PAW’s Cian Leveridge and Tiffany Keep claimed titles respectively.
The Vets Men and Women Champions on the day were Ewan Cochran and Natalie Bergstrom.
For these riders, the next big event on the XCO racing calendar is the SA National Championships, which take place at the same venue of Cascades MTB Park on 16 and 17 July.
Summary of Results – KZNMTB Provincial XCO Championships – 25 June 2016
1.Stuart Marais 01:28:46
2.Andrew Warr 01:35:16
3.Ryan Ellis 01:36:20
1.Cherie Redecker 01:32:01
2.Candice Parker-Dennison 01:49:12
3.Nora Richards 01:54:46
1.Julian Jessop 01:28:24
2.Wade Prinsloo 01:34:15
3.Matthew Wilkinson 01:37:18
1.Frances du Toit 01:31:34
2.Hayley Smith 01:32:39
1.Thomas Jessop 01:21:04
2.Dean Wortmann 01:21:38
3.Ryan Naude 01:28:08
1.Christie-Leigh Hearder 01:19:46
2.Saffron Vosloo 01:30:30
3.Sabrina van Wyk 01:39:30
1.Ryan Conradie 01:03:19 (non-KZN rider)
2.Cian Leveridge 01:11:07 (KZN Champ)
3.Luan Fischer 01:12:34 (non-KZN rider)
4.Reece McCallum 01:16:41 (2nd)
5.Devon Baird 01:28:14 (3rd)
Sub Vets Men Overall
1.Brand du Plessis (non-KZN rider)
2.Bradley Rowlett (KZN Champion)
3.Duane Stander (2nd)
4.Frederick Rossouw (3rd)
Sub Vets Women Overall
1.Nadine Nunes 01:04:14
Vets Men Overall
1.Ewan Cochran 01:05:34
2.Warren Price 01:08:05
3.Hendrik Bester 01:08:14
Vets Women Overall
1.Natalie Bergstrom 01:00:14
2.Belinda Mason 01:09:00
1.Marie du Toit 00:55:24
Grand Master Women
Sub Junior Men
1.Travis Stedman 00:52:36
2.Matthew Millward 00:58:58
3.Mitchel Potgieter 01:00:36
Sub Junior Women
1.Sabine Thies 00:40:13
2.Chloe Bateson 00:41:48
1.Connor Wright 00:32:15
2.Luca Zietsman 00:34:26
3.Logan Stander 00:34:26
1.Hannah Eliott 00:26:55
2.Jodi Mackinnon 00:33:57
3.Derryn Millward 00:49:45
1.Nicholas de Bruin 00:41:24
2.Jonathan Watts 00:41:45
3.Liam Theunissen 00:43:58
1.Riley Smith 00:40:25
2.Anvia Bredenkamp 00:41:04