Jeep Team’s Thomas van Tonder and Dominique D'Oliveira performed with distinction against fierce competition at Race#4 of the Jeep Warrior Series on 3 May, both securing 2nd place podium finishes in the respective Black Ops Elite men’s and women’s races. Round 4 of the series was held for the first time at the Hakahana Trails in Gauteng, attracting a record-breaking field of elite athletes as the sport grows in popularity across South Africa. Van Tonder finished just three seconds behind the Elite Men’s winner, Claude Eksteen, with Greg Avierinos in 3rd. Jeep Team’s Jay Jay Deysel finished 5th. Jetaime Ribbink claimed the Elite Women’s title with Hanneke Dannhauser in 3rd. Said D'Oliveira: “The Jeep Warrior Race #4 proved to be yet another exciting event in the Black Ops Elite category with fast running and close finishes among the men and ladies. The standard of racing in the elite category is becoming increasingly competitive and we find ourselves training harder and racing faster for that top spot on the podium.” The team’s trail runner, Claudia Richard, competed in the Commando Elite Warrior, taking an impressive win in the women’s race. Other Jeep Team results: Wings for Life World Run Jeep Team’s celebrity athlete, Hlubi Mboya, faced a slightly different weekend challenge to her usual OCR events, competing in the phenomenal Wings for Life World Run in Cape Town to raise funds for research into finding a cure for spinal cord injury. This unique event took place in 35 locations across the world, with each race starting at precisely the same time (11am GMT). The race has no finish line; instead runners are followed by a “Catcher Car”, with the eventual winner being the last person to be ‘caught’ by the car. Mboya clocked a distance of 15.94km before she was caught by the ‘catcher’, placing 16th in her category. Paddling On Sunday (3 May), Jeep Team’s multiple-world champion paddler, Hank McGregor, was in fine form in Durban at the . . .
More than 3 000 road cyclists are expected to turn out for the inaugural Bestmed Capital Classic in Centurion, which kicks off the road component of the Bestmed National Cycling Series on Sunday, May 17. Starting at SuperSport Park, the classic is the first of six road and seven mountain bike events that will from part of the new series. Organisers of the 100km road race said they believed it had the potential to become the Jacaranda City's largest – and safest – mass participation cycling event. According to race organiser Darren Herbst, the event presented a rare opportunity to ride the N14 freeway, which is usually out of bounds to cyclists. "I'm sure many cyclists have driven along this road and thought it would be a pretty cool thing to ride to Krugersdorp and back," said Herbst. "We really hope that giving cyclists the chance to cycle this route, which they would never ordinarily be allowed to do, will make it something special." He said the concept had been in development over the past four years but that it had all come together in the last 10 months. "Putting this event together has been a massive logistical task and we've had to get the cooperation of a number of area, local, cluster, regional, provincial and national government departments." These include Sanral and the traffic and police services. Herbst said safety was their primary concern and that the closure of the right-hand lane to traffic would promote their efforts in this regard. "We'll be marking the route off with over 2 000 cones, which we hope will help the cyclists feel safe." In addition, he said, more than 100 marshals and the same number of traffic officers would do duty along the course, which features nine turns and then a long, straight run. "We'll also have at least 40 motorbikes and 20 vehicles patrolling the course. Herbst said the undulating route would test riders regardless of their fitness levels and could prove to be a little more . . .
Top South African rower Athenkosi Hlekani has been appointed as the new assistant coach of the University of Johannesburg's rowing team for the 2015/16 season. The Port Alfred native, who commenced his coaching duties last month, said that he was excited to be leading a group of motivated and hardworking athletes. "Their attitude has changed the dynamics of the club and has made it competitive again," said the former UJ captain. The 25-year-old said that the club was in the best shape the university had ever seen. "There are proper structures in place and the vibe among the athletes is amazing. It is almost a different club," he said. Hlekani's leadership abilities first caught the spotlight when he was selected to go to the Youth World Leadership camp, hosted by the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), in Doha in Qatar three years ago. Founder of the Nemato Change a Life youth empowerment organisation Jan Blom, through whom he learned to row, put in an application on his behalf and after two interviews Hlekani was chosen for the international course. "It was a huge honour and privilege to take part in a camp which brings youth leaders from different parts of the world together," said Hlekani. "It was an opportunity for participants to share ideas and experiences of how sport has had an impact on their lives and how it can be used to help others," he said. Hlekani, who comes from a disadvantaged background and received a full sports scholarship to UJ, said being chosen for the UNOSDP course first put him on the path to his coaching career. While completing his undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications at UJ, he was selected to coach a crew for the U16 SASRU development squad. After graduating, Hlekani was recruited by Jeppe High School as their junior rowing coach, which later evolved into the position of head of rowing. Wanting to learn more about coaching at tertiary level, he grabbed his latest . . .
Addo is gearing up to welcome more than 140 mountain bikers from across South Africa for the second edition of the three-day PwC Great Zuurberg Trek, which is based at the Zuurberg Mountain Village near Port Elizabeth on May 29. The two-person teams will explore a 200km route that covers the Sundays River Valley and mountains to the north and south of the race village and includes sections of the Addo Elephant National Park. Race organiser Rob Hayter said his route building team had been hard at work to get the singletrack for this boutique event into perfect shape after recent rains in the area. "All the rain has ensured that our usually dry Addo area is looking beautiful. Preparations are going well and all will be ready for a great event." With participants expected from as far afield as Potchefstroom, Cape Town and Gauteng, Hayter said they would get a taste of true Eastern Cape mountain biking, which was often overlooked in favour of the major centres. "There is still time for riders from other provinces and cities to join us for a challenging ride but one that is not unduly hard, with lots of comfort and relaxation built in." To this end, he said organisers had introduced a popular luxury safari tent stay to accommodate the overflow of riders from the four-star hotel, which would be home to the event for the weekend of the race. "Almost 20 per cent of our entries are mixed teams this year, so it's very pleasing to see more ladies riding and couples enjoying a relaxing weekend break together." Hayter said the daily distances had been reduced to provide a more accessible challenge for riders. "Stage one is now 70km with a total ascent of around 1 500m and we've built two new bridges to eliminate some compulsory portages." He said the 77km queen stage on day two, which featured 1 900m of climbing, had also been altered slightly due to storm damage. "We've removed the zigzag that everybody feared, smoothed the tracks and added an . . .
With a date change to avoid the worst of the Gauteng winter chill, entries for a warmer Bestmed Walkerville MTB Classic are now open. The event, which rolls out on May 23 instead of its traditional July timeslot, also kicks off the new Bestmed National Cycling Series, incorporating a range of mountain bike and road events under one ranking and seeding system. According to race director Darren Herbst, Walkerville was the ideal choice for the first off-road race of the series. "To have a successful national series, you not only need a variety of venues and areas but also some special events. "Adding Walkerville to the selected list of events in the ASG stable is really fantastic. It's fast, challenging and sets the bar from the outset – I think this event is a great fit." Herbst said this year's new-look event would feature a number of innovations – including a new venue, new 80km ultramarathon distance, and himself as new race director. "I've been involved with Walkerville for two years and this year I was given the chance to start from scratch and take it up a notch." He said the ultramarathon would replace the current marathon distance, as riders had been asking for a longer and more challenging race for some time. "Being forced to make so many changes and look for new routes due to development in the area, we decided it was the ideal opportunity to give the guys what they want." Despite the extra 20 kilometres, Herbst said he and his route-building team had carefully reviewed the elevation and surrounding terrain and had worked hard to make it accessible to the seasoned 60km participant. "The enforced omission of the Platberg climb was a disappointment but I think having the chance to explore new areas makes up for it. "An extra 20 kilometres is a long way in anyone's book but I really feel that the guys who are used to the challenging old route will handle it. It's undulating but doable." Herbst said the testing new feature . . .
Two Oceans half marathon winner Lebogang Phalula will be aiming to keep the SPAR Women's Challenge 10km title in the family when the Port Elizabeth race takes place at Pollok Beach on Saturday, May 9. The Transnet athlete and her twin sister, defending champion Diana-Lebo, will engage in some friendly sibling rivalry as they vie for the second leg of the national SPAR Grand Prix Series. "The series is the biggest event of the year and it's my turn to win it," said Lebogang. Her sister has twice won the Eastern Cape edition – first in 2011, and again in record-breaking time last year en route to the overall series victory. Diana-Lebo's time of 32:27 was the fastest Women's Challenge win in the history of the national event. "We're both looking forward to this year's race and she's helping me with my training and technique to try and break her record," said Lebogang. "That was a fast time but I'm going to try and beat it." The 32-year-old said although the fast and flat course played to her strengths, the PE wind would always be a factor. "I do love a flat course but if there's wind it's going to be difficult for me because I don't have the power to push against it." The elite athlete will face stiff competition from the likes of Mapaseka Makhanya, who set a new record in the first race in Cape Town to lead the series on points. Lebogang, who is currently second in the standings behind Makhanya, said however that she would not focus too much on her rivals but rather on the clock. "I run against time not against anyone." If anything, she said, she performed better when she was running alongside her sister. "I feel more comfortable and enjoy my race more when I'm with her. I love her so much – she's my best friend." The identical pair, who hail from Diepkloof in Soweto, are usually distinguishable by their footwear or lack thereof. "I have a running shoe sponsor that helps me with everything but my sister says she feels light . . .
Madibaz vice-captain CJ Velleman will be winging his way to Argentina this week for the Junior Springboks' warm-up tour ahead of the World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy in June. Velleman will be hoping to make an impression during the two-match series in Rosario from May 8 to 16 in an effort to earn his spot in the final squad for world champs. The open-side flanker had a stellar start to the season with consistent performances in the FNB Varsity Cup tournament, which earned him the runner-up spot in the overall Player that Rocks competition. Velleman was then invited to the national trials in Stellenbosch in March, after which he was one of 37 players asked to return for a second training camp in April. The quantity-surveying student was also part of the squad that beat the Varsity Cup Dream Team 31-24 in a friendly encounter last month. "I was really excited but at the same time pretty nervous because it's an unbelievable opportunity and you only get one chance to not mess it up," said Velleman. "It was one of my proudest moments being able to pull the Bok jersey over my head. "I hope to remain a permanent fixture in the squad, but for now I am just aiming to make it to the final 28 for the World Cup," said Velleman. After the South American tour, the young forward will join the Eastern Province under-21 side for the Currie Cup season. "If it's anything like last year's under-19 division then it's going to be a really exciting time." The 20-year-old said he had had a rugby ball in his hands since he could remember and had played the sport throughout his school year. "Every rugby player's dream is to run out for the Boks one day but for now I just want to focus on doing my best to secure my spot in the baby Bok touring squad. "I would also like to advance as far as I can within the Kings system with the hopes of getting a senior cap before leaving the academy." Author: Coetzee Gouws from Full Stop Communications. More Info . . .
Gawie Combrinck and Johann Rabie look set for a second straight victory in the nine-day Old Mutual joBerg2c after consolidating their more than 19-minute lead on the penultimate stage through southern KwaZulu-Natal on Friday. The defending champions plunged into the Umkomaas River Valley and powered their way out the other side to claim their fifth stage win for EAI Cycling in 4:04:37. They bested Altech Autopage Karan Beef's Hanco Kachelhoffer and Pieter Seyffert in a two-team sprint to relegate them to the runner-up spot in 4:04:38. Stage one winners Sthembiso Masango and Mboneni Ngcobo of the RMB Change a Life team finished third on the day in 4:11:42. After eight stages, the top two teams remain in the corresponding positions in the general classification with aggregate times of 31:50:25 and 32:09:40 respectively. The Gear Change's David George and Justin Tuck suffered mechanicals to slide into fourth on the stage in 4:12:22 and third on GC in 32:23:13. Having lost their overall lead on this stage last year, Combrinck and Rabie made a more cautious start to the 99km route from MacKenzie Club near Ixopo to Jolivet Farm in the Highflats region. Combrinck said they knew it would be a long technical day, which featured a total descent of 2 163m and more than 1 705m of climbing. "We had some bad luck last year, so this year we pulled a bit more on the brakes coming down the Umkomaas and didn't take any risks." Solo category stage winner Nico Pfitzenmaier led the charge through heavy mist, with all contenders present in the eight-rider lead bunch as they swept through the singletrack sections and switchbacks towards the valley floor. The Gear Change duo lost 30 seconds on the leaders when George punctured at the 25km mark and were forced to chase back as they headed for the first waterpoint at St Josephine's Bridge on the valley floor. "We were quite a big group climbing back out again," said Combrinck. George and Tuck fell off the . . .
It was a battle of the former roadies as Hanco Kachelhoffer and Pieter Seyffert outsprinted their rivals to take the stage win on day seven of the Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race on Thursday. The Altech Autopage Karan Beef pair hung on in a tight run into the finish at MacKenzie Club near Ixopo to claim the win over 79km in 2:58:09. Multiple national time-trial champion David George and teammate Justin Tuck of The Gear Change were second on the day in 2:58:13, while race leaders Johann Rabie and Gawie Combrinck of EAI Cycling came in for third a further second back. Rabie and Combrinck now take a commanding 19-minute lead (27:45:48) into the penultimate stage of the 900km race. Kachelhoffer and Seyffert move into second overall (28:05:02) in the absence of overnight runners-up Tyronne White and Andrew Hill. The Avis Van Rental duo was forced out of the race after White sustained a knee injury in a crash on Wednesday. Third place in the general classification now belongs to George and Tuck (28:10:51). "This stage is always so fast and I think everyone looks forward to seeing how fast they can go on the flowing singletracks, so we knew it would come down to a bunch sprint," said Kachelhoffer. "Luckily, today Pieter and I had good legs into the finish." In the other racing categories, some leads changed hands while others extended their already substantial time gaps. There was an upset in the mixed category as Seattle Coffee's Billy Stelling and Carmen Buchacher stormed through the singletrack trails ahead of overnight leaders, an under-the-weather Samantha Sanders and teammate Justin Victor of Valencia Cycling. Stelling and Buchacher finished first on the stage in 3:09:49 to slip into the overall lead in 31:21:43 – a full five-and-a-half minutes ahead of Sanders and Victor. "I rode with the second group through the Oak Lane dual track and my plan had been to wait for Carmen and give her a hand up the hill on the Red Bull Run," . . .
Defending champions Johann Rabie and Gawie Combrinck delivered another workmanlike performance to all but seal their victory on day six of the Old Mutual joBerg2c near Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday. The EAI Cycling pair took their fourth consecutive stage win on the 97km route from Nottingham Road to Glencairn Farm in the shadow of Sani Pass to extend their overall lead to more than 18 minutes. Rabie and Combrinck cruised into the finish in a time of 4:17:47, just 38 seconds clear of The Gear Change's David George and Justin Tuck, with Hanco Kachelhoffer and Pieter Seyffert of Altech Autopage Karan Beef third in 4:20:57. After the mountainous stage, which saw riders ascend Snow Top Mountain – the highest point on the nine-day route – the leaders retained their similarly lofty spot in the standings with an aggregate time of 24:47:34. Despite crashing heavily, Avis Van Rental's Tyronne White and partner Andrew Hill still managed to place fourth on the stage in 4:22:37 to remain second in the general classification in 25:05:47. Kachelhoffer and Seyffert rounded out the overall podium in 25:06:53. Heavy mist dampened the start of the day's racing from Clifton Preparatory School but after an enforced 10km neutral zone the four teams quickly broke away. They stayed together as they headed for the foothills of the southern Drakensberg until White crashed with 20km to go on the aptly named Face Plantation stretch. "We were coming down off the top of Winterhoek after the second waterpoint and as we reached the tribal land area Tyronne got on the wrong side of David when he swerved to avoid a rutted section and landed rather heavily," said Hill. Their three rival teams initially sat up but then decided to make the most of White and Hill's misfortunes as they headed up the last technical climb on the Red Bull Run. Rabie lifted the pace on the ascent to shake Kachelhoffer and Seyffert before the final two-team chase towards the . . .