When Charles Keey (Cannondale/Blend Properties) won the MTN Tulbagh marathon on Saturday, it was evident that he was a thinking man. He did the right thing at the right time. The 21-year-old Lourens Luus (RE:CM) was second and his teammate, Waylon Woolcock, finished third.
Keey's winning time for the 103km race was four hours, four minutes and 34 seconds. Luus crossed the line two minutes and 33 seconds later, with Woolcock a further two minutes adrift.
Jacques Rossouw (Ghost Factory Racing) and Gawie Combrinck (Westvaal/Bell Cycles) finished fourth and fifth respectively.
This was Keey's second consecutive victory in the MTN National MTB Series. He was also victorious in Sabie. With a little bit of luck, he could have won the MTN Barberton marathon as well.
Keey raced from the front for the greater part of the race, but then made one mistake which resulted in him going down hard. However, even though he dropped back to the 18th position, he refused to give up. He got back on his bike and raced like never before to finish third overall.
According to Keey, the battle to win in Tulbagh began in earnest at the second tech zone.
"While the rest of the riders stopped to swap their water bottles, Lourens and Waylon put in a cheeky effort.
"When I looked up and saw the pair of them 100m ahead, realizing that the King of the Mountains Prime was at 60km, I quickly gave chase on the climb. It was easy to see who had legs on the day. As the climb became steeper, I kept the pressure on and opened up a small gap to take the prime. Lourens and Waylon were just behind me.
"When we regrouped on the rocky jeep track, I realized that one of us would win.
"I bided my time. With 30km to go, as we started on the second last climb of the day, I put in an effort and dropped the duo. From then on the challenge was to stay focused and concentrate on keeping mistakes to a minimum, while also increasing my lead over Lourens."
Keey was full of praise for the role played by doctor Jeroen Swart in his success.
"I must admit that I am having a good year and it is really thanks to Jeroen. If you don't have somebody looking over your shoulder, you tend to ride into a hole quite easily. You need somebody to tell you when to back off a bit."
Luus unashamedly admitted that he had tears in his eyes when he crossed the line in second place. "This is without doubt the best result of my career. I impressed even myself. It was definitely an eye opener for me and I know now what I am capable of if I put my mind to it.
"I was pleased when I finished second at Attakwas, but that was still early in the year and not everybody was racing fit yet.
"I think I was probably the youngest rider in the race."
According to Luus, he was in two minds when he was dropped by Keey on the climb. "Part of me wanted to dig deeper and try to stay with Charles, but I also realized that I needed a slight breather at that stage. "Charles actually rode a very clever race. When he noticed that I was tired, he upped the tempo ever so slightly to put pressure on me.
"Because Charles also seemed tired and I was hoping to catch up with him before the finish, but he refused to allow his body to dictate to him to slow down."
Ariane Kleinhans (RE:CM) won the women's 74km race in three hours, 17 minutes and 21 seconds, with Theresa Ralph second in 3:20:03 and Robyn de Groot third in 3:22:35.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team|
|1||Charles Keey (Cannondale/Blend Properties)|
|2||Lourens Luus (RE:CM)|
|3||Waylon Woolcock (RE:CM)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team|
|1||Ariane Kleinhans (RE:CM)|
|3||Robyn de Groot third in 3:22:35.|
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