Team RE:CM riders, Neil MacDonald and Waylon Woolcock finished their debut mountain bike racing season on a high note when they crossed the line together ahead of a large field at the Momentum 94.7 Mountain Bike Challenge in Johannesburg on Sunday.
The teammates crossed the finish line of the 50km race in baking hot, dry conditions with arms raised and broad grins in a time of 02 hours 08 minutes and 39 seconds. Bryce Munro (Mankele Mountain Biking) followed them home in third place. The event is one of the largest mountain bike races in South Africa, attracting over 5000 participants in the four distances.
As is the protocol, the Cycling South Africa officials had to allocate positions to the riders and MacDonald was deemed to be the winner, although he felt otherwise: “We weren’t exactly even crossing the line, but I’m pretty sure Waylon’s wheel was a bit ahead of mine. It’s not a big thing though. Team RE:CM finished first and second and that’s important,” smiled MacDonald, who is still not fully recovered from illness.
“I have just finished a third course of antibiotics for bronchial and sinus infections over the past few weeks. It’s been very unpleasant and I wasn’t planning to race any more this year. But I went for a ride a couple of days ago and felt good and thought I’d come and support Waylon here,” explained MacDonald.
Woolcock and Munro made an early break and on a long climb, Woolcock pulled clear of Munro to lead alone. MacDonald was in the chasing group of seven and decided to try and ride across to Munro and Woolcock on a climb.
“I got away from the group and set off to try and catch up with Waylon. But he’d missed a route marker and had to turn around and rejoin the route. By then I’d actually taken the lead without even knowing it. I saw someone chasing me so pushed harder, before realising it was Waylon. We rode the last 10km together and decided to cross the line at the same time.
“We wanted to make a statement. We started racing mountain bikes this year with the launch of Team RE:CM and there were many who felt we’d not be able to successfully make the conversion from road racing pros to mountain biking pros. We still have room to improve, which is exciting, but we didn’t d badly at all,” smiled MacDonald
Among Team RE:CM’s highlights for 2011 was winning six stages and the overall title at the Old Mutual Fairbairn Capital joBerg2c, second overall and one stage win at Subaru Sani2c, first (Woolcock) and second (MacDonald) places at the Pennypinchers Die Burger Karoo-to-Coast and first (Woolcock) and third (MacDonald) overall in the Nissan Trailseeker Marathon Series.
“We get the attention when we win, but we couldn’t do it without the support of all our sponsors as well as our supporters behind the scenes at Lang Sports, Malcolm Lange, Kandice Buys and our mechanic, Magnus Gouws,” said MacDonald. “We’re looking forward to more success in 2012!”.