Team Jeep South Africa kicked off the 2013 season with a strong showing in last weekend’s racing at The Cycle Fest, held from 11-13 January. In a weekend full of racing, emulating the famous Sea Otter Classic in the United States, the Team Jeep athletes showed their diversity with excellent results in the various mountain bike events that took place over the three days of the festival at Cascades Mountain Bike Park, Pietermaritzburg.
The premiere event in the festival was the UCI Category 1 XCO race, now known as the Burry Stander Memorial XCO. Amidst the challenging weather conditions and resultant mud due to thirty-six hours of consistent rain, Team Jeep’s Brendon Davids and Travis Walker showed gutsy determination to finish fourth and fifth respectively. In the mud, many of the riders struggled with the treacherous conditions, with Davids and Walker showing their class as they worked their way through the field over the shortened four laps of racing.
In the XC Eliminator, a relatively new event on the international stage, the racing was short and fierce in the muddy conditions. In the final Team Jeep’s Jessica Alcock took the ladies race in dramatic fashion, despite a late charge from the fellow finalists. Meanwhile in the men’s event, Team Jeep’s latest young signing Dylan Rebello showed his class against a top field eventually finishing fourth after leading early on in the final, which was won by Downhill World Champion, Greg Minnaar.
One of the highlights of the weekend was the Young Guns Stage Race, for riders from Sprog (Under 12) to Junior age group level. Over the three days, the riders had to compete in cross-country, gravity enduro and relay events for the overall honours for the weekend. After three days of racing in challenging conditions, Team Jeep’s Julian Jessop and Dylan Rebello took the men’s junior title, whilst fellow Jeep rider Mariette Kemp teamed up with Lynette Benson taking the junior women’s title. In the mixed category,
Beani Thies and Travis Stedman earned a well-deserved second place, despite being younger than many of the riders in their category.
Team Jeep had a strong showing in the other events over the weekend, with Ambassador athlete Craig Paul, a former champion cross-country rider, taking fifth in the Gravity Enduro behind some of the top local and international downhill riders such as eventual winner Greg Minnaar. Team Jeep dominated the Hill Climb event, which challenged the rider’s technical climbing ability on short and progressively more difficult climb. In the men’s Hill Climb, All African and SA Junior Cross-Country Champion Patrick Belton took the honours, with Team Jeep team mate Julian Jessop finishing second, whilst youngster Courtney Smith took second in the women’s race. In the Pump Track, local rider Gregg Brown claimed a well-deserved second place in a tightly contested final.