Defending champions Andrew Hill and Bianca Haw retained their men’s and women’s mountain bike titles at the tenth anniversary edition of the Sappi Scottburgh MTB and Trail Run Weekend on Sunday, but in vastly differing races.
Hill (TIB Insurance) came into the race sizing up a hat trick of wins, and had to come up with a plan to deal with that pressure and a strong men’s field, some of whom had peaked for the SA Cross Country Championships in Bloemfontein the day before the Scottburgh showdown.
“It is hard to ride with all that pressure but then you just have to take the bull by the horns and just go for it.” said Hill.
With a dangerous men’s field and a Scottburgh layout that had plenty of climbing and, true to its “raw and untamed” reputation could have derailed his hat-trick plans, Hill opted to make his move very early on in the race, contested in ideal weather and trail conditions.
“I had to!” he explained. “There were such strong riders here that I had to put them all under pressure right from the beginning, so I climbed really hard early on and it worked because I got a bit of a gap.
Hill knew that the two riders closest to him, Julian Jessop and Reinhard Zellhuber, had both raced at the SA XCO champs, though Zellhuber’s race was cut short by a mechanical problem.
Eventually only Zellhuber (Garrun Group) could stay with Hill as he continued to pile on the pressure at the front.
“It feels fantastic to claim the hat-trick of wins,” said Hill. “It was an awesome day out on superb trails and in beautiful weather conditions, which makes it all the more special,” he added.
Hill was excited by the form of his iMana Wild Ride partner Warren Price who finished fourth, narrowly losing the dice for the last step on the podium to Pyga/Euro Steel rider Jessop.
Meanwhile Bianca Haw (Red Bull/Cannondale) came into the defence of her title on a high after winning the women’s title at the XCO nationals in Bloemfontein on Saturday, and showed her class as she raced away unchallenged to win by five minutes.
“I love this track so much and it is nice that I know it because it sort of feels like home,” said Haw, a member of the host Scottburgh MTB club.
She said that she had relied on her boyfriend Andrew Houston to drive back from the Free State after winning her national XCO title on Saturday.
“He was determined to do the race in Scottburgh so we had to make it back in time,” she said.
“Luckily the women’s race in Bloem was done by midday so there was time for a quick shower and then into the car to Scottburgh,” she added.
“It is a great race to come back and win again because Flav (race organiser Flavia Scarpa) puts so much work into it, starting way before the KAP sani2c, and it shows,” she said.
Frances Janse van Rensberg and Uvongo star Hayley Smith had to slug it out in a thrilling end-sprint for silver that Janse Van Rensberg won by the slimmest of margin.
The 28km race was won by Brent Richter in a ding-dong duel with Nicholas Burczak.
The MTB races support the Cycling for Mobility charity that funds wheelchairs for patients that cannot afford them.
The Funky Pants Trail Run on Saturday was also very well supported, as over 550 athletes took part in the weekend’s trail running and MTB races.
The event formed Round Two of the South Coast Fever MTB Series. Series organiser Michael Bester said, “All the participants said the route was amazing, challenging and very well marked….another huge feather in Flavio Scarpa’s cap! They loved it!
“People had so much fun. We had a dad that, in my opinion must get the prize for dad of the year. He pushed his son all the way to the finish on the bike.
“We also had a finisher who didn’t know how to call it quits, so he walked and ran all the way to the finish with his broken bike on his shoulder!
“On the main beach, in the finish area, the music was going, the food court was set up and Daily Dose had a coffee shop going. Tiago’s was pumping some breakfast burgers, Funky Pants was selling some new design comfy clothing and EZ Massage was also present to iron out any aches and pains.
“A kids zone run by a local school had face painting and had kids bouncing on the jumping castles and to top it all, the sardines decided to also put in an appearance, so with quite a few hundred people were walking around eating, drinking coffee, surfing, fishing and watching the sardines
“The last portion of the race was on pallets that ran across the beach sand and then up onto the ramp by the kiddies’ pools, then straight through to the finish under the Sappi arch. It made the sprints for the finish very exciting to watch.
“All finishers got an ice cold Powerade, water and Sir Juice as they crossed the finish line. Hibiscus Insurance Brokers also gave out free water to all the riders and spectators as well as water bottles with the compliments of Hollard Insurance.
“Thank you to all the event sponsors concerned with this very successful event on the Scottburgh side – Sappi, Cycling 4 Mobility, Funky Pants, Sir Juice and EZ Massage and a few smaller local businesses that made the event what it was. Cycling 4 Mobility is also a fantastic charity that needs all our support!
“A huge thanks also to all the series sponsors – South Coast Fever, Ugu South Coast Tourism, Tiago’s, Hibiscus Insurance Brokers, Hollard Insurance, Powerade and One Way Productions.”
Round Three of the South Coast MTB Series, the Ingeli MTB and Fun Run, takes place at Ingeli Forest Lodge on Sunday, 29 July.
Scottburgh MTB Results:
1.Andrew Hill 1:39:01
2.Reinhard Zellhuber 1:39:52
3.Julian Jessop 1:42:07
4.Warren Price 1:42:09
5.Brennan Anderson 1:44:00
6.Jordan Wisdom 1:44:16
7.Jedson Tooms 1:44:44
8.Trevor Rowe 1:44:57
9.Cayden Muldoon 1:46:01
10.Wessel Swanepoel 1:46:06
1.Bianca Haw 1:53:09
2.Frances Janse Van Rensberg 1:58:12
3.Hayley Smith 1:58:12
4.Christie-Leigh Hearder 1:58:57
1.Brent Richter 1:14:31
2.Nicholas Burczak 1:41:31
3.Jordan Bold 1:18:43
4.Jonathan Watts 1:21:59
5.Rupert Taljaard 1:22:16
Trail Run results:
18km Female Overall
3rd Robyn Cooper 01:38:56
1st Place Zoe Papadakis 01:33:39
2nd Place Apiwe Gaga 01:35:02
18km Male Overall
3rd Zothile Moto 01:17:50
2nd Place Menzi Mtolo 01:11:58
1st Place Nomore Mandivengerei 01:11:56
10km Female Overall
3rd Place Sabrina Ward 01:13:55
2nd Place Shelley Higgo 01:08:41
1st Place Elke Lockem 01:06:12
10km Male Overall
3rd Place Wade Botha 01:05:34
2nd Place Luyanda Msomi 01:05:05
1st Place Lethu Mkhwanazi 01:03:06
5km Female Overall
3rd Place Lizelle Groger 00:32:02
2nd Place Hana Newlands 00:30:47
1st Place Riley Carr 00:28:41
5km Male Overall
3rd Place Heinrich Grobler 00:27:20
2nd Place Merrick Kennedy 00:25:43
1st Place Roy Newlands 00:24:12
Photos by Liberty