Umfula Store – Following near freezing temperatures at the start at Camps Drift the sun eventually rose on a pristine day in the Valley of a Thousand Hills for the 2014 BSi Steel dusi2c and defending champion Andrew Hill and partner Adriaan Louw edged out his 2013 team mate Tyron Bird and Tim Stark to take the overnight lead into the final day that takes riders from Mfula Store to Blue Lagoon.
It was Team TIB’s Hill and Louw that set the early pace and did not seem to relinquish that speed as they powered their way through the rolling hills and over the uMsundusi and uMngeni Rivers but their lead never ballooned out of control as Quattro riders Bird and Stark kept them in check and have set up an interesting final day of racing.
For Hill it was important that he and Louw managed to get out in front and try and force as big a lead as possible but he explains that that is not always the easiest thing to do when you are confronted by such a substantial amount of trail but he was satisfied with their performance.
“With racing you don’t know what to expect on the trails and anything can happen,” the defending champion said. “With that said I would have definitely taken our lead if you had given it to me before the race started.”
Consistency is the key for Hill and having come through the first day well he feels that if he and Louw can maintain their performance and avoid making mistakes then they will be in a good position to cross the finish line first at Blue Lagoon.
“In stage racing you try and put as much pressure on the other riders and it is all about being as consistent as possible, not taking stupid risks but making sure that you consolidate your position and then ride with that constancy for the rest of the race,” Hill explained.
Having come from the Western Cape for the event, Hill’s partner Adriaan Louw explains that although this is his debut race in the Valley of a Thousand Hills he has been riding in the area for a while and didn’t find the conditions too foreign but believes that they were some of the best he has ridden.
“I have ridden a little bit in the valley in the lead up to the race and I knew the trails were going to be great but it definitely exceeded my expectation. When you ride so many races with so many climbs and great single-track you think ‘this is awesome’ but this is like the dream of mountain biking and it is the peak of what you think a mountain bike race can achieve.
“There are some really amazing trails that look like foot paths that over time have developed into the perfect trails and it is so much fun to ride here! It is such a great event that I am sure it will grow from strength to strength,” Louw beamed.
It was a frantic start, as you can expect, but the field spread fairly quickly and it was up one of the first substantial climbs that Bird and Stark fell away from the leaders but the former still enjoyed his day on the trails.
“I was hoping we could have stayed with Andrew and Adriaan for a little bit longer but as soon as we hit the tar road heading up to Bishopstowe I found myself in a bit of trouble,” he explained.
“Tim was able to go with them but I was hurting a little bit and that was where we lost them and they obviously decided that they didn’t want to wait around and have some fun with us but it was really awesome.”
Following a second place finish on the first day of the event Bird was fairly relaxed in what his expectations were for the final day of racing.
“We were happy with our ride and we will just have to see what happens tomorrow,” a laid back Bird mentioned.
Having climbed over 600 meters on the first day of the dusi2c Tim Stark believes that Sunday is not going to be easy but is looking forward to getting to Inanda Dam in order to exploit the track that runs along the river.
“Tomorrow is going to be a tough day. I don’t think we have as much climbing as we did today so it’s kind of flat from the start.
“There is a lot of flowing single track next to the dam that I am looking forward to and having a bit of memory from last year’s race should help getting us out of trouble if that happens,” he said.
It was a solid day out for the RMB Change a Life/BSi Steel crew with all three of their teams ending in the top 15 with the best placed pair being stalwart John Ntuli and youngster Ndumiso Dontso. Ntuli missed out on the podium in 2013 but is happy to be in the position that he is in at the end of the first day.
“We are really happy because from the beginning myself and Ndumiso we were working hard together and communicating well which I am happy about and finishing third was also great for us,” an elated Ntuli commented.
In what can only be described as a very late entry, former South African women’s marathon champion Yolande Speedy crossed the line in first place in the mixed category with TIB Insurance Brokers partner Eugene Botha.
The race of over 300 teams of two riders winds its way to the Indian Ocean on Sunday for the second day as riders following the uMngeni River to Blue Lagoon.
Durban – Having negotiated some bitterly cold conditions early in the day riders once again had clear skies and dry trails for the second day of the 2014 BSi Steel dusi2c and it was the Team TIB pair of Andrew Hill and Adriaan Louw who inflated their overnight lead by a minute to cross the finish line at Blue Lagoon in Durban ahead of the chasing two teams of Quattro’s Tyron Bird and Tim Stark and Team Safire’s Trevor Rowe and Warren Price.
Following an interesting duel with Bird and Stark for a lot of the race the leaders made a break that the chasing teams could not match and it was enough to give them the second stage win and the overall crown but Hill explained his apprehension heading into the final stage and mentioned that he knew he and Louw were going to have work hard before they could relax.
“We had a nice little lead going into the final stage but anything can happen in mountain biking,” a relieved Hill said. “You just have to consolidate and make sure that you put a bit of lead into the guys before you can rest a bit on your laurels.”
The route had been changed slightly with a new, permanent foot bridge being put in and Hill explains that the changes that were made have been good for the race. The race was getting close towards the end but a push from the leading pair meant that they opened up a big enough lead to claim the victory.
“From the gun we knew that we had a bit of a water crossing coming up with the change of route this year and that change was actually really good. Crossing the river early on was nice and then a brand new foot bridge that is helping a lot of the locals in the area was also a nice change.
“This year’s route had some welcome changes with a lot of things that cannot be changed and add to true mountain biking experience that you get at dusi2c.
“Coming towards the end the group came together again but after the Silver Pipes Bridge the group split up again and Adriaan and myself accelerated and managed to put a bit of time into the guys,” a satisfied Team TIB rider added.
Arriving at the 2014 dusi2c as a greenhorn meant that Adriaan Louw had a fresh perspective and it seems that the young Western Cape rider enjoyed his first race in the Valley of a Thousand Hills and he explained that he looks forward to the new concepts that ‘Farmer Glen’ Haw might offer in years to come.
“It really is an amazing event. That is all you can say!
“It is a mountain biking dream and it is the pinnacle of trail riding. The race will only get better over time and I believe that next year they are doing a non-stop dusi2c which will become a marathon spectacle and that should be a fun race to participate in.”
Louw and Hill will join the rest of the South African team for the upcoming UCI MTB Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg and Louw believes that the dusi2c was great preparation for the event.
“The race is part of our preparation for World Champs next weekend and we didn’t want to race for too long so that’s why we decided to sit out the national marathon on Sunday and rather have a shorter day in the saddle and rest up well for the race next weekend,” the Fairview Swift rider mentioned.
The eventual runners-up in this year’s race Tyron Bird and Tim Stark were chasing the race on day two and with a better knowledge of the first day Bird was happy with the way in which they were able to stay with the leading duo for the majority of final stage.
“We were a bit on and off them for the entire race as they would make a gap and then make a mistake and we would catch them mainly because it is a more tricky stage today compared to yesterday.
“I remembered the first stage better than I did the second so it meant that navigation was always going to be a bit of an issue but we managed to keep the leaders in check,” he said.
The Quattro star won the inaugural edition of the dusi2c in 2013 with Hill but he was still satisfied with the runner-up finish.
“We couldn’t be happier to get that second place position for Quattro!”
Tim Stark mentioned that the game plan going into the final day was simple and it was a matter of keeping themselves in their position but if the opportunity arose to put pressure on the leaders they would give it a bash but following a mistake from him that option disappeared.
“Our plan going into today was to keep our overall position; we were quite easy on what was going to happen as long as we maintained our second place.
“We were thinking about making a few attacks on the lead guys but I unfortunately made some stupid mistakes and went up a hill that I shouldn’t have and the helicopter sent me back!
“I spent a bit too much energy chasing back up to the guys and so we couldn’t give it a go,” the Pyga Bikes rider commented.
It was a day for the stronger riders, it seemed, as Team Safire – Trevor Rowe and Warren Price – moved up into the podium positions with a powerful ride that saw them end in a share for the third place with RMB Change a Life/BSi Steel’s powerhouse combination John Ntuli and Ndumiso Dontso.
“Warren and myself are power riders and there was not too much climbing today so there were not a lot of places for the lighter guys to get away. There were a lot of descents and tar roads so we could use our power and Warren today was stronger than I have ever seen him so I was comfortable sucking his back wheel!
“Yesterday we knew we had six minutes to make up, it was a long shot due to the nature of the course today but we knew if we could get into a group and extend the lead then we could move up places and it worked,” Rowe concluded.
The mixed race was won by 2013 African Mountain Bike Cross Country Champion Yolande Speedy and her partner Eugene Botha for TIB Insurance Brokers.
The combination lead the race through both days and won by a handsome margin of 27 minutes over Gavin and Jean Meyer. Having picked up a mechanical during the second stage the pair of Owen Gandar and Tamika Haw lost out their second place to the Meyer duo but managed to hold on to the final podium spot.
More information can be found at www.dusi2c.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Day One 2014 BSi Steel dusi2c
1. Andrew Hill/Adriaan Louw (Team TIB) 02:32.20
2. Tryon Bird/Tim Stark (Quattro) 02:36.38
3. John Ntuli/Ndumiso Dontso (RMB Change a Life/BSi Steel) 02:44.47
4. Grant Usher/Sean Henderson (Team Nutrilite) 02:49.39
5. Bongumusa Zikhali/Sipho Kupiso (RMB Change a Life/BSi Steel) 02:51.08
6. Trevor Rowe/Warren Price (Midlands Cycle Club) 02:51.15
7. Robert Scott/Klaas Meitjies (Fittrack KZN) 02:55.52
8. NO DATA 02:59.47
9. Michael Hay/Andrew Houston (FutureLife) 03:00.54
10. Kevin Leveridge/Tim Keep (Pure Adventure Wear) 03:03.17
1. Eugene Botha/Yolande Speedy (TIB Insurance Brokers) 03:12.41
2. Owen Gandar/Tamika Haw (Simply da Best) 03:23.36
3. Gavin Meyer/Jean Meyer (Margs and Jules) 03:33.36
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – BSi Steel dusi2c STAGE TWO
1. Andrew Hill/Adriaan Louw (Team TIB) 02:18:42 04:51:02
2. Tyron Bird/Tim Stark (Quattro) 02:20:03 04:56:41
*3. Warren Price/Trevor Rowe (Team Safire) 02:20:02 05:11:17
*3. John Ntuli/Ndumiso Dontso (RMB Change a Life/BSi Steel) 02:29:31 05:14:18
5. Grant Usher/Sean Henderson (Team Nutrilite) 02:38:01 05:27:40
6. Robert Scott/Klaas Meitjies (Fittrack KZN) 02:38:20 05:34:12
7. Sthembiso Msango/Mboneni Ngcobo (RMB Change a Life/BSi Steel) 02:29:11 05:42:35
8. Michael Hay/Andrew Houston (FutureLife) 02:35:16 05:36:10
9. Bongumusa Zikhali/Sipho Kupiso (RMB Change a Life/BSi Steel) 02:51:27 05:42:35
10. Kevin Leveridge/Tim Keep (Pure Adventure Wear) 02:42:26 05:45:53
1. Eugene Botha/Yolande Speedy (TIB Insurance Brokers) 02:51:30 06:04:11
2. Gavin Meyer/Jean Meyer (Margs and Jules) 02:57:45 06:31:21
3. Owen Gandar/Tamika Haw (Simply da Best) 03:11:48 06:35:24
1. Camilla Howard-browne/Jeanne Grace (Passion and Pain) 03:34:00 07:42:33
* Both teams were awarded third place overall
Source: Gameplan Media