Knox and Neethling win in Barberton

South African marathon series gets underway

Max Knox (Specialized) used some "Burry Stander magic" to win the MTN Barberton marathon mountain bike race for a record fourth time on Saturday while Candice Neethling (BMC) prevailed in the women's race.


The finish was quite dramatic. When Knox entered the stadium, he slowed down and pointed one finger up to the sky in a salute to Stander, who was tragically killed by a taxi on a training ride earlier this year.

Knox made it clear that his sole motivation for the duration of the race was to ride a good race in honour of Stander.

Spectators at the finish noticed that Knox rode in a Specialized jersey with Stander's name emblazoned on the back.

There is an interesting story behind this. When Knox signed up to ride for Specialized, he did not have any kit at first, and Stander gave him one of his own jerseys. This was the jersey in which Knox won the Barberton marathon.

The race was a classic duel between Knox and Matthys Beukes (Contego). The duel began during the second lap when Knox attacked at the beginning of the last serious climb.

Beukes was the only rider who was able to take on Knox, turning the race into a thrilling contest. The former was slightly stronger on the climb, managing to stay about 10 seconds ahead of Knox, but going downhill Knox attacked and regained the lead.

Unfortunately for Beukes, he bonked with about five kilometres to go.

"Maybe it happened because I did not eat enough during the race. I simply had nothing left in my legs. All I could do was pray that nobody would pass me during the last few kilometres," Beukes said.

Luckily nobody did.

Knox's winning time for the race over 110km was five hours, 17 minutes and 32 seconds. Beukes was second in 5:19:15 and Charles Keey (Cannondale/Blend Properties) third in 5:19:52.

Because it was extremely important for Knox to win, he deliberately chose to play down his chances of winning. "I am not ready yet. It is too early in the season. I am planning to peak later on. It will be anybody's race."

These were just a few of his comments before the race.

Beukes's second-place finish came as a bit of surprise, especially because he mainly focussed on cross country racing during previous seasons. "I decided to compete more often in the marathon races. At long last I got the hang of racing over such long distances...

"But I still plan to compete in cross-country races as well."

For the first time in years, the race was not dominated by the same riders. Riders who impressed were Keey and Darren Lill (both Cannondale/Blend Properties), Erik Kleinhans, Lourens Luus and Waylon Woolcock (all RE:CM) as well as Rourke Croeser (Kargo / Orange Monkey).

Kleinhans is stronger and fitter than he ever was. On Saturday, however, he was extremely unlucky. It looked like a forgone conclusion that he would finish third but, when it mattered most, he was brought to a standstill by mechanical problems.

Lill impressed on the first climb. He attacked seconds after Knox complained about the negative racing.

At that stage it seemed as if everybody was just racing against Knox, waiting for him to do something.

Lill attacked and managed to obtain a lead of about two minutes on Beukes and Philip Buys (Scott) and another two minutes on the rest of the riders.

Unfortunately he also ended up being a victim of mechanical problems.

The 21-year-old Luus, who had been second at Attakwas, proved his consistency in marathons by coming fourth at Barberton.


In the women's race, it was not only a case of Olympian versus Olympian, but also of mountain biker versus road cyclist. In the end there was no surprise. Candice Neethling (BMC), the Olympic cross country mountain biker, prevailed. She won the 76km race in three hours, 35 minutes and 56 seconds.

Robyn de Groot, who represented South Africa in road cycling at the Olympic Games in London last year, was second in 3:36:01.

De Groot's performance on Saturday was impressive because the MTN Barberton race was her first serious attempt at mountain bike racing. "I did my first mountain bike race just before Christmas last year, but it was basically just a comfortable 55km fun ride on the Garden Route.

"My decision to race at Barberton was really taken on the spur of the moment," De Groot said.

Britain's Catherine Williamson and Ischen Stopforth were third and fourth respectively in the same time of 3:39:12.

The two Specialized riders gave the impression that they were just on a good hard training ride for the Cape Epic.

Ariane Kleinhans (RE:CM) was certainly the unluckiest rider on the day. Coming from her recent victory at the Attakwas, she attacked on the first serious climb of the Barberton race and managed to ride away from all her rivals. But a victory was not meant to be for her on Saturday.

Only a few kilometres further on, mechanical problems brought her attempt at Barberton to secure two consecutive victories to an abrupt halt. Neethling then took the lead, with De Groot catching up later on during the race.

The two of them became involved in a ding-dong battle. Neethling managed to open up small gaps on the technical sections, but De Groot clawed her way back on the climbs. But in the end, when it really mattered, Neethling was just that little bit more experienced and stronger.

This was Neethling's second victory in the MTN series. Last year she won at Hilton. She plans to race the MTN Sabie, and maybe Clarens as well, before shifting her focus back to cross country racing.

"My main goal for the season is definitely to be at my best for the cross country world championship in August in Pietermaritzburg."

De Groot said she thoroughly enjoyed herself on Saturday. "I will definitely compete in more mountain biking events from now on."

What was surprising about De Groot's mountain biking debut, was her strength going up the climbs. Only Kleinhans and Neethling were able to beat her to the top of the steepest climb.

As a road cyclist, De Groot is considered to be a sprinter who can also climb if the need should arise. "Coming from a road cycling background certainly helped. What should be remembered is that team tactics are important in road cycling.

"If your team's climber gets away on a climb, you don't chase her down. That is why I am seldom very aggressive in the mountain stages of tour cycling."

De Groot admits that she did suffer on the Barberton climbs. "At one stage the climb felt never-ending. Going downhill was fun, but I did experience some scary moments."

Full Results

# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Candice Neethling 3:35:56  
2 Robyn de Groot 0:00:05  
3 Catherine Williamson 0:03:16  
4 Leana De Jager 0:12:08  
5 Yolandi Du Toit 0:12:10  
6 Ariane Kleinhans 0:14:23  
7 Kendall Ryan 0:22:28  
8 Janine King 0:28:35  
9 Yolande Speedy 0:29:40  
10 Amy Mcdougall 0:29:56  
11 Dalene Van Der Leek 0:36:28  
12 Cherise Taylor 0:37:59  
13 Jackie Moore 0:38:17  
14 Vanessa Bell 0:44:58  
15 Bridgette Stewart 0:45:47  
16 Laurike Van Huyssteen 0:48:09  
17 Wilmarie du Plessis 0:52:37  
18 nadine nunes 0:53:05  
19 michel coetzer 0:56:58  
20 Savannah Vosloo 1:04:16  
21 natasha natasha 1:07:48  
22 Marina Smit 1:08:58  
23 Liesl Lourens 1:21:20  
24 Mariette Hattingh 1:24:46  
25 Lezille Bouwer 1:29:20  
26 Heila Meintjes 1:33:20  
27 Mia van Rooyen 1:34:05  
28 Katja MacGregor 1:34:11  
29 Delrie Ferreira 1:41:46  
30 Christine De Jager 1:48:59  
31 Dorothy Rood 1:52:09  
32 Jessica Grannum 1:55:59  
33 Zandile Ndhlovu 1:58:05  
34 heathers slabbert 2:06:48  
35 Roxanne van Winsen    
36 Elaine Vermeulen 2:10:23  
37 Marika Malan 2:16:45  
38 Ania Ciolkosz 2:56:43  
DNF Alexa Terblanche    
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Max Knox 5:17:32  
2 Matthys Beukes 0:01:43  
3 Charles Keey 0:02:20  
4 Lourens Luus 0:02:24  
5 Waylon Woolcock 0:02:40  
6 Erik Kleinhans 0:02:57  
7 Neil Macdonald 0:07:23  
8 Darren Lill 0:09:33  
9 Renay Grosutra 0:10:03  
10 Brandon Stewart 0:10:47  
11 Rourke Croeser 0:11:19  
12 Andrew Hill 0:15:46  
13 Kevin Evans 0:27:28  
14 louis-bresler knipe 0:29:23  
15 Oliver Munnik 0:31:16  
16 Greig Knox 0:33:09  
17 Miguel Santos Magan Faba 0:33:23  
18 Johann Ries 0:33:24  
19 barend burger 0:40:50  
21 Nico Bell 0:42:31  
20 Robert Sim    
22 Roy Kruger 0:45:23  
23 warren squires 0:46:40  
24 Eoin Hurley 0:49:05  
25 Byron Ferreira 0:49:20  
26 Jaco Ferreira 0:49:22  
27 Tyron Bird 0:58:23  
28 Russel De Jager 1:00:40  
29 Guylin van den Berg 1:01:32  
30 De Wet Doman 1:02:58  
31 Scott Mckenzie 1:06:09  
32 Craig Stone 1:08:00  
33 James Ross-Marsh 1:10:13  
34 Fanie Venter 1:10:22  
35 Ronald Andrew Stockwell 1:12:15  
36 Wayne Mc Duling 1:13:52  
37 Stefan Ulland 1:18:52  
38 albert geldenhuys 1:20:35  
39 krokodil venter 1:26:47  
40 Fanus Vorster 1:26:48  
41 Malcolm Barske 1:27:08  
42 Neville Ackermann 1:27:30  
43 charles nienaber    
44 Dirk Oerlemans 1:33:36  
46 Hein Botes 1:35:49  
45 Iniel Hattingh    
47 Daniel Alikisente 1:35:59  
48 Johan Malan 1:36:56  
49 Ian Franken 1:41:00  
50 JACO KAMFER 1:46:32  
51 Howard Baxter 1:50:58  
52 Bruce Collins 1:52:35  
53 Cor Kraamwinkel 1:53:10  
54 Neville Rosenstein 1:53:21  
55 Shaun Neveling 1:55:08  
56 Marne Dirks 1:58:24  
57 Ettienne Doman 1:59:43  
58 Jacques Le Roux 2:01:42  
59 Emile Aldum 2:05:22  
60 Theo Jordaan 2:06:08  
61 Gert Janse van Rensburg 2:06:20  
62 Jaco Schoeman 2:06:46  
63 Jacques Rossouw 2:06:47  
64 Mark Bridges 2:11:47  
65 Waleed Baker 2:14:31  
66 Pieter de Jager 2:16:09  
67 Coenie Van Eck 2:19:09  
68 richard goussard 2:21:47  
69 Manus De Waal 2:21:49  
70 julien van der pluym 2:24:25  
71 Ivor Hambridge 2:26:11  
72 Timothy Kock 2:26:15  
73 Johan Piekaar 2:31:56  
74 Jeandre van Schalkwyk 2:35:26  
75 Bill Germishuys 2:38:59  
1 Anni Walls 8:00:55  
77 Dion Retief 8:01:36  
76 Glen Baptiste    
78 Keegan Longueira 8:04:42  
79 Bennie Erasmus 8:06:20  
80 Willie van der Vyver 8:11:30  
81 Adriaan Botha 8:11:31  
82 Chris de Beer 8:16:52  
83 nic viviers 8:16:53  
84 Johan Erasmus 8:22:35  
85 luis lopes 8:23:32  
86 Danie Scholtz 8:23:33  
87 George Louw 8:24:04  
2 Nadine Klopper 0:07:27  
88 darren wilson 0:07:53  
89 Gene Jacobs 0:09:21  
90 Ernie van der Vyver    
91 Lloyd Berndt 0:11:47  
92 Douglas Bradley 0:11:48  
93 Jaco Swanepoel 0:16:26  
94 Christopher Van Rooyen 0:17:06  
95 Jacques Brown 0:17:46  
96 Colin Anderson 0:19:43  
97 Victor Matfield 0:20:13  
98 Tobie Basson    
99 Johan De Buys 0:23:53  
100 dave van den berg 0:23:54  
101 Henry Schurink 0:33:08  
102 Willem Strydom    
103 Otto Behrens 0:34:40  
104 David Bouwer 0:36:19  
105 Peter Bouwer 0:39:11  
106 Keith Matthews 0:39:13  
107 Nathaniel Simpson 0:41:20  
108 Ryan de Bruin 0:41:38  
109 Gavin Robinson 0:41:41  
DNF Jakes van Staden    
DNF Igna Dougal    
DNF James Reid    
DNF Gawie Combrinck    
DNF Clifford Coombe    
DNF Roger Rusch    
DNF Siegfried Rousseau    
DNF Shaun Peschl    
DNF carel le roux    
DNF Deon Klopper    
DNF ashley cook    
DNF Bruce Anderson    
DNF wayne wilson    
DNF Paul Bowers    
DNF Hannes Davel    
DNF Herman Marx    
DNF Thinus Dippenaar    
DNF Michael Levell    
DNF Pieter Doman    
DNF Frans Hansen    
DNF Mark Rogotzki    
DNF Carl van Maanen    
DNF Jac Louis van Wyk    
DNF rorie wilson    
DNF Pieter Strobos    
DNF Kevin Butler    
DNF Christian Van der berg    
DNF Carl Mare    
DNF Rex Benson    
DNF Philip Buys    
DNF Sam Vicakazi    
DNF Heine Engelbrecht    
DNF Marius Van Wyk    
DNF Bruce Diesel    
DNF Daniel Barnard    
DNF Marthinus Bekker    
DNF Philip Vermeulen    
DNF Marius Bruwer    
DNF Andrew Mclean    
DSQ John Hayes    
DSQ Hulme Scholes    
DSQ Deon Kretzschmar    
DSQ Tinus Snyman    
DSQ Rodney Mcloughlin    
DSQ Daniel Herman Scholtz    
DSQ Roland Blanks    
DSQ Gavin Kelsey    
DSQ Nienie Steenekamp    
DSQ Colin Crowley    
DSQ Fritz Kroon    
DSQ Mark Pieterse    
DSQ Nicola Horn    
DSQ Pieter Steynberg Vorster    
DSQ Jan Vermaak    
DSQ Deon de Kock    
DSQ Robin Wagner    
DSQ Hannes Botha    
DSQ Richard Fair    
DSQ Michael Jacks    
DSQ pieter mccord    
DSQ Bradley Stroberg    
DSQ david low    
DSQ Ockert Oosthuizen    
DSQ Kris Szentgyorgyi    
DSQ Wayne Croeser    
DSQ Nico Retief    
DSQ Francois Nel    
DSQ Lodewicus Malherbe    
DSQ Kieron Futter    

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