The penultimate round of the MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan that took place in Hilton this weekend was hailed as perfectly timed to prime for World Marathon MTB Champs that will take place in the same area this weekend.
Darren Lill (Cannondale Blend) put his knowledge from his win at Hilton the previous season to good use and put in a sterling ride to take the win and put up his hand as an overall series contender with just one event remaining. “I knew the area and decided to race from the front and keep the pressure on” Lill added. Making the most of the hills Lill climbed his way to victory and a solid shot at the series title. Lill said afterwards: “I was quite happy to take the KOM on the way”.
His win shot him into fourth place in the National MTB Series standings putting him within striking distance of a series win. Lill is the only rider in the top5 who has completed only four of the five events that count towards the series standings. This means Lill only has to finish ahead of Bell and in the top5 at the final round of the series at MTN Crater Cruise to claim the overall title.
Advendurance the organising team behind the series was widely hailed for providing riders with the perfect preparation for World Marathon Championships. ABSA Cape Epic winner Robert Mennen (Topeak Ergon) heard about the event and decided to take part in the marathon rather than the ultra to fine tune his preparation. “I decided to only do the marathon because a 110 so close to world champs might have been a bit much. The course was great prep for World Marathon Champs to be held here next week. It was my second event in the National MTB Series and I’m very impressed, I wish we had a series like this in Europe but I guess this is another reason to come to South Africa” Mennen commented after the event.
Runner up and current series leader Nico Bell (Team RE:CM) said: “The international riders made it hard right from the gun and kept the tempo high. Darren really climbed well and Gawie and I had to very work hard to claw him back. I cramped towards the end and just could not match Darren in the final stretch to the line.”
Gawie Combrinck rounded the podium in third and commented: “My race was very up and down but managed to pull it together towards the end but legs just weren’t there towards the finish”.
The women’s race was hotly contested and saw three reigning national champions battle it out for the top step. The early tempo was set by Swedish champ Jennie Stenerhag riding for Cape Brewing Company but it was the Swiss champ Ariane Kleinhans (Team RE:CM) who crossed the line in first followed by newly crowned SA champ Robyn de Groot (Biogen Toyota).
Kleinhans said: “It was really an amazing race and credit has to go to the organisers for giving us the opportunity to fine tune so close to World Marathon Champs. It was really a great fight! Jennie Stenerhag (CBC) made it hard from the start and I had to put in a good effort to get away. Robyn nearly caught me right at the end and I had to push really hard to stay away. It is really a confidence boost ahead of next week’s world champs and could not have come at a better time.”
Just one week after successfully defending her national title de Groot commented: “I’m really grateful to be able to prepare here for world’s and Ariane really made me work hard to try and hang on to the overall series lead. I tried limiting my losses and came close enough to see her close to the end but she saw me after my tyre slid and made a noise and she just accelerated away when she saw me coming.”
Swede Jennie Stenerhag said: ‘I really had a great start to the race and put in some good efforts on the climbs. My energy just faded towards the end and couldn’t hold Ariane, Robyn also passed me before the finish”.
MTN Ultra Marathon
1. Darren Lill 04:42:49
2. Nico Bell 04:42:59
3. Gawie Combrinck 04:43:56
4. Frederik Ericsson 04:56:19
5. Max Knox 04:58:28
6. Kevin Evans 05:01:15
7. Timo Cooper 05:01:15
8. Lourens Luus 05:05:50
9. Yannick Lincoln 05:07:22
10. Hanco Kachelhoffer 05:08:52
MTN Marathon Women
1. Ariane Kleinhans 03:36:12
2. Robyn De Groot 03:37:26
3. Jennie Stenherhag 03:41:37
4. Jeannie Bomford 03:45:12
5. Aurelie Halbwachs 03:52:34
MTN Marathon Overall Male
1. Robert Mennen 03:05:44
2. Mathew Beers 03:07:22
3. Charl-Pierre Esterhuyse 03:27:25
4. David Cooke 03:33:24
5. Callan Deacon 03:35:54
Marathon u23 Male
1. Matthew Beers 03:07:22
2. Charl-Poerre Esterhuyse 03:27:25
3. Callan Deacon 03:35:54
Marathon u23 Female
1. Nicola Giliomee 04:50:52
For full results and more info visit www.nationalmtbseries.com
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Source: Advendurance Media