By winning the MTN South African Marathon Series race in Clarens over 77 km on Saturday, Ischen Stopforth (Marsilio Projects) proved that she is at the moment South Africa's top women's marathon rider. Her victory on Saturday also made her the overall winner of the women's series.
Stopforth, who is a doctor in real life, made it clear that this victory on her mountain bike at the moment beats anything that the medical profession can offer.
She had only one regret on Saturday and that was that a puncture abruptly ended the race for Yolandé de Villiers (Toyota-Cyclelab). De Villiers was the only other rider who still had a chance of winning the MTN series overall.
"It would have been special to have won by racing Yolandé to the end," said Stopforth.
Stopforth's winning time was three hours, 40 minutes and 22 seconds. To put her performance into perspective, she finished seventh overall out of a total of 133 riders entered the race.
Samantha Oosthuysen (Karsten Cycles/WIN) was second in 3:46:41, and Yolandi du Toit (Konica-Minolta) was third in 4:05:17.
When asked about Clarens' "Big Climb", Stopforth said it was certainly the most technical climb that she has ever had to ride. But all the suffering was forgotten once she reached the top of the mountain.
"The view was simply breathtaking," she said.
Racing downhill, Stopforth thought for a few brief seconds that her race might be over. She made a tactical error which nearly caused her to fly head over heels over the handlebar. Apart from this near accident, she enjoyed the race.
Oosthuysen said afterwards that she, took, enjoyed every moment of the race.
"Don't think I am bragging, but I really enjoyed riding the big climb," said Oosthuysen. "It was like riding straight up a wall. But the slickrock road surface helped because, once you got used to it, you realized that it gave your bike quite a good grip."
Oosthuysen's only setback happened just before the climb when her bike's chain fell off and she had to stop to put it back.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ischen Stopforth (Marsilio Projects)||3:40:22|
|2||Samantha Oosthuysen (Karsten Cycles/WIN)||0:06:19|
|3||Yolandi du Toit (Konica-Minolta)||0:24:55|