Dullstroom’s High-altitude course primed for Mountain Bike Series Finale

The final round of the 2015 Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series will take place in the scenic high-altitude town of Dullstroom in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province this weekend – 12-13 September.

The two-day event gives mountain bikers a chance to escape from the city and make a weekend of the experience with the 75km marathon and 116km ultra-marathon taking place on Saturday and the 41km half-marathon, 20km fun race and 10km fun ride on Sunday.

“We have the event over two days because it allows families to fully enjoy the mountain biking. Some of our national series events are held over one day, which tends to make it more tricky for the whole family to compete; but not so at Dullstroom. It’s an ideal way to finish off the series,” said Fritz Pienaar of Advendurance, the company that organises the Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series.

Situated at just over 2000 metres above sea level, Dullstroom is a gem of a town in the Mpumalanga Highlands developed around fly-fishing, arts and crafts and fine cuisine. It’s less than a three-hour drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria and there’s a wide selection of accommodation making it an ideal destination for a family weekend away.

The hot, dry weather during this week is expected to continue into the weekend, with the expected high temperatures peaking in the low-to-mid 20s.These conditions should give riders the perfect riding conditions with trail surfaces that will be largely firm and dry after the recent rains.

The event sees the culmination of the seven race series, which is one of the largest and most prestigious marathon mountain bike series in the world, and has gone from strength to strength in collaboration with the new sponsor Ashburton Investments in 2015.

Swiss racer, Ariane Kleinhans (RECM), has already wrapped up the women’s series title and will not be at Dullstroom to contest the final event. Her three wins from the five events she contested have given her a sufficient lead to ensure that even if second-placed Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) wins at Dullstroom, she won’t score enough points to topple Kleinhans from the top spot.

De Groot’s only win in the Ashburton Investments Series this year came at Van Gaalen, which doubled as the South African Championships and she will be keen to wrap the series up with a victory at Dullstroom, where she was victorious in the 2014 edition.

The battle for the men’s Ashburton Investments National MTB Series title is still undecided going into the final round. Swiss racer, Konny Looser (Wheeler iXS) is the current leader, but will not be in Dullstroom to contest the final event. Only Max Knox (Biogen Volcan) can realistically challenge Looser for the coveted crown, but the South African will have to win the race or finish a very close second to score the 3784 points required to pass Looser’s total of 18203.

Knox has only contested four events in the ultra-marathon series so far and the final series points are calculated on the best five results for each rider. The ultra-marathon event on Saturday will be raced over a distance of 116km with 2500 metres of vertical ascent, while the marathon distance that the elite women will contest, is 75km with 1600 metres of climbing.

In addition to the Ultra-marathon and the marathon on Saturday, there’s a 41km half-marathon, a 20km fun race and a 10km fun ride on Sunday. Online entries are closed, but late entries can be done before the start at the race venue, Dunkeld Country Estate or on Friday at the Adventure Centre, Dullstroom.

While the Dullstroom event marks the final race of the 2015 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series, it’s also the first major race of spring, and many will be eager to see their form after a relatively mild winter by South African standards. It’s also a crucial time of the year for professional riders who are not guaranteed a contract for 2016 yet and many will be eager to impress potential sponsors with a strong performance.

Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series

Round 7, Dullstroom, Mpumalanga:

Friday 11 September 2015:

Adventure Centre, Dullstroom

16h00–1900: Registration and late entries

Saturday 12 September 2015:

Dunkeld Country Estate

06h15-07h45: Registration and late entries

07h00: Start Ultra-marathon Pro Elite and Amateur

07h10: Start Marathon women

07h30: Start Marathon A Batch + 5min intervals other batches

Sunday 13 September 2015:

06h30-09h00: Registration and late entries

07h30: Start Half-marathon A Batch

07h35: Start Half-marathon women A Batch + 5min intervals other batches

08h20: Start 20km Fun Race

09h05: Start 10km Fun Ride

For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com

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