Max Knox (Specialized/EAI Solutions) and Samantha Sanders won the UCI World Series event at the South African MTN Clarens National Marathon MTB event over 100km. The race was the fourth event in the series and part of the UCI World Series which consists of 15 races around the globe.
It was Knox's second consecutive victory at MTN Clarens. "It is always special to defend a title. It is exciting to race at MTN Clarens because the organizers keep on changing the route," said Knox.
"This was the fifth time that I have raced at MTN Clarens and every time there were one or two surprises. I suppose it is their way of continuing to level the playing field."
Nico Bell (Westvaal/Bell's Cycles) finished second with Germany's Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls) third.
During the MTN Clarens race Bell purposely started off conservatively. "I have been battling a virus over the past 14 days. I only realized that something was wrong when my heart beat sky-rocketed and cramped quite badly during the MTN Tulbagh event. During the Mzansi Tour, it became even worse and I had to withdraw after stage 3," Bell told reporters.
"The doctor whom I consulted advised me to take a complete break from cycling for at least two weeks. So I had no expectations for MTN Clarens. I was thinking along the lines of just riding to support my teammate, Gawie Combrinck. But I surprised even myself."
Bell commented after the race that he felt like a new person. "When I was still riding in the front with Gawie, Max (Knox) and Stefan Sahm (Germany), I realized that I was in with a chance to win. Unfortunately for me, Max rode the near perfect race, doing exactly the right things at the right moment. This enabled him to open up a small gap on the last climb."
"I was hoping to catch up with him on the tricky descent, but I could not."
Sahm was full of praise for the route. "I cannot remember when last I rode on single track for so many kilometres. It was fantastic, and the scenery along the route was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed myself," said the three-time winner of the Cape Epic.
Sahm, a three-time winner of the Cape Epic, is now leading the UCI World series with Bell second overall in the MTN National MTB Series. Knox will have moved up to about fifth place in the overall standings of the MTN National Series.
Knox ensured his victory when he attacked on the last climb about 20km from the finish in the small town of Clarens. None of the other riders were able to keep up with him.
Germany's Steffen Thum deserves a special mention. His mountain bike's saddle broke off which forced him to basically stand and pedal for approximately 10km until he could duct tape his water bottle onto his seat post for another 20km before he could fix it. Despite his setback, he still managed to finish sixth.
Knox, the defending MTN marathon champion, and Charles Keey (Cannondale/Blend Properties) are neck and neck at the moment in the South African marathon series. Both riders have won two races in the series so far. Apart from winning at MTN Clarens, Knox was also victorious at MTN Barberton, whereas Keey won at MTN Sabie and MTN Tulbagh. Both riders also came third once, Knox in Sabie and Keey in Barberton.
Keey did not race at Clarens because he was competing in the Joburg2C. On Saturday, May 11, they will resume their battle in the MTN Gravel Travel marathon that is scheduled to take place in and around Wellington.
It will require a special effort from Knox to win again on Saturday in the Cape. Nobody can remember when, if ever, any rider was able to win races in the MTN National MTB Series on two consecutive weekends.
Samantha Sanders (Valencia), who hails from Hoedspruit, took command of the 74km women's race, finishing over two minutes clear of second-placed Christine Jansen van Rensburg in 03:14:51. Amy Mcdougall finished in third place, 6:14 off the pace.
Sanders also achieved top results in the national cross country series, which sees a burst of speed and high-acceleration versus the endurance required for marathon racing. "The course in Clarens is enjoyable," said Sanders. "I love riding the technical stuff but Clarens definitely presents its own challenges.
"The long undulating stretches of road can be tough if you're on your own, and it allows the bunches of riders to catch up on you quickly."
The bunch splintered on the first climb leaving Sanders to battle it out with Jansen van Rensburg and American Kendall Ryan.
"Going up, I just rode my own pace as I know how severe the climb is at one point. After Christine made a mistake on a very steep section of the climb and had to uncleat, I knew she was on the limit. I focused on being smooth and consistent on the power, and it payed off. I took the Queen of the Mountain prize and built up a good lead.
"Winning was never a decisive thought in my mind as I knew she (Christine) would chase, so I rode hard until I crossed the finish line."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Max Knox (RSA)||4:18:17|
|2||Nico Bell (RSA)||0:00:32|
|3||Stefan Sahm (Ger)||0:01:34|
|4||Gabriel Combrinck (RSA)||0:05:45|
|5||Matthys Beukes (RSA)||0:08:36|
|6||Steffen Thum (Ger)||0:11:41|
|7||Tom Ettlich (Ger)||0:15:46|
|8||Guylin Van Den Berg (RSA)||0:18:58|
|9||Timothy Hammond (RSA)||0:19:53|
|10||Ben Melt Swanepoel (RSA)||0:21:33|
|11||Henry Uys (RSA)||0:21:34|
|12||Greig Knox (RSA)||0:23:20|
|13||Shaun Oosthuizen (RSA)||0:30:12|
|14||Donovan Lubbe (RSA)||0:37:20|
|15||Shaun Mackenzie (RSA)||0:39:58|
|16||Warren Squires (RSA)||0:41:42|
|17||Armand Du Toit (RSA)||0:42:36|
|18||James Ross-Marsh (RSA)||0:43:28|
|19||Craig Stone (RSA)||0:49:43|
|20||Heine Engelbrecht (RSA)||0:55:29|
|21||Alan Van Coller (RSA)||0:56:04|
|22||Dan Owens (RSA)||0:56:44|
|23||Jonathan Odendaal (RSA)||0:57:31|
|24||William White (RSA)||0:59:24|
|25||Pierre Gouws (RSA)||1:01:22|
|26||Pablo Morales (Spa)||1:05:03|
|27||Julien Van Der Pluym (RSA)||1:08:49|
|28||Lee John (Zim)||1:17:30|
|29||Dale Kretzinger (RSA)||1:17:41|
|30||Gideon Van Oudtshoorn (RSA)||1:18:22|
|31||Francocois Du Toit (RSA)||1:18:29|
|32||Nico Botha (RSA)||1:18:34|
|33||Stephan Coerthing (RSA)||1:22:39|
|34||Cornel De Villiers (RSA)||1:23:25|
|35||Robert Du Preez (RSA)||1:25:40|
|36||Alan Henry (RSA)||1:27:40|
|37||Beyers Rossouw (RSA)||1:28:27|
|38||Francois Smith (RSA)||1:29:30|
|39||Rudolf Viljoen (RSA)||1:31:05|
|40||Heinie Naude (RSA)||1:34:37|
|41||Stephan Grobler (RSA)||1:34:50|
|42||Jacques Rossouw (RSA)||1:35:02|
|43||Emile Aldum (RSA)||1:35:14|
|44||David Kretzmann (RSA)|
|45||Graham Chrystal (RSA)||1:37:59|
|46||Gary Raath (RSA)||1:38:02|
|47||Lloyd Berndt (RSA)||1:43:13|
|48||Jeremy Ivins (RSA)||1:45:43|
|49||Jaco Swanepoel (RSA)||1:50:55|
|50||Christopher Van Rooyen (RSA)||1:51:00|
|51||Mike Trafoyer (RSA)||1:51:31|
|52||Willem Raubenheimer (RSA)||1:53:53|
|53||Martin Van Der Westhuizen (RSA)||1:53:54|
|54||Marco Marques (RSA)||1:54:36|
|55||Sias Le Roux (RSA)||1:54:56|
|56||Marc Grune (RSA)||1:55:15|
|57||Jaco Storm (RSA)||2:03:47|
|58||Daniel Louw (RSA)||2:12:42|
|59||Eric Marzoppi (RSA)||2:16:02|
|60||Ian Smith (RSA)||2:16:03|
|61||Markus Brand (RSA)||2:17:00|
|62||Adolf Potgieter (RSA)||2:19:40|
|63||Jacques Nel (RSA)||2:20:33|
|64||John Loos (RSA)||2:28:00|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Samantha Sanders (RSA)||3:14:51|
|2||Christine Janse Van Rensburg (RSA)||0:02:17|
|3||Amy Mcdougall (RSA)||0:06:14|
|4||Kendall Ryan (USA)||0:08:30|
|5||Ashleigh Parker-Moffatt (RSA)||0:13:28|
|6||Leana De Jager (RSA)||0:25:58|
|7||Vanessa Bell (RSA)||0:31:18|
|8||Michelle Van Der Merwe (RSA)||0:35:56|
|9||Savannah Vosloo (RSA)||0:40:28|
|10||Rebecca Van Der Linde (RSA)||0:51:00|
|11||Michel Coetzer (RSA)||0:52:32|
|12||Tayla Odendaal (RSA)||0:55:27|
|13||Susan Sloan (RSA)||1:06:45|
|14||Christine De Jager (RSA)||1:21:51|