Skip to main content

Knox clinches overall MTN Marathon Series victory

Image 1 of 26

Max Knox outsprints Kevin Evans for the race win and likely also the series

Max Knox outsprints Kevin Evans for the race win and likely also the series
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 2 of 26

Gawie Combrinck leads the pace up a climb

Gawie Combrinck leads the pace up a climb
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 3 of 26

Max Knox being chased down by Kevin Evans in the flowing singletrack

Max Knox being chased down by Kevin Evans in the flowing singletrack
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 4 of 26

Kevin Evans is about to make the catch 10km from the finish

Kevin Evans is about to make the catch 10km from the finish
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 5 of 26

Kevin Evans claws his way back onto Max Knox's wheel

Kevin Evans claws his way back onto Max Knox's wheel
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 6 of 26

Kevin Evans flies through the Hilton forests

Kevin Evans flies through the Hilton forests
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 7 of 26

Kevin Evans shows sheer determination

Kevin Evans shows sheer determination
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 8 of 26

Brandon Stewart was the first to attack in the last 30km

Brandon Stewart was the first to attack in the last 30km
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 9 of 26

The crucial moment when Kevin Evans caught up to a flying Max Knox

The crucial moment when Kevin Evans caught up to a flying Max Knox
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 10 of 26

The early lead group

The early lead group
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 11 of 26

Men's podium at the Hilton Dirt Fest

Men's podium at the Hilton Dirt Fest
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 12 of 26

The fog cleared soon after the start and the racing heated up

The fog cleared soon after the start and the racing heated up
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 13 of 26

The lead group only a few kilometers after the start

The lead group only a few kilometers after the start
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 14 of 26

The leaders wind their way through sugar cane fields in the Hilton hills

The leaders wind their way through sugar cane fields in the Hilton hills
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 15 of 26

The men's podium

The men's podium
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 16 of 26

Brandon Stewart suffered a puncture, forcing him to lose contact with the leaders

Brandon Stewart suffered a puncture, forcing him to lose contact with the leaders
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 17 of 26

The race expoloded when Brandon Stewart went clear and all the names gave chase

The race expoloded when Brandon Stewart went clear and all the names gave chase
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 18 of 26

Brandon Stewart leaves Kevin Evans in his wake

Brandon Stewart leaves Kevin Evans in his wake
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 19 of 26

Max Knox decides to respond and blows the field to pieces

Max Knox decides to respond and blows the field to pieces
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 20 of 26

Max Knox powers away from a tiring Brandon Stewart

Max Knox powers away from a tiring Brandon Stewart
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 21 of 26

Adrien Niyonshuti

Adrien Niyonshuti
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 22 of 26

Adrien Niyonshuti and Brandon Stewart work together to close on Brandon Stewart and take third and fourth

Adrien Niyonshuti and Brandon Stewart work together to close on Brandon Stewart and take third and fourth
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 23 of 26

Adrien Niyonshuti and David George chase hard to fight out the remaining top 5 positions

Adrien Niyonshuti and David George chase hard to fight out the remaining top 5 positions
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 24 of 26

Overlooking Alberta Falls Dam

Overlooking Alberta Falls Dam
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 25 of 26

Some locals in rural Zululand look on as Max Knox powers away

Some locals in rural Zululand look on as Max Knox powers away
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
Image 26 of 26

Brandon Stewart faded near the end after expending too much energy to come back from a puncture

Brandon Stewart faded near the end after expending too much energy to come back from a puncture
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)

By outsprinting Kevin Evans (Nedbank360Life) to win the MTN Hilton Dirt Fest on Sunday, Max Knox (Specialized) clinched an overall victory in the MTN National MTB Series.

It was definitely one of the best races of the series. It could be compared to a boxing match on wheels with Knox, the aggressor, continuing to dish out punishment and Evans simply refusing to give up. Even though Evans took some real strain, he never stopped chasing down a determined Knox.

Afterwards Knox graciously praised Evans for the way he raced. "I expected it to be a tough race, and Kevin did not disappoint me. In the end, I had to race smart to beat him." According to Knox, nothing much happened during the first 40 kilometres.

"There was a big group of us riding at a steady, hard pace. Some tactical moves were initiated but none of them succeeded. I made my first attack with 40 kilometres to go. I think I caught everybody off guard when I accelerated on one of the straight flat sections.

"I managed to open quite a comfortable lead and Kevin had to work hard to catch up with me. When we were level, I attacked again. Kevin could not keep up, so I was on my own out in front once again. The time gap between us hovered around 25 seconds all the time."

Evans admitted that he suffered. "I was close to giving up, but I persisted and slowly clawed my way back to him just after the second tech zone. Once I had caught him, I was adamant to stay there, and we exchanged a few 'blows'."

Knox and Evans admitted that, when going into the last 10 kilometre lap, both of them knew that the race would be decided by a sprint to the line. Just before the finish they had to race through a tight corner. The slippery and muddy conditions complicated matters. That was where the race was destined to be won or lost.

Evans went to inspect the corner before the race in order to decide what the best line of action would be. Unfortunately for him, when he reached the corner spectators were standing exactly where he was planning to ride.

"I lost the race in that split second because Max shot through on my inside and there was no way for me to catch up again." Knox said he knew that it was important to be the first rider through the corner.

"I timed it just perfectly."

Not surprisingly, Evans was disappointed with the way in which the race ended. "It is not easy to accept that I have lost a whole series because of one corner of a race. But I can take some comfort from the way in which my racing has improved over the past few weeks.

"My main focus is to be at my best at the UCI Marathon World Championship which will take place two weeks from now in Ornans, France. If I use Max as a benchmark, it seems as if I am steadily improving.

"In the MTN Gravel Travel Max beat me by more than 12 minutes. At the Hill2Hill, the time gap between us was down to three minutes and now, a week later, it is down to mere seconds."

Evans predicts that there is an excellent chance that, between him, Knox, David George and Nico Bell, they will get three top-ten finishes at the world championship.

Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN-Qhubeka) beat George (Nedbank360Life) in a sprint to finish third in the MTN Hilton Dirt Fest.

Knox was full of praise for the course that was designed by the organizers of the MTN Hilton Dirt Fest. "I would put money on it that everybody who competed will describe their racing experience as exciting. The muddy conditions made for some tricky and challenging riding, but it was doable and most enjoyable."

Neethling wins women's marathon

South African Olympian Candice Neethling won the women's 75km event in four hours and 36 minutes. She beat Theresa Ralph by four minutes and Nedene Cahill by 13 minutes.

Neethling is the first to admit that she surprised even herself. "I have been battling ever since the Olympic Games in London. I was just so tired, emotionally as well as physically, but Sunday everything suddenly clicked into place, enabling me to ride a near perfect race.

"The fact that I have changed my race strategy has probably helped. In the past I used to set off at a very fast pace, which was the reason why I often faded quite badly towards the end of the race.

"This time I was more conservative. During the first 40 or so kilometres I just made sure that I stayed with Theresa (Ralph).

"When I realized that my legs were good, I made my move and managed to open a gap. I was lucky that I experienced no mechanical problems and did not get lost like I did during the Hill2Hill the previous week."

Neethling will also compete in the MTN Ride Crater Cruise in Parys for the first time.

"I think I am strong enough now to race 100 kilometres. I don't know what to expect at the Crater Cruise. From what I have heard it is like a road race on dirt roads, which means that everybody will be racing faster than they normally would."

According to Neethling her participation at the London Olympics was "a totally awesome experience".

"I am so glad that I had this opportunity. I have learned much from racing against the world's best and I am sure that this experience will help me to become a better rider. I would love to represent South Africa at the 2016 Games in Brazil as well."

Neethling said she has begun to study. "When I have completed by studies, I will have a BSc degree in psychology and sociology. Even though I enjoy my studies, cycling remains my main priority at the moment."

The Crater Cruise will serve as the final round of the MTN South African National Marathon Series.

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Max Knox4:20:38
2Kevin Evans0:00:01
3Adrien Niyonshuti0:02:40
4Dave George0:02:43
5Brandon Stewart0:04:16
6Gawie Combrinck0:06:37
7Nico Bell0:08:16
8Darren Lill0:28:10
9Greig Knox0:29:49
10Chris Wolhuter0:31:22
11Bradley Stroberg0:36:31
12Hilton Frost0:41:05
13Guylin van den Berg0:46:54
14Michael Mc Dermott1:04:43
15martin davies1:14:41
16Waleed Baker2:03:59

Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Candice Neethling4:00:36
2Amy Mcdougall0:14:47
3Ashleigh Parker-Moffatt0:37:00
4Andrea de Boer0:57:18
5Jane Swarbreck1:08:48
6Nicolene van der Sandt1:20:47
7Didi Francis1:36:27
8Catherine Jenkins2:27:40
DNFAngela Egeland
DNFAriane Kleinhans
DNFSarah Heslop
DNFSamantha Sanders

 

Latest on Cyclingnews