Persistence paid off for Darren Lill (Cannondale Blend) this weekend when he pulled off the win at the 5th round of the MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan at Rooiberg in the Limpopo Province South Africa. Tipped by many to be a real African bush mountain bike riding experience over delivered with abundant close encounters with wildlife and rapturous trails.
According to Lill the pre race tactics dictated that he would be working for team mate Waylon Woolcock who was better suited to the extreme rocky terrain of the “bushveld”. Lill matched the early attacks blow for blow and managed to stick with early protagonist Max Knox from FedGroup Itec.
Knox and team mate Kevin Evans were determined to deliver a one two result tactically intended to have Knox ride away and stay away. Afterward Evans jokingly said “the plan was to have Max attack and stay away, but he couldn’t shake Darren before he popped”. Evans who said with age his diesel engine only kicks in after 70km made s significant surge to ride up from 6th position into third riding a clever tactical race.
“The idea was to make things hard at the start but I ended up only putting myself under pressure when the hills came towards the end of the race” Knox added. Evans made up a lot of ground but admitted “it was too little too late” and could not catch up to the flailing Knox and flying Lill.
Lill crossed the line in first and was hailed by many for his unyielding persistence proclaiming it a well deserved win. Knox managed to maintain second and Evans rounded the podium in third. Worth a mention was the two wild cards Hanco Kachelhoffer (Altech) and Gawie Combrinck (EAI) who rode aggressively during the first three quarters of the event.
The technical rocky terrain seemed to suit the Swiss marathon specialist Ariane Kleinhans (Team RE:CM) who showed her rivals a clean pair of heals from the onset. “I just loved the route with the slow technical stuff on the rocky sections” Kleinhans commented after crossing the line in first. “I rode alone for most of the race but I was always entertained, there was just so much single track and scenery and overall just one beautiful ride” an elated Kleinhans said.
It was not all smooth sailing for the Swiss star who suffered a technical issue causing the chasing Robyn de Groot (Biogen Toyota) to catch up in the final 20km. In an unfortunate turn of event de Groot took a wring turn crossing the line ahead of Kleinhans but realised she went of course graciously submitted to finishing second behind Kleinhans. Garmin’s Yolandi du Toit finished off the podium in third place.
Ultra Marathon Overall Male
1st Darren Lill 04:28:35
2nd Max Knox 04:33:13
3rd Kevin Evans 04:36:17
4th Lourens Luus 04:40:50
5th Waylon Woolcock 04:40:51
6th Gawie Combrinck 04:41:59
7th Timo Cooper 04:49:37
8th Stephan Reyneke 04:50:39
9th Guylin van denberg 05:01:15
10 Nico Bell 05:01:27
Marathon Overall Female
1st Ariane Kleinhans 03:52:25
2nd Robyn de Groot 03:54:48
3rd Yolandi DuToit 04:00:57
4th Amy Mcdougall 04:08:55
5th Bonny Swanepoel 04:33:59
Marathon Overall Male (U23)
1st Thinus Redelinghuys 03:23:52
2nd Mathew Beers 03:24:50
3rd Lawrence Von Gunten 03:36:03
Half Marathon Junior Male (17-18)
1st Aidan Van Niekerk 01:52:02
2nd Luke Evans 01:52:23
3rd Joshua Nelson 01:52:35
Half Marathon Junior Female (17-18)
1st Mandie Swart 02:29:58
2nd Janice Venter 02:30:11
Source: Advendurance Media