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Reid and Last lead the way at SA XCO Cup Series
- Updated: January 31, 2016
National champion James Reid of Team Spur claimed the Pro-elite Men’s victory in emphatic style at the opening round of the 2016 SA XCO Cup Series in Mpumalanga on Saturday, while British national champion Annie Last (Novus OMX Pro Team) won the Pro-elite Women’s race by more than three minutes.
Over 260 riders lined up for the start of the opening cross-country race of the season at a hot, dry and windy course at Mankele MTB Park.
A multi-national race ensued in the Pro-elite categories with representation from European and African countries, such as Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Great Britain, Uganda, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Mauritius.
In command of the race from the get-go, Reid, pictured above, clocked the fastest time on his opening lap of eight in a time of 11min 06sec.
Hot on his heels were Arno du Toit and Philip Buys (both Scott Factory Racing powered by LCB) and Alan Hatherly and Brendon Davids (both Kargo Pro MTB Team), who continued to jostle for the top five positions in the first five laps.
Reid and Hatherly pushed the pace, breaking away from the group and creating a cushion to Buys by about 40 seconds, with Reid further extending his lead from Hatherly in the final laps to eventually take the victory in 1:32:19.
Reid said: ‘The race was good with very aggressive bunch racing in the first two laps and the guys were throwing the punches early on. The biggest challenge was the traffic from the Junior race. Midway through the sixth lap, Alan and I ended up in a tangle with a junior rider and he went over the bars.
‘This is where the separation happened. He’s a fantastic rider and I was expecting a fight at the end. I’m happy to kick the season off with the win because there’s a lot of racing and high stakes this season. It’s exciting to be part of it!’
Hatherly finished second in 1:32:40 with Buys third (1:34:28) and Du Toit and Davids rounding out the podium in 1:35:34 and 1:36:12 respectively.
Four-time British Elite champion and Olympian, Last claimed the women’s victory over Kargo Pro MTB Team’s Frankie du Toit and Novus OMX teammate and Commonwealth Games rider Mariske Strauss.
Last delivered a ‘conservative’ opening lap of 12min 47sec and then consistently delivered 13-minute lap times to open a lead of over three minutes.
Last said: ‘January is still early in the season for me to race but I really enjoyed it. I felt strong and came away with a win, which is great! I was certainly mindful of overheating and rode the opening laps a little conservatively to ensure that I didn’t mess up the rest of the race.
‘The course was really good, with some nice smooth recovery sections, some steep climbs and some great singletrack and descents.’
Reigning SA XCO women’s champion Cherie Vale could only manage fifth spot on the day after health problems the day prior to the race.
She told Road to Rio 2016’s Mark Etheridge: ’I just didn’t have the energy to race fast after throwing up for most of the day before. But at least it’s still the beginning of the season.
‘Now there’s a WP race on 13 Feb but the next SA cup is on 27 Feb at Helderberg farm. Super excited for that one. It has some decent climbing which I prefer.
‘I’ll keep positive. I got a a lot of support yesterday and was reminded why I do the sport.’
The Junior Men and Women opened their UCI points’ tally for the UCI Junior World Series, with Reinhard Zellhuber and Kristen Louw putting the first points on the board in their respective categories. Over 40 Junior Men lined up on the start line, which opened the way for a frenetic race.
Round Two of the SA XCO Cup Series will be hosted by Helderberg Farm in Somerset West.
Summary of Results
Pro-Elite Men (eight laps)
1 James Reid 01:32:19
2 Alan Hatherly 01:32:40
3 Philip Buys 01:34:28
4 Arno Du Toit 01:35:34
5 Brendon Davids 01:36:12
6 Marco Joubert 01:37:29
7 Marc Fourie 01:38:02
8 Jan Withaar 01:38:03
9 Julian Jessop 01:39:57
10 Stuart Marais 01:40:37
Pro-Elite Women (six laps)
1 Annie Last (GBR) 01:20:47
2 Frankie du Toit 01:23:52
3 Mariske Strauss 01:27:19
4 Bianca Haw 01:28:41
5 Cherie Vale 01:30:00
6. Hayley Smith 01:30:05
7 Genevieve Van Coller 01:34:17
8 Candice Neethling 01:36:38