MTN National Series Wrap-Up

This weekend saw the final round of the MTN National MTB Series, driven by Nissan, take place in the Free State town of Parys, South Africa. In a superb show of class and determination Nico Bell (Team RECM) put in a sterling ride that not only saw him claim the win on the day but also a second consecutive National MTB Series title.

The MTN Ride Crater Cruise Ultra Marathon took riders over 115km in the Vredefort Dome and was the final series decider which saw Darren Lill (Cannondale Blend), racing Lourens Luus and Bell (both Team RECM) for the overall title. The star studded line-up turned up the heat through the new technical kloof section, which was added to the 2014 event, where a select lead group of eight riders formed. The group contained all the main protagonists, barring Lill who looked worse for wear after the kloof section and saw his hopes fade for an overall series victory as Bell and co. distanced him.

The lead group saw Johann Rabie (EAI) Luus and Bell drive the tempo with five-time MTN Crater Cruise winner Kevin Evans (The Bike Shop). Some nervous moments ensued for Bell when he suffered a puncture on one of the fast rocky downhill sections. But he showed real professionalism, keeping his cool and managed to replace the wheel at the tech zone fast enough to be able to rejoin the front of the race, following a furious chase back.

It all came down to the last 20km with Evans, Bell, Rabie and Luus exchanging blows. Evans seemed determined to snap the elastic but was unable to shake a determined Bell. The deciding moment came in the final kilometres when Bell used his course knowledge, acquired riding the route the morning before and surged into the single track in the lead and crossed the line ahead of Evans who had to settle for second.

“I really thought I had it going into the last kilometres, I was feeling very strong. I remembered the route to be different coming in to the finish from previous years” said a disappointed Evans afterwards. Bell walked off with a cool R50 000 prize purse for the day and a second consecutive MTN National MTB Series, driven by Nissan, overall series title. What makes his win even more impressive is the fact that he did not necessarily have to win on the day to take the series title “I really wanted this win today” he commented after.

In the women’s race the overall series title was already won by Ariane Kleinhans (Team RECM) but the R32 000 prize fund on the day made for some exciting racing. Young Olympian Candice Neethling (VeloLife) was the surprise show on the day but it was Theresa Ralph (Club Tribe) who took the win ahead of Garmin’s Yolandi du Toit in second and Neethling topping off the podium in third.

The Ladiess podium at the MTN Crater Cruise, the final leg of the 2014 MTN National MTB Series.
The Ladie’s podium at the MTN Crater Cruise, the final leg of the 2014 MTN National MTB Series.


MTN Crater Cruise – Men’s Ultra-Marathon (115km)

  1. Nico Bell (Team RECM)
  2. Kevin Evans (The Bike Shop)
  3. Lourens Luus (Team RECM)
  4. Johann Rabie (EAI Cycling)
  5. Ben-Melt Swanepoel (EAI Cycling)

MTN Crater Cruise – Women’s Marathon (80km)

  1. Theresa Ralph (Club Tribe)
  2. Yolandi du Toit (Garmin)
  3. Candice Neethling (VeloLife)

Men Overall Series: MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan

  1. Nico Bell (Team RECM)
  2. Lourens Luus (Team RECM)
  3. Kevin Evans (The Bike Shop)

Women Overall Series: MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan

  1. Ariane Kleinhans (Team RECM)
  2. Robyn de Groot (Biogen Toyota)
  3. Yolandi du Toit (Garmin)

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