Nissan Trailseeker – Race Report

Deprived of racing for more than five months, a star-studded field will eagerly do battle for podium places at the Nissan Trailseeker mountain bike marathon at Buffelsdrift, Pretoria on Sunday, 6 September 2020. To ensure the much-anticipated occasion is widely celebrated, the event will be broadcast via livestreaming video.

Image Credits: Henk Neuhoff

After the disappointment of not being able to contest the 2020 Absa Cape Epic, which was cancelled 36 hours before the start due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, South Africa’s top mountain bike racers are hankering to get back into race mode on Sunday, albeit in a race environment significantly modified to comply with Cycling South Africa’s strict Covid-19 regulations.

In a ground-breaking enhancement, Sunday’s race will be filmed and aired live via livestream video on the Nissan Trailseeker Facebook page, making it possible for mountain bike enthusiasts around South Africa – and the world – to be able to follow the racing action as it happens.

“The live-streaming is a first for us as Faces Experience, but it’s been done successfully by other events and we have an experienced, world-class electronic media division, so we are looking forward to adding it to our offering,” said Fritz Pienaar, Managing Director of Faces.

The event, which would normally take place on a Saturday, will see the limited-entry field racing in small batches of fewer than 280 participants each over a duration of three days in five start waves, starting on Friday morning, 4 September and then continuing on Friday afternoon, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

The Buffelsdrift round of the 2019 Nissan Trailseeker Series doubled as the South African marathon championships, where Arno du Toit (DSV) and Samantha Sanders (dormakaba) were triumphant in tight contests.

The men’s race field for Sunday is strong and deep and includes Du Toit and his DSV teammate, 2018 national marathon champion, Gert Heyns. Last year’s silver and bronze medallists, Jan Withaar (24/7) and Phil Buys will also be on the start line on Sunday. Buys will be supported by his Pyga Eurosteel teammates, Matthys Beukes and Pieter du Toit.

Also entered are former South African marathon champion, Nico Bell and his new NanoTime teammates, Wessel Botha and Stuart Marais as well as the Insect Science trio of Alan Gordon, CP van Wyk and Keagan Bontekoning. Team Giant will be represented by Nicol Carstens and Marco Joubert, while Shaun Nick Bester and Timo Cooper will be flying the Darkhorse Wheels team colours.

Other significant names on the men’s start list include star Junior, Luke Moir (Silverback/Red Bull), Daniel van der Walt, Franko van Zyl, Ben Melt Swanepeol (Merida/Garmin), Erick Heyns, Henry Liebenberg, Brendan van Eeden, Barend Burger, Pieter Ben Korkie and Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Team First Move).

“I’m super excited to get back to racing this weekend! I love the punchy and technical terrain at Buffelsdrift. With such a strong field it’s going to make for a great racing spectacle. A big thanks for the organisers for going beyond the norm to put this event together,” said Du Toit.

“I’m excited to line up again see the mountain bike family,” said Beukes, a multiple Absa Cape Epic stage winner. “The time away from racing did me good, but it is now time to get back to what we love. Sunday’s route is short and flat, so doesn’t really suit me, but I’m there to give it my best shot and enjoy a quick burn with the boys.”

In the women’s race, Sanders will be joined by her Team dormakaba teammates, Robyn de Groot and Amy Beth McDougall. De Groot is a former Nissan Trailseeker Series champion, former multiple national marathon champion and the 2019 UCI marathon world championships bronze medallist.

Other top women on the start list are Galileo Risk’s Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph as well as Danielle Strydom (Trek) and Candice Lill (Faces), the 2019 South African Cross-country champion.

Former Olympic and World Champion, Sabine Spitz, who recently retired from racing, will also be on the start line, but is riding socially to enjoy her first experience of Highveld mountain bike trails.

“I can’t believe it – finally time to race again! I’m super excited for it and I’m sure the women’s race is going to be on fire,” said Lill. “It’s the first race after a really long time, so anything can happen. I’m just going to race instinctively and enjoy doing what I love most. Thanks to Nissan Trailseeker for the opportunity.”

“It’s amazing that the Faces team have been able to organise a race under such challenging circumstances. I am very grateful to them,” said De Groot. “I haven’t race since February so expect there will be some deep suffering, but I appreciate the opportunity to see people I haven’t seen for a long time, push my body again and enjoy racing bikes again!”

The event format, adjusted to comply with Covid-19 regulations, will be as follows:

  • Only riders are permitted at the race venue – no spectators or supporters.
  • Face masks are compulsory and must be worn properly before the start, after the finish and during water point stops.
  • Physical distancing must be strictly practiced.
  • On arrival, all riders need to have their temperature checked, answer some key Covid-19-related questions and sanitise thoroughly. No riders with a temperature above 37.5 deg C will be permitted to stay.
  • Water points are ‘touchless’. Riders take what they need and carry it with them until the finish. Water will be dispensed via a foot pedal.
  • There will be no on-site prizegiving, riders need to depart as soon as possible after finishing.

For more information on the Nissan Trailseeker Series, visit

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