Twenty-year-old rising star Brendan van Eerden completed a heroic solo charge to win the 2020 Challenge edition of the Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB race in very hot conditions on Saturday.
The young star, who was raised in Potchefstroom before moving to Hilton, followed his sprint win the Illovo Eston MTB Challenge last month by out-muscling establish local aces Andrew Hill, Tyronne White and the newly crowned Quattro ROAG Series champion Stuart Marais.
The specially arranged elite race was held on the last weekend of the three week window designed for the Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge that effectively replaces the traditional May event that had to be scrapped during the hard lockdown.
The young Team Absolute Motion racer set the pace at the front of the elite race from the start, with Hill, White and Marais watching his every move. At the first serious climb van Eerden upped the pace, which only Marais could match.
However as they approached the technical Gauntlet section, Marais picked up a puncture, which allowed van Eerden to get away alone at the front of the race. Behind them Hill was battling with his seat post slipping and was dropping out of title contention.
Tyronne White bridged back to join van Eerden at the front, but the young Potchefstroom-raised racer responded immediately by charging up the notorious Lebanon climb, dropping White in the process.
“Then I just concentrated on keeping the tempo up and making sure that gap stayed open,” said van Eerden, who raced the last half of the 60 kilometre outing alone in searing heat before raising his arms at the finish at the Karkloof Country Club to claim the prestigious title.
Exhausted and dehydrated, the youngster said it was the hardest one-day MTB race he had done.
“It is, by far, the toughest one day marathon anywhere in the country,” he said, adding that it was satisfying to win the event against a small field that included almost all the sports pacesetters in the province.
“The racing here in KZN is always proper! The guys are always on form so I was lucky to win this one against a really strong field,” he added.
White blew in the final forty five minutes of the race as the heat started to affect the tired riders, allowing Marais to leap-frog into second place.
The women’s title went to Cherie Redecker, balancing her urgency to win this title with sensible pacing and staying hydrated as the temperature crept into the upper thirties.
Last weekend Karkloof local Keira Duncan repeated his feat of the opening weekend of the festival by topping the results in the Enduro contest.
He shaved precious seconds off his already quick descents on the first leg of the gravity event to post an overall victory over Luke Dinkel and Andrew Houston, with Beanie Thies showing good form to win the women’s class from Bianca Haw.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
SAPPI KARKLOOF CLASSIC CHALLENGE 60km MARATHON
1.Brendan van Eerden 2:46:54
2.Stuart Marais 2:56:50
3.Tyronne White 2:58:58
4.Andrew Hill 3:03:55
5.Dean van Dyk 3:07:12
1.Cherie Redecker 3:47:54
1 Keira Duncan 10:46
2 Luke Dinkel 11:05
3 Andrew Houston 11:35
4 Omar Wilson 11:49 (Sub Junior)
5 Adrian Bam 11:53
1 Sabine Thies 13:34
2 Bianca Haw 14:37
3 Amber Cole 16:18
More info can be found at https://www.karkloofclub.co.za/events/sappi-karkloof-classic-challenge-2020/
Photo: Rising star Brendan van Eerden claims the prestigious Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge title at the Karkloof Country Club on Saturday. (Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media)