The second-to-last MTN National Marathon Series race took place in Hilton yesterday, with Team RECM’s Nico Bell narrowly missing out on victory behind Cannondale Blend’s Darren Lill in the final kilometers. Ariane Kleinhans, however, took her fourth race win of the season, and the now stands in good stead going into the final race in Parys in September.
The Men’s race, over 110km and with 2650m of climbing, saw the main contenders together until the first climb Mount Verde to the KOM. Lill took the KOM, and a small group formed ahead with Knox (FedGroup) and Combrinck (EAI).
Bell and Evans (FedGroup) were 45 seconds behind at the halfway mark, and had to fight hard to make headway on the group up ahead.
With less than 30km to go, Bell had not only ridden himself into the front of the race with Lill, with Combrinck a further 1 minute behind; but had also dropped the likes of Knox and Evans.
Bell and Lill were tussling coming into the finish, but Lill was able to get a small advantage over Nico up the final steep climb to the finish at Hilton College. Combrinck finished 3rd, just behind Lill and Bell.
Bell extends his lead in series, and with the best 5 races out of the 8 in the Series counting for the overall honours, RECM’s Mr Consistency is looking good to successfully defend his 2013 MTN National Series National Champion title.
In the Women’s race, the three national champions of Switzerland, South Africa and Sweden had a gap on the rest of the rest of the bunch by the first tech zone at 14km done. The lead trio kept the gap until the climb up Mount Verde, but Robyn de Groot (Biogen Toyota) had to stop with a mechanical, with Kleinhans (Team RECM) and Stenerhag (Cape Brewing Company) soldiering on.
Kleinhans took the QOM at the top of Mount Verde, and rode solo for the rest of the race. It wasn’t until the last steep climb to the finish that Kleinhans spotted de Groot a few hundred meters behind. de Groot had fought back valiantly to pass Stenerhag to take 2nd place on the day, about a minute behind Kleinhans.
The series standings haven’t been updated as yet, but with 100 points separating the two leading Women going into Sunday’s race, and finishing within a minute of each other, it’s anyone’s guess who will wear the Women’s leader jersey at the Crater Cruise in September.
MTN National MTB Series
#8 Crater Cruise
13 September 2014
Parys, Free State
Look out for the Series Leaders:
The series leaders will be racing in the following jerseys at the Crate Cruise
- Overall men – yellow
- Overall women – pink
- KOM – Turquoise
- QOM – Blue starred
- u23 men – White
- u23 women – Light pink
- Junior men – Red
- Junior women – Purple