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- It’s 50 medals for SA at African Championships
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Zellhuber and Fourie take Sani Dragon title
- Updated: October 2, 2016
Two faultless days’ racing by Reinhard Zellhuber and Marc Fourie, including a determined effort up the iconic Sani Pass on Saturday, handed the talented young mountain biking pair consecutive stage victories and saw them crowned 2016 Fedauto Sani Dragon in association with Mortimer Toyota champions.
The win comes as a maiden stage race success for Kokstad’s Zellhuber and Bloemfontein’s Fourie both individually and as a combination – a partnership the Fedauto duo hope will continue to blossom after such a positive beginning this weekend.
‘I’m really happy that Marc and I managed to take the win here!’ said 19 year-old Zellhuber. ‘We had to work together as a team quite a bit, keep motivating each and making sure that we didn’t look to push too hard, especially at the beginning.
‘Reinhard and I are both super competitive and usually try to kill each other out there when we’re racing against each other so it was a pleasure to ride with him and not against him for once,’ added 18 year-old Fourie.
‘Hopefully this is the beginning of something big for us and I think we’ll look to race together more in the future for sure.’
Having started day two with a handy two minute lead over their nearest rivals – Dream Team’s Hendrik Bester and Brennan Anderson – the previously untested Fedauto combination dug deep to overcome the testing second day’s route and keep their fellow title hopefuls at bay.
The event’s main attraction – the climb up to the finish line at the top of Sani Pass – presented the Fedauto pair with one of the tallest challenges of their fledgling careers however the youngsters charged on bravely to claim victory overall while Zellhuber clinched the King of the Mountains award as well.
‘The climb was pretty tough but the view from the top of Sani Pass is absolutely insane,’ said Zellhuber.
‘It was definitely one of my hardest days on a bicycle ever,’ agreed Fourie. ‘The stage is only 32km long but it really is brutal!’
‘Overall though, the area is just so beautiful and the Sani Dragon is one of the most beautiful events that I’ve ever done.
‘The trails we rode on during the first stage were amazing and then the view from the top of Sani Pass is incredible.’
Amanzimtoti’s Bester and Anderson gave it their all to as they attacked from the outset and opened a small gap on the overnight leaders early on.
They were however unable to match the exuberance of youth in the end though and having been reeled in shortly after reaching the dirt road at the start of the Sani Pass climb, ultimately had to settle for second place.
After two solid days of racing, Mielie & Wood’s Carel le Roux and Grant Underwood claimed the bottom step on the podium while Mortimer Toyota’s Chris van der Linde and Rowan Bernstein and In It To Finish It’s Ian Sayer and Andrew Glover finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Drop off Daisies’ Sarah Matcher and Rialette Kruger were unrivalled at the front of the women’s race while Cleats and Cleavage’s Retha and Gertjie Harmse took the mixed category’s overall honours.
In the Sani Dragon solo event HB Trading’s Grant Lavers extended his overnight lead to secure the men’s crown while Miroda Otto continued her supremacy to claim the women’s spoils.
‘This is my first real win so I’m really stoked!’ exuded 42-year-old Lavers from Kamberg.
‘I’m very chuffed, it was a lovely two days of riding and to get the Queen of the Mountains award was a nice little bonus too,’ added Umhlanga’s Otto, who hoped the climb up Sani Pass would help prepare her for The Pioneer stage race in New Zealand in February.
The shorter Sani Dragon Lite event saw Zellhuber’s younger brother, Heinrich and his Fedauto/Russell White team mate Ethan Kemp race to victory in the team category while Gregg McDonagh furthered his overnight lead to win the men’s title and a gutsy second stage effort by Melissa Abbey saw her surpass Shareen Snyman to clinch the women’s division.
Picture of Zellhuber and Fourie courtesy of Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media