A line up that consisted of top local pro riders and multiple World Champion and Olympic medallist, Christoph Sauser didn’t deter Team RECM’s Erik Kleinhans today, showing sheer skill and determination to clinch the number-one spot. He took a significant lead within the first 10 minutes of the start gun at Le Bonheur Wine Estate, breaking away to leave the first batch of riders in the dust. With some incredible racing, Team EAI’s Johann Rabie took second place while Team RECM’s Nico Bell secured the final podium spot.
Winning in a record time of 02:12:54 at the 14th annual MTB Challenge, Erik Kleinhans was thrilled at his first place. “It’s always great to be at this event, it’s a favourite of mine every year. I won this race a few years ago, but this year is very special to win it again with Ariane winning the ladies race too.”
Commenting on the riding, Erik Kleinhans adds, “It was quite aggressive from the front with Johann Rabie. We were leading from the beginning with big guys chasing us, but we managed to stay away for a long time. Towards the end I got a small gap at the last single track section which helped me to come out in front. I’m super happy to take the victory today.”
Conquering over 1 350m of climbing, the ladies event was a tough race between Team RECM Swiss rider, Ariane Kleinhans and Swedish national champion, Jennie Stenerhag (Team Ascendis). With nearly five minutes to spare, Ariane Kleinhans came out on top, completing the 55km route in an impressive time of 02:32:28. Team Velocity Sports Lab’s Carmen Buchacher from Austria took third place, making the ladies category an international affair this year.
With perfect racing conditions and temperatures reaching 29 degrees Celsius, Ariane Kleinhans was ecstatic at defending her title and praised the specially crafted routes. “It was a fast start today and the men went really hard from the get-go. I tried to stay with them as long as possible, and when I reached the single track I could open up a nice gap. This is always a great race and the route has improved so much over the years with more single track and flowy sections, making it very enjoyable to ride,” she says.
The 38km route provided superb mountain biking trails through the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy in Stellenbosch. Edward Boshoff was crowned the winner, followed closely by second place Danie le Roux, and Johann Trotzky in third.
Allison Morton took first place in the ladies 38km category, while Amy Burton finished in a close second, followed by Marie Heatlie.
Described as “challenging, entertaining and rewarding” by commentator, Paul Kaye, over 2 500 riders lined up to tackle the long MTB Challenge routes, which were designed and built by route co-ordinator, Meurant Botha of Dirtopia. The 2015 race saw the introduction of new scenic and shady areas for riders, as well as an increased amount of single track – the most in the history of the event.
David Bellairs, a Director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust who organises the annual event, said the 2015 race was a resounding success and the venue and routes had continued to impress riders. “It was fantastic to see the competitors taking on the tough, hot and windy conditions today, and seemingly embracing the great new routes that have been added to last year’s events. A huge thank you must go to the entire team at the events office that put together this wonderful festival of mountain biking.”
55km Men 1st: Erik Kleinhans (Team RECM) – 02:12:54
55km Men 2nd: Johann Rabie (Team EAI) – 02:12:55
55km Men 3rd: Nico Bell (Team RECM) – 02:14:52
55km Ladies 1st: Ariane Kleinhans (Team RECM) – 02:32:28
55km Ladies 2nd: Jennie Stenerhag (Team Ascendis) – 02:37:45
55km Ladies 3rd: Carmen Buchacher (Team Velocity Sports Lab) – 02:49:18
38km Men 1st: Edward Boshoff – 01:50:36
38km Men 2nd: Danie le Roux – 01:51:13
38km Men 3rd: Johann Trotzky – 01:53:34
38km Ladies 1st: Allison Mouton – 02:15:44
38km Ladies 2nd: Amy Burton – 02:15:54
38km Ladies 3rd: Marie Heatlie – 02:22:05