White returns to the winners’ step at Eston

Tyronne White rolled back the clock and returned to the top step of the podium when he claimed a tense sprint victory over Stuart Marais in the 40km MTB race at the Illovo Eston Trail Challenge on Sunday.

The 37-year-old DriveTrain Academy rider, who spends most of his time coaching other riders, is clearly back at peak form as he outsmarted Stuart Marais to break the recent dominance of the {Type}Dev NanoTime rider.

White”s narrow win is the first time Marais has been beaten since racing returned following the third wave of Covid-19. In recent weeks Marais has emerged as the victor at the Virginia Race the Trails event, the Kamberg Classic and last week at the Karkloof Classic.

Young Riley Smith leads Sanchia Malan through an avenue of trees during the 40km race at the Illovo Eston Trail Challenge. Photo: Anthony Grote

In cool conditions made tricky by heavy rain that forced the race organisers into a last-minute switch to a “wet-weather†route last week, the two thirty-somethings handed out a lesson in tactics and experience as they kept youngsters Michael Foster and Brendan van Eeden off the top two steps of the podium.

It was a double celebration for the DriveTrain team with White”s squad also claiming the women”s title as Rouxda Grobler managed to do what Marais was unable to and notched up her fourth win in the space of two months. The Ballito-based Grobler has dominated the women’s MTB scene in recent weeks and got home less then a minute ahead of Hayley Smith, with young up and coming 16-year-old Riley Smith (H2 Nutrition) filling the final place on the podium.

In the trail running, Nokukhanya Memela followed up her win at Karkloof last weekend with a second victory in two weeks and has opened up the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum. Multiple series champion, Sarah Gray, followed Memela home for the second time in two weekends and suddenly the battle for the overall series title looks like it could get intriguing.

After four events of the series, Gray has one win and three second positions. Memela now has just two first-place finishes, but a couple more victories and Gray could lose the grip on the title she has held for the past few seasons.

Memela finished in 1:23:20 with Gray about three minutes further back, while Erika Korte ended third.

In the men’s trail run, Bongani Hlongwane just edged out Mthokozisi Xulu by a mere seven seconds with Innocent Skhumbuzo Bhengu another seven seconds further back in third.

Leading Results
(Full results here)

Stuart Marais (nearest camera) and Brendan van Eeden lead up one of the climbs in Sunday’s Illovo Eston Trail Challenge 40km event. Photo: Anthony Grote

MTB
40km
Men
1 Tyronne White 01:25:02
2 Stuart Marais 01:25:02
3 Michael Foster 01:25:03
Women
1 Rouxda Grobler 01:44:57
2 Hayley Smith 01:45:34
3 Riley Smith 01:56:08

18km
Men
1 Joshua Paul 00:43:07
2 Seth Aszalos 00:43:36
3 Mitchell Bryan Boik 00:45:43
Women
1 Errin Mackridge 00:45:45
2 Madison Bateson 00:45:45
3 Jodi Mackinnon 00:46:45

Trail Run
18km
Men
1 Bongani Hlongwane 01:03:27
2 Mthokozisi Xulu 01:03:34
3 Innocent Skhumbuzo Bhengu 01:03:41
Women
1 Nokukhanya Memela 01:23:20
2 Sarah Gray 01:26:12
3 Erika Korte 01:33:17

9km
Men
1 Thulani Skhakhane 00:37:55
2 Hlelani Radebe 00:38:36
3 Charli Mlotshwa 00:39:30
Women
1 Christina Stanton 00:51:02
2 Khanya Singh 00:55:47
3 Hana Newlands 00:57:15

The 18km trail runners leave the Eston Farmers’ Club shortly after the start. Photo: Tim Whitfield (ROAG)
The 9km trail runners set off on Sunday. Photo: Tim Whitfield (ROAG)
The mountain bikers set off on their 40km race on Sunday. Photo: Tim Whitfield (ROAG)
White returns to the winners’ step at Eston

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