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.

Men

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.

Women

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

Women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Candice Neethling3:35:56 
2Robyn de Groot0:00:05 
3Catherine Williamson0:03:16 
4Leana De Jager0:12:08 
5Yolandi Du Toit0:12:10 
6Ariane Kleinhans0:14:23 
7Kendall Ryan0:22:28 
8Janine King0:28:35 
9Yolande Speedy0:29:40 
10Amy Mcdougall0:29:56 
11Dalene Van Der Leek0:36:28 
12Cherise Taylor0:37:59 
13Jackie Moore0:38:17 
14Vanessa Bell0:44:58 
15Bridgette Stewart0:45:47 
16Laurike Van Huyssteen0:48:09 
17Wilmarie du Plessis0:52:37 
18nadine nunes0:53:05 
19michel coetzer0:56:58 
20Savannah Vosloo1:04:16 
21natasha natasha1:07:48 
22Marina Smit1:08:58 
23Liesl Lourens1:21:20 
24Mariette Hattingh1:24:46 
25Lezille Bouwer1:29:20 
26Heila Meintjes1:33:20 
27Mia van Rooyen1:34:05 
28Katja MacGregor1:34:11 
29Delrie Ferreira1:41:46 
30Christine De Jager1:48:59 
31Dorothy Rood1:52:09 
32Jessica Grannum1:55:59 
33Zandile Ndhlovu1:58:05 
34heathers slabbert2:06:48 
35Roxanne van Winsen  
36Elaine Vermeulen2:10:23 
37Marika Malan2:16:45 
38Ania Ciolkosz2:56:43 
DNFAlexa Terblanche  
Men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Max Knox5:17:32 
2Matthys Beukes0:01:43 
3Charles Keey0:02:20 
4Lourens Luus0:02:24 
5Waylon Woolcock0:02:40 
6Erik Kleinhans0:02:57 
7Neil Macdonald0:07:23 
8Darren Lill0:09:33 
9Renay Grosutra0:10:03 
10Brandon Stewart0:10:47 
11Rourke Croeser0:11:19 
12Andrew Hill0:15:46 
13Kevin Evans0:27:28 
14louis-bresler knipe0:29:23 
15Oliver Munnik0:31:16 
16Greig Knox0:33:09 
17Miguel Santos Magan Faba0:33:23 
18Johann Ries0:33:24 
19barend burger0:40:50 
21Nico Bell0:42:31 
20Robert Sim  
22Roy Kruger0:45:23 
23warren squires0:46:40 
24Eoin Hurley0:49:05 
25Byron Ferreira0:49:20 
26Jaco Ferreira0:49:22 
27Tyron Bird0:58:23 
28Russel De Jager1:00:40 
29Guylin van den Berg1:01:32 
30De Wet Doman1:02:58 
31Scott Mckenzie1:06:09 
32Craig Stone1:08:00 
33James Ross-Marsh1:10:13 
34Fanie Venter1:10:22 
35Ronald Andrew Stockwell1:12:15 
36Wayne Mc Duling1:13:52 
37Stefan Ulland1:18:52 
38albert geldenhuys1:20:35 
39krokodil venter1:26:47 
40Fanus Vorster1:26:48 
41Malcolm Barske1:27:08 
42Neville Ackermann1:27:30 
43charles nienaber  
44Dirk Oerlemans1:33:36 
46Hein Botes1:35:49 
45Iniel Hattingh  
47Daniel Alikisente1:35:59 
48Johan Malan1:36:56 
49Ian Franken1:41:00 
50JACO KAMFER1:46:32 
51Howard Baxter1:50:58 
52Bruce Collins1:52:35 
53Cor Kraamwinkel1:53:10 
54Neville Rosenstein1:53:21 
55Shaun Neveling1:55:08 
56Marne Dirks1:58:24 
57Ettienne Doman1:59:43 
58Jacques Le Roux2:01:42 
59Emile Aldum2:05:22 
60Theo Jordaan2:06:08 
61Gert Janse van Rensburg2:06:20 
62Jaco Schoeman2:06:46 
63Jacques Rossouw2:06:47 
64Mark Bridges2:11:47 
65Waleed Baker2:14:31 
66Pieter de Jager2:16:09 
67Coenie Van Eck2:19:09 
68richard goussard2:21:47 
69Manus De Waal2:21:49 
70julien van der pluym2:24:25 
71Ivor Hambridge2:26:11 
72Timothy Kock2:26:15 
73Johan Piekaar2:31:56 
74Jeandre van Schalkwyk2:35:26 
75Bill Germishuys2:38:59 
1Anni Walls8:00:55 
77Dion Retief8:01:36 
76Glen Baptiste  
78Keegan Longueira8:04:42 
79Bennie Erasmus8:06:20 
80Willie van der Vyver8:11:30 
81Adriaan Botha8:11:31 
82Chris de Beer8:16:52 
83nic viviers8:16:53 
84Johan Erasmus8:22:35 
85luis lopes8:23:32 
86Danie Scholtz8:23:33 
87George Louw8:24:04 
2Nadine Klopper0:07:27 
88darren wilson0:07:53 
89Gene Jacobs0:09:21 
90Ernie van der Vyver  
91Lloyd Berndt0:11:47 
92Douglas Bradley0:11:48 
93Jaco Swanepoel0:16:26 
94Christopher Van Rooyen0:17:06 
95Jacques Brown0:17:46 
96Colin Anderson0:19:43 
97Victor Matfield0:20:13 
98Tobie Basson  
99Johan De Buys0:23:53 
100dave van den berg0:23:54 
101Henry Schurink0:33:08 
102Willem Strydom  
103Otto Behrens0:34:40 
104David Bouwer0:36:19 
105Peter Bouwer0:39:11 
106Keith Matthews0:39:13 
107Nathaniel Simpson0:41:20 
108Ryan de Bruin0:41:38 
109Gavin Robinson0:41:41 
DNFJakes van Staden  
DNFIgna Dougal  
DNFJames Reid  
DNFGawie Combrinck  
DNFClifford Coombe  
DNFRoger Rusch  
DNFSiegfried Rousseau  
DNFShaun Peschl  
DNFcarel le roux  
DNFDeon Klopper  
DNFashley cook  
DNFBruce Anderson  
DNFwayne wilson  
DNFPaul Bowers  
DNFHannes Davel  
DNFHerman Marx  
DNFThinus Dippenaar  
DNFMichael Levell  
DNFPieter Doman  
DNFFrans Hansen  
DNFMark Rogotzki  
DNFCarl van Maanen  
DNFJac Louis van Wyk  
DNFrorie wilson  
DNFPieter Strobos  
DNFKevin Butler  
DNFChristian Van der berg  
DNFCarl Mare  
DNFRex Benson  
DNFPhilip Buys  
DNFSam Vicakazi  
DNFHeine Engelbrecht  
DNFMarius Van Wyk  
DNFBruce Diesel  
DNFDaniel Barnard  
DNFMarthinus Bekker  
DNFPhilip Vermeulen  
DNFMarius Bruwer  
DNFAndrew Mclean  
DSQJohn Hayes  
DSQHulme Scholes  
DSQDeon Kretzschmar  
DSQTinus Snyman  
DSQRodney Mcloughlin  
DSQDaniel Herman Scholtz  
DSQRoland Blanks  
DSQGavin Kelsey  
DSQNienie Steenekamp  
DSQColin Crowley  
DSQFritz Kroon  
DSQMark Pieterse  
DSQNicola Horn  
DSQPieter Steynberg Vorster  
DSQJan Vermaak  
DSQDeon de Kock  
DSQRobin Wagner  
DSQHannes Botha  
DSQRichard Fair  
DSQMichael Jacks  
DSQpieter mccord  
DSQBradley Stroberg  
DSQdavid low  
DSQOckert Oosthuizen  
DSQKris Szentgyorgyi  
DSQWayne Croeser  
DSQNico Retief  
DSQFrancois Nel  
DSQLodewicus Malherbe  
DSQKieron Futter  

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