Western Cape local Andrew Neethling, a professional racer for the international Giant Factory Racing Team, claimed the 2014 African Continental Championship downhill title at Contermanskloof on Sunday.
Neethling's victory was not entirely a walk-in-the-park as he secured the winning time of two minutes 6.94 seconds in a close encounter with just under four seconds separating the top five finishers.
2013 African Continental Champs silver medallist Tiaan Odendaal repeated his finish by claiming silver yet again, a mere 0.42 seconds off the pace, with fellow local rider Johann Potgieter taking the bronze medal a further 1.30 seconds back.
Tim Bentley and Stefan Garlicki finished in fourth and fifth places respectively, clocking 2:09.25 and 2:10.69 respectively in their final runs.
"My off-season has been good, but good means hard," said Neethling after his victory. "I've been working hard at my fitness and my coach has not been easy on me. It felt good to race again after a long training block."
Neethling's next big event with his pro team is early April, for the start of the UCI World Cup season in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.
Speaking about the race at Contermanskloof, Neethling described just how close it was: "The top section of the track makes the racing very close, but it is the second half of the track where it gets really exciting. The trail becomes a lot looser and dustier, with holes developing, and the racing lines changing as the day progresses.
"My seeding run was consistent - it was what I wanted. Tiaan's result was not a surprise, but he was a lot closer than I expected - he is a great rider. I knew Johann (Potgieter) and Stefan (Garlicki) would be fast on the local course and that they would be out for blood as usual."
The elite women's title was claimed by Hayley-Ann Adamson in a time of four minutes and 38.79 seconds.
Andrew Martin posted the fastest time in the junior men's category to secure his victory in 2:18.60. Martin was followed by Jonathan Philogene (2:22.29) and Gregg Brown (2:28.79).
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Andrew Neethling (South Africa)||0:02:06.94|
|2||Tiaan Odendaal (South Africa)||0:00:00.42|
|3||Johann Potgieter (South Africa)||0:00:01.72|
|4||Timothy Bentley (South Africa)||0:00:02.31|
|5||Stefan Garlicki (South Africa)||0:00:03.75|
|6||Samuel Bull (South Africa)||0:00:06.00|
|7||Jonty Neethling (South Africa)||0:00:08.73|
|8||Theo Erlangsen (South Africa)||0:00:08.74|
|9||Adi Van Der Merwe (South Africa)||0:00:09.19|
|10||Hayden Brown (South Africa)||0:00:10.40|
|11||Darryn Stowe (South Africa)||0:00:11.40|
|12||Andrew Martin (South Africa)||0:00:11.66|
|13||Adriaan Smit (South Africa)||0:00:13.13|
|14||Duran Van Eeden (South Africa)||0:00:14.23|
|15||Ryan Frerichs (South Africa)||0:00:14.35|
|16||Tian Strooh (South Africa)||0:00:15.26|
|17||Jonathan Philogene (South Africa)||0:00:15.35|
|18||Roman Kumpers (South Africa)||0:00:19.31|
|19||David Hogan (South Africa)||0:00:19.59|
|20||Dane Olsen (South Africa)||0:00:20.20|
|21||Shane Martin (South Africa)||0:00:21.84|
|22||Gregg Brown (South Africa)||0:00:21.85|
|23||Kelvin Purchase (South Africa)||0:00:22.21|
|24||Andre Pretorius (South Africa)||0:00:24.26|
|25||Jacques Prins (South Africa)||0:00:28.16|
|26||Dylan Els (South Africa)||0:00:30.90|
|27||Louis Smith (South Africa)|
|28||James De Villiers (South Africa)||0:00:32.35|
|29||Theo Ngubane (South Africa)||0:00:32.88|
|30||Sebastian Petersen (South Africa)||0:00:35.51|
|31||Nicholas Camp (South Africa)||0:00:39.34|
|32||Dricus Pretorius (South Africa)||0:00:39.69|
|33||Robyn Geldenhuys (South Africa)||0:00:43.78|
|34||Tynan Usswald (South Africa)||0:00:44.47|
|35||Christopher Cartwright (South Africa)||0:00:48.51|
|36||James Savage (South Africa)||0:00:55.19|
|37||Joshua Bryant (South Africa)||0:00:55.85|
|38||Ryan Du Toit (South Africa)||0:02:25.85|
|39||Louis Van Sandwyk (South Africa)||0:02:31.66|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Hayley-Ann Adamson (South Africa)||0:04:38.79|