Cyclists honour Mandela's triumph of the human spirit

29 August 2015 – Hundreds of eager mountain bikers gathered at the iconic Nelson Mandela Capture Site in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands to cycle in honour of the great late former President Nelson Mandela as they tackled the 42km, 21km and 10km routes with Brendon Davids and Candice Neethling claiming the victories.

In what has been dubbed a massive prize purse for a classic race distance, Davids (Kargo Pro MTB Team) and Neethling (Pam Golding/Specialized) were both dominant in their performances from the get-go.

Davids pushed hard from the start and was not pressured by acclaimed cycling stars Darren Lill, Andrew Hill (TIB Insurance), Tyronne White (Thule SA), and other eager cyclists climbing the pack. By the 30km mark he had stretched his lead to more than five minutes in the incredible singletrack that was waiting for them in the Lion’s River Valley.

He was unfortunate to get tangled in some barbed wire, which would set him back slightly but fortunately not cost him his lead.

“I managed to get a gap about 20 minutes in, and I just focused on keeping it as hard as possible,” said Davids. “I pushed as hard as I needed to where I could and unfortunately just before the halfway mark I hooked a piece of barbed wire with my foot and came down quite heavily on my knee. Luckily I had worked hard enough from the start to still have some time to get going again and finish in front.”

This is the second Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash title for the Kargo Pro MTB Team. “Travis (Walker) was in Kargo colours last year when he won this race, and I think it’s pretty cool to get it second year in a row for the team,” said Davids.

Top contender and local rider Hill abandoned the race before the halfway mark due to an illness. It was Lill who continued to surge ahead in a bid to catch Davids, claiming second place overall, with third place going to White.

Smimango Mazwi of RMB’s Change a Life Academy, who finished 11th overall, breathlessly described the team’s experience of the race. “It was very good, but it was very tough. There was a lot of climbing. We tried to manage it even though it was very hard. But we really enjoyed it. It’s great to be racing for Mandela’s name, and so good for Change a Life.”

In the women’s race, it was Candice Neethling that rode a very strong race and remained untouchable throughout. Neethling heads to Europe next week to compete with the National Road team in two UCI races.

“I felt very strong, I’ve been training really hard because I am going to Europe next week to compete in some road races. This race fell at the right time for me and it was good to have done some hard mountain biking before I leave. A win is always a good confidence boost – I know it’s going to be a completely different story in Europe but I’m leaving on a positive note.”

Almost eight minutes behind was Tiffany Keep (Pure Adventure Wear) and a charging Hayley Smith (Bell), who rode a stronger second half of her race to pass endurance rider Jeannie Dreyer (USN/Hi-Tec) and claim third place overall.

Keep’s impressive performance throughout the race saw her claim the first prize in the Youth Women’s category and second place overall. “It was a very hard ride, it was extremely dusty out there. The course was really nice and I really enjoyed the singletrack that they put in this year. I was riding with a nice group of riders throughout. My legs got a little tired towards the end but in the end I am very happy with how I rode and being the second lady overall.”

In the 21km race, it was Mboneni Ngcobo (RMB Change A Life Academy) that claimed top honours with Juniors Timothy Nefdt and Leonard Robberts claiming second and third respectively. The women’s race saw young Sprog rider Chloe Bateson take the win, with Sub Junior Sarah Ryan (2nd) and Sub veteran Angela Dragt (3rd) rounding out the podium.

Mayor of uMgungundlovu Municipality, Councillor Yusuf Bhamjee, said it was a bold decision for the Municipality to host the two-day festival of sports, but that the concept behind the Mandela Day Marathon was to embrace more sports.

“We are forging a partnership with all codes of sport. The mountain biking event is the first event other than the marathon to go into its second year and we believe that we can live the legacy by cycling for Madiba in a way to bring all types of sporting codes and people together, because Madiba belonged to all.

“We need to create awareness to people from all the sporting codes that Madiba delivered a significant blow to racism, nationally and internationally. We will continue to use these events to endorse to young and old and the future generations the understanding of what the oppression was, what the struggle for freedom was and how now together we must address other pressing issues of poverty, unemployment and inequality. By doing this we can promote the legacy of Madiba.”

Summary of Results – Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash

42km – Overall Men

1.Brendon Davids (Senior)
2.Darren Lill (Sub Veteran)
3.Tyronne White (Sub Veteran)
4.Jaco Pelser (Senior)
5.Joshua Nelson (Junior)
6.Sthembiso Masango (Senior)
7.Matthew Wilkinson (Senior)
8.Ryan Piercey (Sub Veteran)
9.Stuart Marais (Senior)
10.Leeroy Emslie (Senior)

42km – Overall Women

1.Candice Neethling (Senior)
2.Tiffany Keep (Youth)
3.Hayley Smith (Senior)
4.Jeannie Dreyer (Sub Veteran)
5.Desiree Verwey (Sub Veteran)

21km – Overall Men

1.Mboneni Ngcobo (Senior)
2.Timothy Nefdt (Junior)
3.Leonard Robberts (Junior)
4.Devon Baird (Sub Junior)
5.Gerhard Gous (Veteran)
6.Sam Moore (Sub Junior)
7.Dreyer Botma (Sprog)
8.Timothy Larsen (Sub Junior)
9.Reece Mc Callum (Sub Junior)
10.Tanner Quinn (Youth)

21km – Overall Women

1.Chloe Bateson (Sprog)
2.Sarah Ryan (Sub Junior)
3.Angela Dragt (Sub Veteran)
4.Kerrine Harvey (Sub Veteran)
5.Gilly Robartes (Open)

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