Philip Buys showed he’s back to his best, while Mariske Strauss continued her top form when they won the Elite men and women’s titles respectively at Round 3 of the SA XCO Cup, presented by Insect Science at Summerplace Game Reserve at the weekend.
Racing in new dark green Pyga EuroSteel kit, Buys showed the form he’s capable of with a dominant performance over a strong field. The Pretoria-based rider took the lead early on Lap 1 and extended it steadily over the remaining six laps to finish in a time of 1:29:13.
The battle for second place was intense as Under-23 African champion, Johan van Zyl (Computer Mania) and Arno du Toit (Insect Science) kept a high pace in their pursuit of Buys. Van Zyl set the pace most of the time with the more experienced Du Toit maintaining contact until the penultimate lap when he made a strong move.
But a puncture for Du Toit saw Van Zyl reclaim second place and finish in 1:31:27. Once he’d repaired his mechanical, Du Toit put in a dogged effort to hold onto his third place ahead of his Insect Science teammate, Keagan Bontekoning, who rode a very consistent race to move into fourth place in 1:32:46. It was the best finish at a SA Cup race for Van Zyl and confirms he’s in good form ahead of his upcoming World Cup campaign in Europe.
After a snappy first lap, Australian Under-23 champion, Cameron Wright (Giant Factory Offroad Team), found the pace up front too high and took a more measured effort for the remainder of the race, dropping down to a solid fifth place by the finish in a time of 1:34:19.
“It feels good to win a SA Cup race again. I can’t remember when I last won,” smiled Buys. “I went a bit too hard on the first three laps and found myself making small mistakes and riding into rocks. I decided to ease off slightly and that allowed me to keep it smooth and steady for the rest.”
In the Elite women’s race, the anticipated duel between African champion, Mariske Strauss (Rola/Liv) and South African champion, Candice Lill (Faces/Rola), lasted only a lap. Lill suffered a rear-wheel puncture about 1.5km from the Tech Zone on Lap 2 and had to run her bike in. She then set about reeling off a series of strong laps and was able to secure second place.
But a confident Strauss charged through the technical course with composure, securing the victory by a comfortable margin. Lill was followed home in third place by Karla Stumpf.
“That’s a tough course! I increased my tyre pressure a bit because of the rocky terrain. I also realised that I couldn’t go too hard on the climbs because you really need to concentrate on the technical descents. And I wanted to have a safe, consistent race.,” said Strauss.
“That was proper! This course takes the racing up a level. I was disappointed to puncture, but I enjoyed the chase and focussed on putting in a strong effort to prepare for upcoming races in Europe,” said a spent Lill shortly after the finish.
The other UCI categories – Junior Men and Women also produced thrilling contests. Tyler Jacobs showed why she is the African Champion with a dominant performance in the Junior Women’s four-lap race, despite a delay on the final lap to repair a front wheel puncture. Jacobs finished in 1:04:50, just over five minutes clear of runner-up Lilian Baber, who was clearly confident racing on her home track. Madison Mann rounded out the top three in 1:18:40.
The Junior Men’s race saw Massi Ambrosi and Ernest Roets in a race-long battle for supremacy. They took turns leading and matched each other throughout, steadily building a buffer on the rest of the field. On the final lap though, it was Roets who managed to break clear and charge to victory in 1:08:12. Ambrosi finished just 11 seconds later to secure the silver medal with Justin Swanepoel, who delivered consistent lap times, claiming the bronze medal in 1:09:53.
It was the second year that Summerplace Game Reserve hosted a round of the XCO SA Cup. Riders were full of praise for the course, which offered a very balanced route that challenged strength, skill and stamina, while teams and spectators enjoyed the bushveld location just under three hours’ drive from Pretoria.
XCO South African Cup, Round 3, presented by Insect Science
30 April 2022 at Summerplace Game Reserve, Limpopo
1 Philip Buys 1:29:13
2 Johan Van Zyl 1:31:27
3 Arno Du Toit 1:32:18
1 Mariske Strauss 1:33:23
2 Candice Lill 1:37:28
3 Karla Stumpf 1:52:10
1 Ernest Roets 1:08:12
2 Massimiliano Ambrosi 1:08:21
3 Justin Swanepoel 1:09:53
1 Tyler Jacobs 1:04:50
2 Lilian Baber 1:10:14
3 Madison Mann 1:18:40
1 Josh Johnson 43:08
2 Seth Aszalos 44:54
3 Tristan Jacobs 45:17
1 Chantelle Gouws 43:42
2 Lu-Mari Du Plessis 44:00
3 Jana Kotze 51:28
1 Omar Wilson 55:12
2 Samuel Cleary 57:30
3 Andre Van Rooyen 57:32
1 Carla Jansen Van Vuuren 55:28
2 Errin Mackridge 56:50
3 Jodi Mackinnon 58:17
MASTER MEN 30+
1 Brand Du Plessis 1:01:20
2 Albertus Nel 1:04:36
3 Etienne Van Der Merwe 1:06:29
MASTER WOMEN 30+
1 Leonora Changuion 1:13:46
2 Christelle Le Roux 1:20:17
3 Irma Du Plooy 1:23:12
Sprogs and Nippers raced on a separate course – leading results:
1 Brandt du Plessis
2 William Ruthven
3 Joshua Mostert
1 Bella Grobler
2 Carli Venter
3 Lohane Ehlers
1 Aron van der Bare
2 Ethan Duvenage
3 Steffan Moolman
1 Leyla de Oliveira
2 Janli Bester
3 Alivia Nel
For full results, visit https://www.cyclingsa.com/mountain/ – click on 2022 Results.
Summerplace Game Reserve is located in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo Province. It has invested heavily in creating a stimulating mountain bike trails network that appeals to all levels of rider. It offers a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and is one of South Africa’s favourite mountain biking destinations. More info here.
Insect Science delivers eco-friendly pest-management solutions for the monitoring and control of insects that cause damage to commercial crops, stored food such as grains, and pests found in the home and garden. It has invested significantly in South African mountain biking through event and rider sponsorship and support. More info here.