The sixth leg in the MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan that took place at the van Gaalen Cheese farm in North West Province this weekend lived up to all expectations with Lourens Luus (team RECM) and Yolandi du Toit (Garmin) taking the respective wins.
Quoting Ben-Melt Swanepoel “As the name suggests Van Gaalen Cheese Farm is a working dairy farm where making cheese is a speciality. On Saturday we also found out that, apparently, this is also where rocks are made…” In addition to the unforgiving rocky terrain riders were also challenged by sub-zero temperatures.
The frigid temperatures at the start did nothing to deter the furious pace set by the hard hitters in the MTN Ultra Marathon over the early part of the race. It didn’t take long for a leading group of eight to form after the first rocky climb shook up the field. The group soon settled into a rhythm with all the pre race favourites represented.
The final move came when Darren Lill (Cannondale Blend) fresh off his win at the previous round at MTN Rooiberg just two weeks before escaped together with the two team mates Evans and Max Knox (FedGroup Itec) and Lourens Luus (Team RECM). Evans and Knox did their utmost over the technical rocky terrain to shake the explosive Lill and Luus trying desperately to avoid the inevitable sprint for the line.
Luus made the most of his knowledge of the course and exploded his sprint at the exact moment to force Lill into second after Evans slipped in one of the final corners costing him valuable seconds placing him back in all too familiar third place. According to previous National MTB Series overall winner Evans it was one of the more technical events in the series. Lill commented that is was very up and down for him having to deal with the altitude and the tough terrain but he is happy with his result.
“It was a ding dong battle all the way and I’m really happy with the win after an awesome day out” an elated Luus commented after the race. His result catapulted him into 5th on the overall series ranking still lead by Nico Bell (Team RECM). Ben-Melt Swanepoel (EAI Cycling) jumped into second place after completing his 5th event.
Interestingly Kevin Evans has crept up into 3rd place still in with a shot overall. He explained: “The series however starts to get a little interesting now. You see the best five races of the eight race series count towards the overall points and the eventual winner. So although Bell is leading, he has done all six races so far, thus giving him the lead. The rest of us have only done four races, with two races remaining. As I’ve won the series 6 times, I know better than most how the points work, and if I go on average points after three races, its interesting to see Lourens Luus would have overall lead, followed by myself, Bell and Lill. So in theory the series is hotting up and still wide open, but of course it leaves no margin for error in the remaining two events.”
The drama in the women’s battle for the Series lead is far from over after an unfortunate wrong turn cost Ariane Kleinhans (Team RECM) and Robyn de Groot (Biogen Toyota) the lead in the final kilometers handing the win to Garmin’s Yolandi du Toit. De Groot and Kleinhans had a hard fought lead for most of the way giving each other no quarter in what was set to be a potential Series decider.
Du Toit’s breakthrough result came as a bit of a surprise when she crossed the line unaware the two leaders veered off course handing her the win. It has to be said that du Toit’s grit and will to fight kept her within striking distance of the two early leaders to allow her to pass them before they could rejoin the route after their wrong turn.
At the moment Kleinhans and de Groot are only separated by only a 100 points on the overal MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan Standings. Keinhans can sew up the Series with a single win and de Groot’s only chance is to finish her series with a first and a second at the remaining two events.
This weekend the MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan heads to the KZN midlands for seventh leg with MTN Hilton.
MTN Ultra Marathon Overall Male
1st Lourens Luus 04:48:31
2nd Darren Lill 04:48:32
3rd Kevin Evans 04:49:21
4th Max Knox 04:52:20
5th Nico Bell 04:52:33
6th Adriaan Louw 04:56:40
7th Ben Melt Swanepoel 04:59:43
8th Gawie Combrinck 05:04:21
9th Matthys Beukes 05:08:40
10 Guylin van den Berg 05:13:54
MTN Marathon Overall Female
1st Yolandi DuToit 04:11:07
2nd Ariane Kleinhans 04:13:11
3rd Robyn De Groot 04:13:57
4th Yolande Speedy 04:26:51
5th Mariette Hattingh 04:41:08
MTN Marathon Overall Male
1st Brand Du Plessis 03:27:37
2nd Arno Du Toit 03:29:40
3rd Dylan Rebello 03:38:31
MTN Marathon Male (U23)
1st Arno Du Toit 03:29:40
2nd Dylan Rebello 03:38:31
3rd William Mokgopo 03:41:21
MTN Marathon Female (U23)
1st Nicolette Griffioen 04:55:06
2nd Nicola Giliomee 05:13:50
3rd Hazel Magill 05:56:45
2014 NISSAN NATIONAL MTB SERIES #6 Van Gaalen Results
Half Marathon Overall (Male)
1st Marc Fourie 01:55:17
2nd Joshua Nelson 01:55:00
3rd Charl-Pierre Esterhuyse 01:55:28
Half Marathon Overall (Female)
1st Rene Schoeman 02:29:13
2nd Michelle Benson 02:32:21
3rd Lynette Benson 02:33:38
Half Marathon Junior 17-18 (Male)
1st Marc Fourie 01:55:17
2nd Joshua Nelson 01:55:00
3rd Luke Evans 01:57:46
Half Marathon Junior 17-18 (Female)
1st Michelle Benson 02:32:21
2nd Janice Venter 02:36:46
3rd Mandie Swart 02:39:00