Not a second to spare in battle for ROAG Series lead

On 2 July 2018 by admin

By: Tim Whitfield

THE lucrative Quattro ROAG Series passes the halfway point this weekend with a fascinating duel likely as riders and runners head into the rarefied mountain air for the Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Challenge.

With new MTB series leader Tyronne White skipping the fifth event of the nine-race series, the battle up front looks likely to be a tense affair between Andrew Johnson and young Julian Jessop, and the struggle will be even more intriguing as the two are locked on the same number of points in a tie for second overall on the Quattro ROAG Series standings. Whoever wins between the two will take over the lead in the series.

At the fourth event of the series two weeks ago, the Holla Sugar Rush Classic, White edged out Andrew Hill into second and then Jessop was just too strong for Johnson in a close race for third. Those results took White to 282 points, just eight ahead of Johnson and Jessop who are both locked on 274.

Crucially, however, Jessop has only taken part in three events and is sitting in pole position as the series passes the halfway point, although his “advantage” is nullified slightly by the fact both Johnson and White have had poor results in earlier events. Once riders complete more than six events they can discard results which could even things out a bit.

The Drakensberg Gardens MTB route is a mix of grasslands, technical single track, tricky climbs and beautiful clifftop riding and is a real mountain biking test of both fitness and mountain biking skills. The nature of the route and the approaches to the finish also means the winner needs to be tactically aware and this may just suit the older, more experienced Johnson who is yet to beat Jessop in the faster courses of the ROAG Series events so far this year.

The women’s race for the R25 000 series first prize also looks likely to be delicately poised after Sunday’s event. Current leader Andrea de Boer has a big 90-point lead but has taken part in four events, one more than current runner-up, Christie-Leigh Hearder. Crucially De boer is not on the list of pre entries for the Drak Gardens event so, unless she is a late entry, Hearder will take over the lead if she can win on Sunday.

The trail running series is also poised to provide an exciting finish with Mark Mackenzie consistently scoring good points at each of the four events so far. He holds a deceptively large 67-point lead over Nomore Mandivengerei who has taken part in just two events and notched up two wins. If Mandivengerei completes the required minimum of six races it is hard to see him not winning the series.

Mandivengerei and Mackenzie have both entered this weekend’s event and looks likely to lock horns again in a clash which could have a significant bearing on the final result.

The women’s trail running log has Sarah Gray holding a narrow lead despite only taking part in three events. Her nearest challenger, Wendy Mills, is just 21 points adrift but with four results she has ground to make up, while also needing to watch her back as Megan Wassung is not far behind despite just three events completed.

All three of the women’s series leaders will be at the Drakensberg resort with Gray the favourite to take the win and extend her lead, while Mills and Wassung likely to fight for the minor places over the undulating 20km trail run.

Latest Quattro ROAG Series points:
MTB
Men
1 Tyronne White 282pts (4 events)
2 Andrew Johnson 274 (4)
=2 Julian Jessop 274 (3)
4 Brennan Anderson 171 (3)
5 Cayde Muldoon 167 (4)
6 Mazwi Smimango 155 (4)
7 Nathan Treble 138 (3)
8 Jedson Tooms 119 (4)
9 Mark Misselhorn 118 (4)
10 David Low 111 (2)

Women
1 Andrea De boer 350 (4)
2 Christie-leigh Hearder 260 (3)
3 Landy Puddu 162 (3)
4 Isabel Moolman 159 (3)
5 Belinda Mason 158 (4)
6 Tarryn Morgan 145 (3)
7 Rouxda Grobler 142 (2)
8 Rentia Denissen 135 (3)
9 Nadine Nunes 125 (2)
10 Bianca Haw 100 (1)

Trail
Men
1 Mark Mackenzie 267 (4)
2 Nomore Mandivengerei 200 (2)
3 Thierry Pletinckx 197 (3)
4 Derek Wasserfall 141 (2)
5 Mthokozisi Chamane 100 (1)
6 Rupert Sebire 94 (3)
7 Mthobisi Mzolo 86 (1)
=7 Wisman Vezi 86 (1)
9 Christopher Halbert 74 (1)
10 Tony Perkins 72 (2)

Women
1 Sarah Gray 286 (3)
2 Wendy Mills 265 (4)
3 Megan Wassung 216 (3)
4 Gina Treleaven 115 (2)
5 Tarryn Lopez 100 (1)
6 Kim Westbrook 86 (1)
7 Alison Wasserfall 81 (2)
8 Linda Gathmann 74 (1)
=8 Apiwe Gaga 74 (1)
=8 Emily Yeo 74 (1)