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White takes first pedal strokes to R25 000 bonus

By: Tim Whitfield

Tyronne White earned himself an early lead in the lucrative Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum when he picked up a narrow win in the opening event of the series, the Illovo Wartburg Classic MTB & Trail Run at the weekend.

White, the 2018 runner up in the series, edged his Ballito Bicycle Co teammate and training partner Andrew Johnson by a second for the 62km course after the pair had worked together to secure a 93-second lead over third-placed Warren Price.

In the women’s race Christie-Leigh Hearder was in a class of her own as she won the 62km event by a massive 20 minutes from Debrah Thomas with Tarryn Morgan third. Last year Hearder skipped the Wartburg event and it ended up costing her on the final series standings when she tied for first position overall and shared the R25 000 first prize with Andrea de Boer.

In the trail running Mthobisi Mzolo has some early momentum in the series and has a head start in the race to the increased R10 000 first prize. Mzolo ended almost three minutes ahead of Dumisani Shabalala with Mthokozisi Chamane four minutes further back over the tough 14km route.

On the evidence of the opening trail running event the fight for the R10 000 series prize is going to be tight with Jackie Moore edging Apiwe Gaga by just 30 seconds with Wendy Mills just over a minute further back.

In the MTB race White made an early break and saw Johnson chasing him. Rather than risk a two-against-one chase, White sat up and then spent the rest of the race riding with his teammate.

“Andrew and I are fairly evenly matched so after I got away early it just made sense to sit up and then ride together and work together,” said White. “It was actually a lot of fun riding with a friend and training partner.

“It is a tough course so it was good to be able to work together and make sure we could help each other to keep the other guys behind us.

“The Wartburg organisers have put a lot of work into the course since last year and I think they have improved the route a lot – I certainly enjoyed it a lot more this year.

“It is nice to get an early lead in the Quattro ROAG Series. I really enjoy supporting this series because I think they put a lot into mountain biking in the province . . . and the prize money at the end is a nice incentive,” said White before adding: “We are not fulltime professionals so if we can get the prize at the end of the year then it is a nice way to pay for taking part in the events.”

The next event in the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum is the Kamberg Classic in March.

Results

MTB Men

1 Tyronne White 2:24:33

2 Andrew Johnson 2:24:34

3 Warren Price 2:26:07

4 Mazwi Smimango 2:27:05

5 Brennan Anderson 2:28:05

6 Keagan Matthews 2:28:07

7 Luke Chambers 2:29:44

8 Matthew Stamatis 2:29:47

9 Hendrik Bester 2:29:51

10 Mboneni Ngcobo 2:32:20

MTB Women

1 Christie-Leigh Hearder 2:48:27

2 Debrah Thomas 3:08:31

3 Tarryn Morgan 3:13:54

4 Brenda Potts 3:20:07

5 Bronwyn Evans 3:29:00

Trail Run Men

1 Mthobisi Mzolo 0:53:08

2 Dumisani Shabalala 0:55:46

3 Mthokozisi Chamane 0:59:33

4 Lungisane Majola 0:59:35

5 Wiseman Vezi 1:00:39

6 Mdu Zondi 1:02:38

7 Matthew Edmonds 1:04:10

8 Wiseman Mkhonza 1:07:36

9 Craig Houston 1:08:50

10 Grant Humphrey 1:11:25

Trail Run Women

1 Jackie Moore 1:10:32

2 Apiwe Gaga 1:11:02

3 Wendy Mills 1:12:20

4 Patricia Dammann 1:12:52

5 Dorothy Fourie 1:19:06

6 Hayley Mackinnon 1:20:10

7 Alexandra Edmonds 1:22:54

8 Esther Van Der Merwe 1:22:56

9 Kirsten Hillermann 1:22:56

10 Esther Van Der Merwe 1:22:57

Wartburg starts 10-event Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum

By:
Tim Whitfield

Wartburg becomes the centre of attention for KwaZulu-Natal off-road riders and runners on Saturday when the country’s richest mountain biking and trail running series kicks off in the tiny KZN Midlands village.

The 62km Illovo Wartburg MTB Marathon and 14km Wartburg Build it Trail Run are the opening events in the lucrative Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum, and are traditionally seen by riders and runners as the beginning of the competitive year in the province.

Last year Andrew Johnson used the Wartburg event as the springboard to compete for the overall Quattro ROAG Series MTB title and the points he gained there for the Grand Prix-style competition went a long way towards his third position overall at the end of the season.

In the women’s series, Andrea de Boer’s victory in Wartburg was directly responsible for her sharing overall first place with Christie-Leigh Hearder and thus splitting the R25 000 first prize. At the end of the season the two ended on equal points and the tiebreaking rules meant her win in the opening event of the series was needed to secure the tie.

The Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum is not only the richest MTB series in the country, but is also believed to offer the biggest prizemoney of any trail running series in the country. Last year Nomore Mandivengerei was a runaway winner in the men’s category, while Sarah Gray edged into the lead at the final event to claim the women’s title from Wendy Mills, the winner of the Wartburg leg of the series.

Started in 2012, the ten-event Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum now offers R25 000 prize money for both the winning male and female athletes in the mountain biking category, and R10 000 for the top trail runners in both men’s and women’s classes. The series also rewards the top three in all age categories in both the MTB and trail running series with a total prize fund of R190 000.

A rider’s top six results count toward series standings.

The Wartburg event is always a highlight on the calendar for riders with their beautiful forest trails providing kilometres of single track and some spectacular views over the Mgeni Valley. The track is always well-prepared to ensure maximum enjoyment for the riders. The Wartburg events also pioneered the dual- and even in some places triple-single track concept to ensure riders do not get stuck behind slower riders in tight, twisty single track sections.

The course is designed by the local riders and contains a combination of short, sharp climbs, a vast variety of technical sections and undulating forest and cane roads which make the event an all-round test of skill, speed and fitness.

Pre-entries are via www.roag.co.za and close at midnight on February 6, with late entries accepted on the day at the start/finish at the Wartburg Kirchdorf School Fields from 5am to 9am.

We are excited to announce that the following events mentioned below will form part of the 2019 Quattro ROAG Series Powered by Momentum.

Event Date Venue
Illovo Wartburg MTB & Trail Run 09 February 2019 Wartburg Kirchdorf School
Kamberg Classic 30-31 March 2019 Glengarry, Kamberg
Husqvarna Mid Illovo Classic 28 April 2019 Gwahumbe Game & Spa
Sugar Rush Classic 12 May 2019 Sugar Rush Park, Ballito
Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival 01 -02 June 2019 Karkloof Country Club
Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Challenge 29 -30 June 2019 Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Resort
Sappi Scottburgh 20 – 21 July 2019 Scottburgh Main Beach
Illovo Eston MTB Challenge 04 August 2019 Beaumont Eston Farmers Club
Harburg Tour de Krantz 17 August 2019 Harburg Hall
Safire Baynesfield MTB & Trail 15 September 2019 Baynesfield Recreational Club

 

New look for 2019 Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum

Wriiten by: Tim Whitfield

THE country’s richest mountain biking and trail running series, the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum, will start in a few days with a new joint sponsor on board, increased prize money and a slightly updated format.

The Illovo Wartburg MTB Classic & Trail Run will once again kick off the prestigious series early next month. At the end of ten events in September, the top mountain-bike and trail run competitors on a Grand Prix-style points system, will walk off the biggest prize money of any MTB and Trail Running series in the country. The men’s and women’s winners will enjoy equal reward for their efforts.

The Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum was the brainchild of the Race Organiser Admin Group (ROAG), one of the largest sports entry event administration companies in South Africa and Mauritius, and was devised as a way of giving back to their clients – mountain biking and trails running events and their competitors.

Started in 2012, the ten-event series now offers R25 000 prize money for both the winning male and female athletes in the mountain biking category, and R10 000 for the top trail runners in both men’s and women’s classes.

The series is not only about the elite athletes, with all age categories being rewarded. The top three winners in all age categories (for both mountain biking and trail running) will receive prize money and a gift at the annual Awards Dinner in October. The total prize purse is in excess of R170 000.

For the first time the top schools will also be able to compete for an inter-schools prize. Prize money of R5 000 will go to both the winning high school and top primary school in the School’s Challenge. The School’s Challenge has been created in an effort to grow mountain biking and trail running from a grassroots level and to encourage up-and-coming riders and runners to participate in more races.

In the School’s Challenge points are awarded to schools for each learner that crosses the line which ensures the top schools are rewarded for participation as well as having the best riders and runners.

This year a tenth event has been added to the roster and riders and runners must compete in at least six out of ten of the most prestigious events in KwaZulu-Natal.

Competitors are awarded points according to their race positions with the best six results counting toward determining the overall winner. In the case of a tie at the end of the series, the seventh-best result will be used as a tiebreaker; if results are still equal, then an eighth will be included; until the tie is broken.

Last year’s events were tightly contested with Julian Jessop scraping home by just six points after second placed Tyronne White was out-sprinted into second place in the final event of the series at Baynesfield. For the final event Jessop was overseas with the South Africa team and was desperately waiting to hear the results – and if he was R25 000 richer. Had White won the sprint finish at Baynesfield, Jessop would have been squeezed into second position.

In the women’s series things were even tighter with Christie-Leigh Hearder and Andrea de Boer sharing the first prize. They ended in a tie on points after the nine events and on a count-back they had identical results in different events and could not be separated.

In the trail running series, Nomore Mandivengerei was a runaway winner in the men’s category and Sarah Gray edged into the lead at the final event to claim the title from Wendy Mills.

The series will welcome a new sponsor on board this year with Momentum joining long-time sponsors The Quattro Finance Group to ensure the growth of the series.

“For us as Momentum it is a privilege to partner with ROAG, the premier events organising company in KZN, and The Quattro Finance Group who have been involved in the series for a few years,” said Carel Bosman from Momentum. “It is a triangular partnership that is coming to life and we are hoping that through this partnership we can bring some real benefits to the participants and their family members.

“Our research shows us that people who are proactive about their health actually claim from insurance a lot less. So we have hard evidence of the benefits for people who are active and we are hoping to inspire new participants who will have a momentum shift toward a healthier lifestyle by taking part in the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum.”

Gary Watkins, CEO of the Quattro Finance Group, sees a strong synergy between the series and his company.

“The biggest reason we are involved in the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum is because we like dealing with people who share the same values as us,” said Watkins. “That applies to the ROAG staff as well as the participants in the events.

“We like the lifestyle associated with both sports. Mountain biking and trail running are great family activities and all the events in the series are family orientated, where mums and dads as well as kids can come out for the day and take part in the various running and cycling events – they are all very social.

“The people who do these events are the target market for Quattro. We are very lifestyle and health conscious and our products reflect that, so it makes sense for us to be involved in mountain biking and trail running and this is one of the biggest and best-organised series in the country.”

Nicole Talbot, the Managing Director of ROAG, sees the series as a way of giving something back to the MTB and trail running communities.

“The Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum has exceeded all of our expectations and we are delighted that we are able to take it to the next level this year with the help of our major sponsors,” said Nicole Talbot, the Managing Director of ROAG. “The series has always been one of the ways in which we can give something back to our mountain biking and trail running community.

“The aim is for our ROAG Members to love taking part in the series of races we have on offer, and for the world-class races that form part of the series to get the promotion they deserve.”

“Last year the racing was tight and exciting right up until the final event and I expect more of the same this year. With Momentum coming on board to join long-time major sponsors Quattro, I think we can make the 2019 series the best we have ever had.”

2019 Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum events

Event Date Venue
Illovo Wartburg MTB & Trail Run 09 February 2019 Wartburg Kirchdorf School
Kamberg Classic 30-31 March 2019 Glengarry, Kamberg
Husqvarna Mid Illovo Classic 28 April 2019 Gwahumbe Game & Spa
Sugar Rush Classic 12 May 2019 Sugar Rush Park, Ballito
Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival 01 -02 June 2019 Karkloof Country Club
Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Challenge 29 -30 June 2019 Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Resort
Sappi Scottburgh 20 – 21 July 2019 Scottburgh Main Beach
Illovo Eston MTB Challenge 04 August 2019 Beaumont Eston Farmers Club
Harburg Tour de Krantz 17 August 2019 Harburg Hall
Safire Baynesfield MTB & Trail 15 September 2019 Baynesfield Recreational Club

 

Jessop confident but women’s race is tight for Quattro ROAG Series title

By: Tim Whitfield

AS Julian Jessop finally seems to be imposing his grip on the men’s Quattro ROAG Series MTB log, the tight and tense battle for the women’s honours continues to get more intriguing with each event.

After Sunday’s Illovo Eston MTB Marathon there are just two events remaining in the lucrative Quattro ROAG MTB and Trail Running Series and while the men’s MTB is starting to look settled, the women’s battle between Christie-Leigh Hearder and Andrea de Boer could not be tighter.

The final two events in the series are the the aQuelle Harburg Tour de Krantz on August 18; and the Safire Baynesfield MTB Classic on September 16.

Jessop’s third place at the recent Sappi Scottburgh MTB race – just a day after he collected his third South African U23 cross country title in Bloemfontein – saw the PYGA Eurosteel rider move into a solid 86-point lead over second-placed Andrew Johnson.

Johnson’s Ballito Bicycling Company teammate, Tyronne White, is third, 22 points further back but crucially with a result in hand which makes him probably Jessop’s biggest danger in the race to the R25 000 first prize.

Jessop and White are both taking part at Eston while Johnson has not pre-entered although he could still submit a late entry on the day.

While Jessop is surely satisfied with his 86-point lead and knows that just one more good result should see him almost guaranteed of winning the title, there is hope for his rivals.

The talented rising star faces a busy few weeks and his focus is to peak for the highlight of his season, the World Cross Country Championships in Switzerland on September 5-9. That means hard training sessions could rob him of peak racing condition at Eston and Harburg, and the travel to and from Switzerland could mean he is not at his best a week after the World Championships at Baynesfield.

But for White and Johnson to capitalise they will pretty much need race wins and the strong field at Eston, with previous Quattro ROAG Series winners Andrew Hill and Stuart Marais topping the ROAG rankings on the entry lists, means the Ballito pair face an uphill battle to unseat Jessop.

The women’s struggle for the biggest series prize in South African mountain biking is virtually guaranteed to go all the way to the final event in September as Hearder enjoys a desperately close four-point advantage over De Boer.

Hearder and De Boer have dominated the series events this year and have not finished more than one position apart in any series event they have both raced this year. Both have completed five events and so need just one more race to qualify so as to be able to start discarding weak results and replacing them in the final two events.

Not surprisingly they are the two top ranked women riders on the pre-entries at Eston and whoever has the best finish this weekend will go into the final two events on top of the log.

In the trail running log Nomore Mandivengerei has taken control of the men’s series with four wins from the past four events and two more reasonably good finishes should give him the 2018 Quattro ROAG Series title.

The women’s trail running log has Wendy Mills on top from six finishes, but Sarah Gray is just 13 points behind from four events so it is hard to see Gray not claiming the title if she finishes the required six events.

Latest Quattro ROAG Series points:
MTB
Men
1 Julian Jessop 434pts (5 events)
2 Andrew Johnson 348 (5)
3 Tyronne White 282 (4)
4 Cayde Muldoon 260 (6)
5 Brennan Anderson 227 (4)
6 Nathan Treble 216 (5)
7 Warren Price 214 (3)
8 Frederick Rossouw 168 (5)
9 Jedson Tooms 166 (5)
10 Mazwi Smimango 155 (4)

Women
1 Christie-Leigh Hearder 410 (5)
2 Andrea de Boer 406 (5)
3 Belinda Mason 259 (6)
4 Nadine Nunes 243 (4)
5 Rentia Denissen 231 (5)
6 Landy Puddu 204 (4)
7 Tarryn Morgan 181 (4)
8 Isabel Moolman 159 (3)
9 Wendy Corkin 141 (4)
10 Debrah Thomas 130 (3)

Trail
Men
1 Nomore Mandivengerei 400 (4)
2 Mark Mackenzie 368 (6)
3 Thierry Pletinckx 247 (4)
4 Mdu Zondi 212 (3)
5 Rupert Sebire 175 (5)
6 Grieg Walker 88 (3)

Women
1 Wendy Mills 385 (6)
2 Sarah Gray 372 (4)
3 Megan Wassung 267 (4)
4 Apiwe Gaga 222 (3)
5 Alison Wasserfall 122 (3)
6 Karen Maiden 116 (3)
7 Zanele Jele 95 (3)

Defending champs dominate in Scottburgh

Written by: Dave Macleod

Scottburgh – Defending champions Andrew Hill and Bianca Haw retained their men’s and women’s mountain bike titles at the tenth anniversary edition of the Sappi Scottburgh MTB and Trail Run Weekend on Sunday, but in vastly differing races.

Hill (TIB Insurance) came into the race sizing up a hat trick of wins, and had to come up with a plan to deal with that pressure and a strong men’s field, some of whom had peaked for the SA Cross Country championships in Bloemfontein the day before the Scottburgh showdown.

“It is hard to ride with all that pressure but then you just have to take the bull by the horns and just go for it.” said Hill.

With a dangerous men’s field and a Scottburgh layout that had plenty of climbing and, true to its “raw and untamed” reputation could have derailed his hat-trick plans, Hill opted to make his move very early on in the race, contested in ideal weather and trail conditions.

“I had to!” he explained. “There were such strong riders here that I had to put them all under pressure right from the beginning, so I climbed really hard early on and it worked because I got a bit of a gap.

Hill knew that the two riders closest to him, Julian Jessop and Reinhard Zellhuber, had both raced at the SA XCO champs, though Zellhuber’s race was cut short by a mechanical problem.

Eventually only Zellhuber (Garrun Group) could stay with Hill as he continued to pile on the pressure at the front.

“It feels fantastic to claim the hat-trick of wins,” said Hill. “It was an awesome day out on superb trails and in beautiful weather conditions, which makes it all the more special,” he added.

Hill was excited by the form of his iMana Wild Ride partner Warren Price who finished fourth, narrowly losing the dice for the last step on the podium to Pyga/Euro Steel rider Jessop.

Meanwhile Bianca Haw (Red Bull/Cannondale) came into the defence of her title on a high after winning the women’s title at the XCO nationals in Bloemfontein on Saturday, and showed her class as she raced away unchallenged to win by five minutes.

“I love this track so much and it is nice that I know it because it sort of feels like home,” said Haw, a member of the host Scottburgh MTB club.

She said that she had relied on her boyfriend Andrew Houston to drive back from the Free state after winning her national XCO title on Saturday.

“He was determined to do the race in Scottburgh so we had to make it back in time,” she said.

“Luckily the women’s race in Bloem was done by midday so there was time for a quick shower and then into the car to Scottburgh,” she added.

“It is a great race to come back and win again because Flav (race organiser Flavia Scarpa) puts so much work into it, starting way before the KAP sani2c, and it shows,” she said.

Frances Janse Van Rensberg and Hayley Smith had to slug it out in a thrilling end-sprint for silver that Janse Van Rensberg won by the slimmest of margin.

The 28km race was won by Brent Richter in a ding-dong duel with Nicholas Burczak.

The MTB races support the Cycling for Mobility charity that funds wheelchairs for patients that cannot afford them.

The Funky Pants Trail Run on Saturday was also very well supported, as over 550 athletes took part in the weekend’s trail running and MTB races.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS
Sappi Scottburgh MTB & Trail Running Weekend
45km MTB
1.Andrew Hill 1:39:01
2.Reinhard Zellhuber 1:39:52
3.Julian Jessop 1:42:07
4.Warren Price 1:42:09
5.Brennan Anderson 1:44:00
6.Jordan Wisdom 1:44:16
7.Jedson Tooms 1:44:44
8.Trevor Rowe 1:44:57
9.Cayden Muldoon 1:46:01
10.Wessel Swanepoel 1:46:06

Women
1.Bianca Haw 1:53:09
2.Frances Janse Van Rensberg 1:58:12
3.Hayley Smith 1:58:12
4.Christie-Leigh Hearder 1:58:57

28km MTB
1.Brent Richter 1:14:31
2.Nicholas Burczak 1:41:31
3.Jordan Bold 1:18:43
4.Jonathan Watts 1:21:59
5.Rupert Taljaard 1:22:16

Tricky conundrum for Quattro ROAG Series leaders

Written by: Tim Whitfield

THE national mountain biking championships in Bloemfontein on Saturday is going to provide opportunities, and present a tricky conundrum, for riders taking part in the Sappi Scottburgh MTB event 450km away.

Scottburgh is the sixth leg out of nine in the popular Quattro ROAG Mountain Bike Series and riders hoping to collect the biggest MTB series prize in the country are aware that this weekend’s South Coast event could be crucial in the final series outcome.

With just three events after Sunday’s Scottburgh race, the chances for points are running out for those hoping to make up ground on rivals on the closely-contested log. And the national mountain bike cross country champs taking place in Bloemfontein this weekend adds to the intrigue as it creates a chance for some riders to make up points and others to lose points.

The cross country specialists – such as log leader Julian Jessop and South Africa’s number two ranked Stuart Marais, who are both competing for national titles in Bloemfontein – have a tough decision: Do they rush back to KZN on Saturday night and race in Scottburgh in a potentially fatigued state, or accept they will not get points in Scottburgh and trust their rivals do not pick up too many points?

For Jessop, who needs just two more race finishes to have six result and thus qualify for the series prize of R25 000, it is possibly not a make-or-break decision as he can afford to “discard” one of the remaining events, although he has entered and is expected to be on the start line on Sunday after the drive back.

Marais, however, needs to finish all four remaining races to qualify for the series so he has a crucial decision to make if he still wants to be in line for the big prize.

The fact some of the big names may forego the points as they chase national titles presents opportunities for the chasing pack to collect a race win at Scottburgh and potentially unseat Jessop.

Marais’s win at the recent Gooderson Drak Challenge (just his second race of the series so far) has moved him up to fifth on the log, while Jessop (four events) claimed second despite a mechanical problem and now holds a narrow 12-point lead over Andrew Johnson (five). Tyronne White (four) is third, but if he grabs his second win of the season he could take over the overall lead once again.

The women’s race for their R25 000 prize is desperately tight with Andrea de Boer and Christie-Leigh Hearder just separated by four points. Between them the pair has shared three wins and three second places from the five events so far this year and their race for the title looks like going down to the final event in Baynesfield in September.

In the men’s trail running log, Mark Mackenzie still holds the lead he inherited at the second event of the year, but the consistent runner is looking over his shoulder as Nomore Mandivengerei mounts a potent challenge for the title.

Mandivengerei has won the last three events and as long as he finishes three of the remaining four events – Scottburgh, Eston, Tour de Kranz and Baynesfield – then it is hard to see him not collecting his first overall title.

The women’s trail running log is led by the consistent Sarah Gray who has won or been placed second in all four events she has taken part in, while Wendy Mills is 43 points behind with an extra result.

Latest Quattro ROAG Series points:
MTB
Men
1 Julian Jessop 360pts (4 events)
2 Andrew Johnson 348 (5)
3 Tyronne White 282 (4)
4 Cayde Muldoon 218 (5)
5 Stuart Marais 186 (2)
6 Nathan Treble 179 (4)
7 Brennan Anderson 171 (3)
8 Mazwi Smimango 155 (4)
9 Warren Price 150 (2)
10 Frederick Rossouw 132 (4)

Women
1 Andrea de Boer 350 (4)
2 Christie-Leigh Hearder 346 (4)
3 Belinda Mason 222 (5)
4 Nadine Nunes 199 (3)
5 Rentia Denissen 191 (4)
6 Landy Puddu 162 (3)
7 Isabel Moolman 159 (3)
8 Tarryn Morgan 145 (3)
9 Rouxda Grobler 142 (2)
10 Wendy Corkin 114 (3)

Trail
Men
1 Mark Mackenzie 317 (5)
2 Nomore Mandivengerei 300 (3)
3 Thierry Pletinckx 200 (3)
4 Mdu Zondi 148 (2)
5 Derek Wasserfall 147 (2)
6 Rupert Sebire 141 (4)
7 Tony Perkins 76 (2)
8 Ross Treleaven 68 (2)
9 Grieg Walker 60 (2)
10 Michael Campbell 49 (2)

Women
1 Sarah Gray 372 (4)
2 Wendy Mills 329 (5)
3 Megan Wassung 216 (3)
4 Apiwe Gaga 148 (2)
5 Gina Treleaven 115 (2)
6 Zanele Jele 95 (3)
7 Karen Maiden 83 (2)
8 Alison Wasserfall 81 (2)
9 Jacqualine Slogrove 69 (2)
10 Julyette Lewis 45 (2)

Not a second to spare in battle for ROAG Series lead

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)

Quattro ROAG Series battle gets tight up top

By: Tim Whitfield

AS the 2018 Quattro ROAG Series approaches the halfway mark, the points log shows a fascinating insight into the age-old battle between consistency and speed.

Sunday’s Holla Sugar Rush Festival in Ballito is the fourth race in the province’s premier mountain bike and trail running contest, and the season-long battle for the biggest prizefund of any mountain biking series in the country is shaping up to be something special in 2018.

Riders and runners have to take part in at least six of the nine events, which means the Holla Sugar Rush Festival is a watershed event and anybody who has not participated in at least one event after this weekend will not be in line for the R25 000 first prize in the men’s and women’s mountain bike series.

Currently topping the men’s MTB log is Andrew Johnson, who is no doubt a bit disappointed by finishing 15th at the Sappi Karkloof earlier this month, but still heads the table thanks to his early season form when he won the Wartburg Classic and was third at the Husqvarna Classic in Mid Illovo.

The Holla Sugar Rush is a perfect “home event” for Johnson and he will revel in the chance to fight it out in a race on his doorstep, on trails he uses regularly for training rides. The best six results count toward the final points tally in the Quattro ROAG Series, which means Johnson will be able to discard his Karkloof result, but the talented veteran rider will be keen to keep up the pressure with another strong top-three finish.

However, the standings are tight at the top of the log with young U23 speedster Julian Jessop just ten points behind the Ballito veteran. Jessop skipped the opening event but has been dominating since then and with two sprint wins at Husqvarna and Karkloof, the PYGA Eurosteel team rider is probably the early season favourite to claim to overall title.

Lurking just behind the top two is Johnson’s Ballito teammate Tyronne White, who is returning to top form after some time off the bike and he is sure to continue to pick up a steady stream of points and make sure the top two cannot afford too many mistakes.

Also lurking within 40 points of the leader is Brennan Anderson and he will be hoping his consistency adds another clutch of points to keep him in contact with the leaders this weekend.

Meanwhile, a rider who has more motivation than most is Stuart Marais from Howick. One of the country’s top cross country riders, Marais is currently unsponsored and announced this week that he may be forced to retire as a professional rider later this season iof he does not find a spons or a crowdfunding initiative he started this week does not yield some benefit.

Marais lost a sprint against Jessop at Karkloof and did not compete in earlier events due to clashes with other major national events. That leaves him just outside the top ten, however, the cross country specialist will revel in the Holla Trails course this weekend and with the carrot of a R25 000 prize at the end of the season he will be motivated to claim the win on Sunday as a down payment toward earning his living as a cyclist.

In the women’s series, Andrea de Boer is building on her victory in the season-opening Wartburg Classic and holds a big lead over Christie-Leigh Hearder. However, Hearder has finished one position ahead of De Boer in the two most recent events and the series leaders will be aware her lead is being chipped away – and once events are discarded the log will close up dramatically.

In the trail running series, Mark Mackenzie’s consistent early season form puts him at the top of the log with Derek Wasserfall not far behind. But lurking dangerously are a host of runners who have only one good result so far this season, such as race winners Mthokozisi Chamane and Nomore Mandivengerei and runners up Mthobisi Mzolo and Wiseman Vezi , and if they take part in the required six events could end up as easy winners of the series.

The women’s trail running log is exciting with three runners within 16 points. Megan Wassung and Wendy Mills have picked up points in all three events so far, but Sarah Gray’s two wins from the most recent two events show that she is probably going to be the runner to beat in this category.

Latest Quattro ROAG Series points:
MTB: Men
1 Andrew Johnson 210
2 Julian Jessop 200
3 Tyronne White 182
4 Brennan Anderson 171
5 Nathan Treble 138
6 Cayde Muldoon 125
7 Mazwi Smimango 122
8 David Low 111
9 Mark Misselhorn 90
10 Ndumiso Dontso 89
= Carl Adendorff 89

MTB: Women
1 Andrea de Boer 250
2 Christie-Leigh Hearder 174
3 Nadine Nunes 125
4 Belinda Mason 117
5 Isabel Moolman 112
6 Landy Puddu 111
7 Tarryn Morgan 106
8 Bianca Haw 100
9 Rentia Denissen 91
10 Bronwyn Evans 88

Trail Run: Men
1 Mark Mackenzie 181
2 Derek Wasserfall 141
3 Thierry Pletinckx 123
4 Mthokozisi Chamane 100
= Nomore Mandivengerei 100
6 Mthobisi Mzolo 86
= Wiseman Vezi 86
8 Christopher Halbert 74
9 Steven Yates 64
= Ross Treleaven 64
= Russell Bell 64
= Gary Hill 64

Trail Run: Women
1 Megan Wassung 216
2 Wendy Mills 201
3 Sarah Gray 200
4 Gina Treleaven 115
5 Kim Westbrook 86
6 Alison Wasserfall 81
7 Linda Gathmann 74
= Apiwe Gaga 74
9 Jacqualine Slogrove 69
10 Astrid Schroder 64
= Avril Halstead 64

Quattro ROAG Series battle of the ages

Written by: Tim Whitfield

THE Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival will see a battle between the old hands and the young guns as riders fight for points in the third leg of the Quattro ROAG Series.

After two out of the nine events in the province’s premier marathon mountain bike series, veteran Andrew Johnson is leading the standings after he opened his account with a victory at the Wartburg Classic in February, and then followed that up with an impressive third at the second leg at the Husqvarna Mid-Illovo Classic in April.

Those two results give the Ballito resident a big lead over sub-vet Tyrone White, who had a disastrous race at Wartburg but finished second at Mid-Illovo. White has been riding himself into good form recently and his technical skills and climbing ability could make him the rider to beat in the single-track laden Karkloof Forests this weekend.

However, the man who beat White at the Husqvarna, South African U23 champion Julian Jessop, will be tough to beat and will be keen to show his two older rivals that his win in Mid Illovo was all about skill and speed.

A fourth rider who could stake a late claim for series honours is Stuart Marais. The Howick resident has not taken part in any of the Quattro ROAG Series events so far this season while he has been riding big stages races. But he enjoyed a double win at the weekend when he emerged victorious in both the Absolute MTB Challenge in Howick (where he narrowly beat White) on Saturday and the final leg of the KZN Lap Challenge Series in Pietermaritburg on Sunday.

If he can make it three wins from three races, then Marais will stake a solid claim and put himself on course to claim the R25 000 prize for winning the series.

In the women’s MTB standings, Andrew de Boer, with a win and a second in the opening two legs, is in a strong position with a huge lead in the standings. However, Christie-Leigh Hearder, who won in Mid-Illovo, is favoured to make up more points on De Boer in Karkloof and with seven more events de Boer may struggle to keep her lead over the next few months.

The Quattro ROAG Trail Run series, which is held in conjunction with the MTB Series, sees 2017 champion Mark Mackenzie’s two third-place finishes giving him a solid lead over joint second-placed Mthokozisi Chamane and Derek Wasserfall. Chamane and Wasserfall won the opening two legs of the series but have both each only raced one event so far.

The women’s trail run is the closest dice of all the elite standings with Megan Wassung’s two second places giving her a narrow lead ahead of the 2017 champion Wendy Mills who won the opening leg but ended up a disappointing fourth at Mid-Illovo.

The Karkloof Classic is the third leg of the nine-race series and will be followed by The Holla Sugar Rush Festival in mid June and Gooderson Drak Gardens Challenge at the end of the month.

Latest ROAG Series Standings

MTB Men
1 Andrew Johnson 174
2 Tyronne White 126
3 Brennan Anderson 120
4 Julian Jessop 100
5 Nathan Treble 97
6 Cayde Muldoon 92
7 Mazwi Smimango 87
8 Warren Price 86
9 Dean Wortmann 78
10 Jordan Wisdom 75

MTB Women
1 Andrea de Boer 186
2 Tarryn Morgan 106
3 Christie-Leigh Hearder 100
4 Rouxda Grobler 86
5 Belinda Mason 80
6 Nadine Nunes 74
= Isabel Moolman 74
8 Lauren Snailham 69
9 Landy Puddu 64
10 Rentia Denissen 56
= Brenda Potts 56

Trail Run Men
1 Mark Mackenzie 148
2 Mthokozisi Chamane 100
= Derek Wasserfall 100
4 Thierry Pletinckx 86
= Wiseman Vezi 86
6 Gary Hill 64
= Steven Yates 64
8 Mthokozisi Dlamini 56
= Ross Treleaven 56
10 Wiseman Mkhonza 51
= Byron Cochran 51

Trail Run Women
1 Megan Wassung 172
2 Wendy Mills 164
3 Sarah Gray 100
4 Linda Gathmann 74
= Gina Treleaven 74
6 Jacqualine Slogrove 69
7 Astrid Schroder 64
8 Genevieve Barnard 56
= Deanne Walsh 56
10 Elmarie Thole 51

Jessop’s dream month continues

By: Tim Whitfield

SOUTH Africa U23 champion Julian Jessop continued his dream month when he beat off the challenge of Tyronne White in a dash for the line at the 60km mountain bike race at the Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge and Trail Run on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Jessop – who is coming off a dream 12th position finish at the recent Absa Cape Epic and so claimed the prestigious African Jersey title with Matthys Beukes – and White approached the finish together. However the young PYGA Eurosteel rider had too much firepower for his more experienced challenger and powered across to line to win in a time of 2:32:08, two seconds ahead of White.

Quattro ROAG Series leader Andrew Johnson claimed third position just 29-seconds further back and his third position in Sunday’s second leg of the series, combined with his win in the opening leg at Wartburg in February, ensures the Ballito resident holds top spot in the race for South Africa’s richest prize for a mountain bike series.

David Low and Brennan Anderson rounded out the top five.

In the women’s 60km race, Christie Leigh Hearder made her first appearance at a Quattro ROAG Series event of the year and notched up a convincing five-minute win to put the pressure on series leader Andrea de Boer. De Boer was second and keeps a firm grasp on the series lead going into the third leg at Karkloof in May, but will be aware that Hearder is lurking.

One of the most intriguing dices of the day was the women’s 40km MTB that saw matric pupil Tiffany Keep edge out Frances Janse van Rensburg by two minutes, while schoolboy Travis Stedman was clear winner in the men’s 40km race.

In the trail runs, Derek Wasserfall cruised to victory with Thierry Pletinckx just over two minutes off the pace in the 16km race while Mark Mackenzie was third. Mackenzie’s third, when combined with his third position in the opening leg, is enough to move him to the top of the standings in the Quattro ROAG Series.

Sarah Gray enjoyed a two-minute win in the women’s 16km trail run with Megan Wassung recording her second runner-up spot in two races after she was edged out by Wendy Mills at Wartburg. The two runner-up finishes are just enough to edge her to the top of the Quattro ROAG Series leaderboard, but Mills, who was fourth on Sunday, is now just eight points behind on the log.

Jacqui Cochran, the marketing manager from Husqvarna, was full of praise for the Mid Illovo event which she has seen grow substantially in the time her company has been involved with the popular race.

“Husqvarna is proud and delighted to partner with the Mid Illovo community for the past eight years. It has been a joy and delight to watch the race grow, but still retain its community following and hands-on approach by the local residents of the farming community.

“This event is not just a commercial success, but has managed to keep its personality that it always has had.”

RESULTS:
60km MTB
Women:
1 Christie-Leigh Hearder 2:59:09
2 Andrea De Boer 3:04:22
3 Nadine Nunes 3:13:49
4 Landy Puddu 3:16:31
5 Rentia Denissen 3:22:58
6 Courtney Smith 3:23:59
7 Bronwyn Evans 3:27:17
8 Caryn Harvey 3:33:30
9 Tarryn Morgan 3:34:00
10 Debrah Thomas 3:36:25

Men:
1 Julian Jessop 2:32:08
2 Tyronne White 2:32:10
3 Andrew Johnson 2:32:39
4 David Low 2:34:50
5 Brennan Anderson 2:37:28
6 Cayde Muldoon 2:39:24
7 Ndumiso Dontso 2:39:58
8 Jordan Wisdom 2:40:47
9 Bongumusa Zikhali 2:41:01
10 Nathan Treble 2:42:28

40km MTB
Women:
1 Tiffany Keep 2:18:48
2 Frances Janse van Rensburg 2:20:33
3 Chloe Bateson 2:37:15

Men:
1 Travis Stedman 2:00:41
2 Johandre’ Marx 2:05:36
3 Sam Moore 2:06:10

18km MTB
Women:
1 Emily Van Heerden 56:37
2 Hannah Elliott 1:02:14

3 Riley Smith 1:02:15
Men:
1 Jordan Brandon Bold 46:55
2 Brent Richter 50:27
3 Jonathan Watts 52:00

16km Trail Run
Women:
1 Sarah Gray 1:24:32
2 Megan Wassung 1:26:58
3 Gina Treleaven 1:31:18
4 Wendy Mills 1:32:33
5 Deanne Walsh 1:49:52

Men:
1 Derek Wasserfall 1:12:53
2 Thierry Pletinckx 1:15:22
3 Mark Mackenzie 1:17:13
4 Gary Hill 1:21:57
5 Ross Treleaven 1:24:14

9km Trail
Women:
1 Paige Mackenzie 53:55
2 Meggan Mackenzie 59:36
3 Tracy Harker 59:37

Men
1 Roy Newlands 46:20
2 Jack Mackenzie 52:21
3 Lynton Kinloch 53:24