Arno du Toit and Samantha Sanders claimed their first wins of the 2017 Nissan TrailSeeker Mountain Bike Series at Bufflelsdrift, north of Pretoria at the weekend. Almost 2500 mountain bikers participated in the event, which offered four events of varying distance on stimulating bushveld trails.
In the 67km marathon event, competition for the men’s podium was fierce. With Round 1 winner and series leader, Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) away at the national championships, the opportunity was presented for some of the younger men to make their mark.
Wasting no time, Barend Burger, Declan Sidey, Wessel Botha and Du Toit (LCB Racing) set a rapid pace from early on, gradually stretching out the field on the fast, relatively flat first half. Once the first significant climb was reached, Sidey increased the pressure and only Du Toit was able to stay with him. The latter then attacked near the summit, getting a small gap before the descent.
Du Toit’s superior skills on the subsequent descent and following singletrack saw him take control and extend his lead, eventually crossing the finish line first in 02 hours 26 minutes 40 seconds. Sidey slipped back to third behind Botha, but managed to claw his way back to second place in the latter stages, finishing in 2:29:04. Botha rounded out the podium in 2:29:36.
“The first 30 kays were quite flat and fast as I expected. There was no getting away there. I tried a few times but nothing really stuck. About 30 kays in where the climbing and some technical singletrack started I managed to get away. Declan wound it up on a long climb and towards the top of the climb I punched over and got my gap on the next downhill,” said Du Toit.
“I tried to put Arno under pressure before we hit the short steep climbs, which suit him, but no luck whatsoever. When he did go, I wasn’t able to go with him. I did struggle a bit in the singletrack, being so tall and coming from the road. But I’m enjoying the mountain biking for sure,” said Sidey afterwards.
“I really enjoyed the race. I was up in second place for much of the race, but in the last 10 kays I started to suffer from my early efforts and Declan came past me. Buffelsdrift is my local training ground so I love racing here,” said Botha.
In the women’s race, the early pace was more measured and a lead group of eight formed after the opening kilometres. But once the race reached the climbs, Sanders (Valencia) and Bell (Bells Cycling) opened a lead on the rest.
Sanders then rode clear of Bell on the main climb just before halfway, opening up a lead that Bell wasn’t able to close down. Sanders crossed the finish line first in 2:44:25 with Bell claiming the runner-up spot just over two minutes later. 2016 Series champion, Theresa Ralph claimed third place in 2:50:47.
“It was really fun. The trails are awesome – there’s loads of singletrack here. Vanessa was strong on the flats so I knew I needed to get away from her on the climbs, which paid off. Advendurance put on such great events!” smiled Saunders afterwards.
“I just didn’t have the legs to stay with Sam up the climb. I managed to inch a bit closer to her on the flat sections towards the end, but just wasn’t able to catch her. This was my first time racing here. I was quite surprised by the trails, which were very interesting,” said Bell.
“The trails were sublime today and the event was really well organised as usual. With Sam coming to do the TrailSeeker races this year, the competition is higher which is really great for the women’s racing,” said Ralph.
I the 43km half-marathon, junior Erick Heyns was the first male to finish while Tanya Kotze, also a junior, was the fastest female.
2017 Nissan TrailSeeker Series, Gauteng
Round 2, ARC Roodeplaat, Buffelsdrift, North of Pretoria
Overall men 67km marathon
1 Arno du Toit (LCB Racing) 2:26:40
2 Declan Sidey 2:29:04
3 Wessel Botha 229:36
4 Dana Coetzee 2:33:31
5 Phillimon Sebona 2:33:32
6 Henry Uys 2:33:34
7 Ruan van Zyl 2:34:30
8 Heine Engelbrecht 2:36:08
9 Pieter Seyffert 2:36:47
10 Barend Burger 2:37:10
Overall women 67km marathon
1 Samantha Sanders (Valencia) 2:44:25
2 Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling) 2:46:39
3 Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) 2:50:47
4 Sarah Hill 2:52:00
5 Sanet Coetzee 2:54:00
6 Julia Kotze 3:02:44
7 Lizle Rosenstein 3:04:26
8 Maricel Bekker 3:05:23
9 Michelle Benson 3:06:22
10 Chantal du Chenne 3:09:00
Overall male 43km half-marathon
1 Erick Heyns 1:32:24
2 Sean Botha 1:32:26
3 Armand Terblanche 1:32:30
Overall female 43km half-marathon
1 Tanya Kotze 1:51:50
2 Natalie Long 1:52:00
3 Kathy Rees 1:55:15
For full results visit www.saseeding.co.za
Round 3 of the 2017 Nissan Trailseeker Series, Gauteng takes place at Mabalingwe on 15 July. Information and online entries at www.trailseekerseries.co.za