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:
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)

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)

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)

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.

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

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:
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)

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)

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)

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:
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)

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)

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)

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

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.”

60km MTB
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

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

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

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

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

16km Trail Run
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

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
1 Paige Mackenzie 53:55
2 Meggan Mackenzie 59:36
3 Tracy Harker 59:37

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

Epic second leg of Quattro ROAG Series on Sunday

By: Tim Whitfield

ANDREW Johnson, fresh from a great result in the Western Cape recently, will be looking to consolidate his lead in the Quattro ROAG Series when the second leg takes place in conjunction with the popular Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge and Trail Run on Sunday.

Johnson was a big four-minute winner over Warren Price at the opening leg of the Quattro ROAG Series in February and that early-season form was the foundation for a superb top-40 finish against international competition at the Cape Epic earlier this month.

The 39-year-old Ballito resident will be looking to take another step toward the R25 000 prize for the ROAG Series when he tackles the new-look Husqvarna Classic route on Sunday, but he will face some stiff competition from a sprinkling of riders who also enjoyed success at the Epic.

His biggest challenge is likely to come from the winner of the prestigious African jersey at the eight-day event in the Western Cape. Durban’s Julian Jessop (PYGA Euro Steel) was a last-minute substitution to partner Matthys Beukes at the Epic and surprisingly ended 12th to grab the jersey as the top all-African team, just pipping Howick’s Stuart Marais who was 13th with partner HB Kruger.

Marais and Jessop fought a race-long battle for the red jersey but with Marais heading to Egypt for the African continental championships on the same day, it frees up Jessop for the win, provided he has fully recovered from the stresses of the eight-day sufferfest. Jessop did not take part in the opening leg of the ROAG Series and will be playing catch-up and chasing points for at least the next few races.

Another rider who tasted success at the Cape Epic was Brennan Anderson, who is currently lying fourth behind Hendrik Bester in the ROAG Series. The South Coast resident teamed up with Cape Town’s Nicky Giliomee to win the mixed category at the Epic and will be looking to convert that block of racing/training into a good result this weekend.

Two other riders who should be in contention are Tyronne White and Dean Wortmann who have both shown some early season form and it will be fascinating to see how they perform against the Epic riders who have had to recover from the rigours of one of the toughest mountain bike races in the country.

In the women’s race Christie Leigh Hearder makes her first appearance of the year and is the odds-on favourite to take the win with Nadine Nunes sure to be in contention as well.

Both the top two riders from the opening leg at Wartburg, Andrea de Boer and Rouxda Grobler had not entered late on Wednesday so they may be skipping the second leg which may allow Hearder or Nunes to move to the joint top of the series standings.

In the 16km trail run Mark MacKenzie is favoured among the pre-entered runners but Mthokozisi Chamane and Wiseman Vezi both beat the Pietermaritzburg athlete at the Wartburg event and if they are among the late entries spectators can expect a tense three-way contest.

The women’s field should be led home by Karen Bargate or Alison Wasserfall, although series leader Wendy Mills will start as favourite if she is a late entry.

On Sunday the mountain bikers have a wide choice of routes ranging from the 60km Husqvarna X-treme Classic (which was introduced in 2016), the always popular 40km Safire MTB, the family-orientated 18km Gwahumbe Experience and the 10km Fun Ride, while runners can select from the 16km Farmers Agri-Care or the 9km Gwahumbe trail runs.

The trail runs start the action at 6.30am while the mountain bike events get underway from 8am

Quattro ROAG Series Standings

MTB: Men
1 Andrew Johnson 100
2 Warren Price 86
3 Hendrik Bester 74
4 Brennan Anderson 64
5 Nathan Treble 56
6 Dean Wortmann 51
7 Mazwi Smimango 47
8 Frederick Rossouw 44
9 Luke Chambers 42
10 Cayde Muldoon 41

MTB: Women
1 Andrea de Boer 100
2 Rouxda Grobler 86
3 Isabel Moolman 74
4 Tarryn Morgan 64
5 Brenda Potts 56

Trail Run: Men
1 Mthokozisi Chamane 100
2 Wisman Vezi 86
3 Mark Mackenzie 74
4 Steven Yates 64
5 Mthokozisi Dlamini 56

Trail Run: Women
1 Wendy Mills 100
2 Megan Wassung 86
3 Linda Gathmann 74
4 Astrid Schroder 64
5 Genevieve Barnard 56

Johnson and De Boer come out top at Wartburg

By: Tim Whitfield

THE opening leg of the 2018 Quattro ROAG Series took place in conjunction with the Illovo Wartburg Mountain Biker Classic and Trail Run at the week with some surprise winners and some old faces back at the front.

In the main 62km MTB event, the experience of Andrew Johnson allowed him to cruise to a surprisingly big win over Warren Price, who was in turn just able to edge out Hendrik Bester in the final dice for the line.

The win gives Johnson an early leg up in the ROAG Series and he will head into the second of the nine races, the Husqvarna Mid Illovo MTB Classic in April, as the surprise series leader.

In the women’s event, Andrea de Boer was just as much of a surprise winner as she secured a huge victory over Rouxda Grobler with Isabel Moolman claiming third.

In the trail running events, the 10km race for the elite runners saw Mthokozisi Chamane power to an impressive 20-second victory over Wiseman Vezi. That gives Chamane an early lead in the Quattro ROAG Trail Running leaderboard, but last year’s runaway series winner, Mark Mackenzie, was lurking just another 30 seconds behind and his consistency over the year is likely to ensure he is challenging for the title again toward the end of the year.

Wendy Mills continued where she left off in the 2017 series by notching up a victory in the opening leg when she won the women’s category from Megan Wassung and Linda Gathmann.

With other national cycling events taking place this weekend, including the SA Road Champs and the popular Tankwa Trek MTB race, as well as the Midmar Mile, the Wartburg field was not as strong as normal. However, at Mid Illovo, both defending champ Stuart Marais as well as four-time series winner Andrew Hill, and previous women’s series winners, Natalie Bergstrom and Jeannie Dreyer are all expected to be on the start line as they try and haul in the early leaders.

62km MTB
1 Andrew Johnson 2:38:10
2 Warren Price 2:42:58
3 Hendrik Bester 2:43:02
4 Brennan Anderson 2:49:13
5 Nathan Treble 2:50:29
6 Dean Wortmann 2:50:42
7 Mazwi Smimango 2:52:32
8 Frederick Rossouw 2:52:38
9 Luke Chambers 2:54:46
10 Cayde Muldoon 2:56:05

1 Andrea De Boer 3:15:53
2 Rouxda Grobler 3:25:28
3 Isabel Moolman 3:36:11
4 Tarryn Morgan 3:40:06
5 Brenda Potts 3:45:42

10km Trail Run
1 Mthokozisi Chamane 0:36:56
2 Wisman Vezi 0:37:16
3 Mark Mackenzie 0:37:46
4 Steven Yates 0:39:39
5 Mthokozisi Dlamini 0:42:14

1 Wendy Mills 0:44:06
2 Megan Wassung 0:45:32
3 Linda Gathmann 0:47:54
4 Astrid Schroder 0:49:26<
5 Genevieve Barnard 0:52:20

Wartburg welcomes ROAG Series riders and runners

By: Tim Whitfield

The country’s richest mountain biking series kicks off on Saturday when a sprinkling of KZN’s top riders tackle the Illovo Wartburg Classic and start their quest for the R25 000 first prize in the 2018 Quattro ROAG Series, the country’s richest mountain biking series.

With the runaway 2017 series champion Stuart Marais currently leading the Transcape race from Knysna to Franschoek and only finishing that on Saturday, his rival have the opportunity to get a head start in Wartburg on Saturday.

Marais scored a perfect six wins out of nine events in 2017 and his absence this weekend allows the likes of Brennan Anderson, Carl Calverley, Werner Moolman, Jedson Tooms, Tyronne White and Dean Wortmann to score some early points and force the defending champion to play catch up.

There are nine events spread throughout the year with the series culminating in the Safire Baynesfield race on September 16, but only the best six results count, allowing riders to discard poor results due to bad luck or mechanical issues. This format gives Marais some leeway and he is far from out of contention by missing the first event.

Wartburg is always one of the favourite events on the KZN calendar and the 60km main race provides a stiff test of early season form for riders. There is a good mix of technical single track through forests, as well as stretches of district road and some tough climbs, all of which ensure the winner must be in good early-season form, as well as be technically and tactically proficient.

Brenda Potts and Hayley Smith look to be the early protagonists in the women’s category and although defending series champion Natalie Bergstrom had not entered by Wednesday evening, she was still expected to be on the start line on Saturday morning.

In 2017 a trail running series was added to the Quattro ROAG Series lineup and Mark MacKenzie and Wendy Mills duly claimed the series title and prize money, and both are expected to be the runners to beat once again in 2018, although the increased prize money could attract a few more semi-professional runners to the series events.

Based around the Wartburg Kirchdorf School on Saturday, the trail running events start at 6am with runners having a choice of 5km and 10km distances, while the mountain biking events start at 7.45am with the 60km race followed by 45km, 25km and 10km options.