Marais, Smith climb to victory in the Berg

Champagne Valley – It was the testing hills that decided both the men’s and women’s mountain bike titles at the Central Berg Trail Run and MTB Challenge powered by Momentum, but the two races could not have been more different.

Stuart Marais (Team {type}DEV NanoTime) and Haley Smith (Bell) both returned to winning ways by claiming the men’s and women’s titles respectively at Sunday’s MTB race at Champagne Sports Resort.

Marais made a break on the first proper climb of the race to relegate Illovo Eston winner Tyronne White (DriveTrain Academy) into second position, with Michael Foster (Tipping Point Coaching) and Brendan van Eeden (VNQSH) third and fourth respectively.

White, who recently won a tense sprint to claim victory at Eston after a race-long battle between the same four riders, went out hard on Sunday but admitted afterwards he was “over-confident” and could not maintain the pace. Marais was then able to power away up the first major climb of the route, with only Van Eeden able to hold the pace on the ascent. However, the youngster made an error which then allowed Marais to ease away and build a lead.

Van Eeden slipped back to fourth while Foster fell at a river crossing which ended his hopes of a top-two finish, allowing White to slip ahead and claim a comfortable second-place.

The women’s race was a tight cut and thrust affair with Smith and Rouxda Grobler (DriveTrain Academy) battling for superiority for almost the full 40km route. While Marais had stamped his authority on the first big climb, it was only at the final drag up to the finish that decided the women’s race.

Hayley Smith (right) Rouxda Grobler congratulate each other after a hard-fought 40km MTB race which was won by Smith at the Central Berg Trail Running and MTB Challenge powered by Momentum at Champagne Sports Resort at the weekend. Photo: Tim Whitfield (ROAG)

Grobler, who has dominated women’s racing in KZN this season, was unable to match Smith on the final test of the race and had to watch as Hayley eased to a one-minute victory when they returned to the finish at Champagne Sports Resort.

Young 15-year-old Riley Smith (H2 Sport) was able to keep sub veteran Sanchia Malan (Index) at bay to claim the final spot on the podium and cement her status as arguably the most exciting prospect in KZN women’s MTB at the moment.

The event is the fifth leg of the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum and it seems likely after the weekend’s results that Marais and Grobler have put themselves in virtually unassailable positions on the log, and they should be collecting the two biggest cheques for a MTB series in South Africa.

In Saturday’s trail running, Sarah Gray claimed her third victory of the season and has in all likelihood also done enough to ensure she will successfully defend her series title. The women’s 15km proved to be an easy win for Gray and she finished with a massive nine-minute lead over Claudia Slattery, while Alison Wasserfall filled the podium spots.

The men’s 15km was won by Bongani Makhatini in 1:14:41 with James Knox second and Trevor Downing a distant third. The 20km trail run ended in victory for Dumisano Hlongwane with Phelelani Chonco and Thamsanqa Buthelezi taking the minor placings. The women’s 20km saw Chantel Pennicott notch up a massive victory as Tasha Oosthuizen and Colleen Nicholas claimed second and third respectively.

The normally fiercely competitive 7,5km trail run saw 13-year-old Charli Mlotshwa (Team ROAG Racing) romp home to an astounding 12-minute win. The talented Howick schoolboy is in scintillating form this year and finished the tough route in just 30 minutes, 56 seconds, with Luke Newlands second and Hendrik de Bruyn third.

The women’s 7,5km was something of a family affair as Alyssa Liebenberg powered to victory with her mother Ursula second and Katherine Wolfe third.

Stuart Marais rolls across the line to claim the 40km MTB title at the Central Berg Trail Running and MTB Challenge powered by Momentum at Champagne Sports Resort at the weekend. Photo: Tim Whitfield (ROAG)

Results Summary
40km MTB
Men
1 Stuart Marais 1:27:10
2 Tyronne White 1:29:36
3 Michael Foster 1:32:12
4 Brendan Van Eeden 1:32:41
5 Daniel Van Der Watt 1:33:44

Women
1 Hayley Smith 1:48:54
2 Rouxda Grobler 1:49:56
3 Riley Smith 2:02:40
4 Sanchia Malan 2:03:11
5 Claudia Slattery 2:09:21

40km MTB
Men
1 Joshua Paul 0:56:41
2 Mitchell Bryan Boik 1:01:46
3 Cade Smith 1:02:10
4 Elliott Metcalf 1:08:31
5 Troy Cole 1:09:52

Women
1 Errin Mackridge 1:01:51
2 Madison Bateson 1:03:01
3 Jodi Mackinnon 1:08:13
4 Chloe Allison 1:20:24
5 Sophie Bircher 1:24:36

20km Trail Run
Men
1 Dumisani Hlongwane 1:42:32
2 Phelelani Chonco 1:48:35
3 Thamsanqa Buthelezi 1:48:39

Women
1 Chantel Pennicott 1:44:48
2 Tasha Oosthuizen 2:28:13
3 Colleen Nicholas 2:30:25

20km Trail Run
Men
1 Bongani Makhathini 1:14:41
2 James Knox 1:16:11
3 Trevor Downing 1:23:10

Women
1 Sarah Gray 1:16:52
2 Claudia Slattery 1:25:56
3 Alison Wasserfall 1:27:57

20km Trail Run
Men
1 Charli Mlotshwa 0:30:56
2 Luke Newlands 0:46:05
3 Hendrik De Bruyn 0:46:41

Women
1 Alyssa Liebenberg 0:43:00
2 Ursula Liebenberg 0:45:01
3 Katherine Wolfe 0:45:23

Marais, Smith climb to victory in the Berg

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