Max Knox and Nico Bell held onto their overnight lead to claim overall victory in the three-day Nedbank sani2c mountain bike race that finished on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast on Saturday. Riding in the colours of EAI-Westvaal, the pair finished fourth on the 80km final stage from Highflats to Scottburgh to claim the victors’ laurels in an aggregate time of 9:44:50. It was Knox’s second win in the world’s largest fully serviced stage race, which is presented by Nedbank Private Wealth. Defending champion Kevin Evans won the final stage alongside FedGroup-Itec team-mate Gawie Combrinck in 2:45:16. They were followed home by RE:CM’s Waylon Woolcock and Lourens Luus in 2:47:59, with Brandon Stewart and Neil MacDonald rounding out the podium for FedGroup-Itec a further second back. In the overall standings, Stewart and MacDonald claimed the runners-up spot in 9:46:19, with Contego-Giant’s Louis-Bresler Knipe and Gert Heyns third in 9:49:02. Bell, who currently leads the MTN marathon series ahead of Knox, said he and his sometime adversary were currently both on good form and riding well together. “We weren’t really going for the stage win today, we just wanted to take the win overall. But we wanted to make it hard from the start, so we rode away slightly in the beginning.” The Mpumalanga-based riders kept a steady pace but by the first waterpoint, 23km in, all the main contenders were back together. “And then FedGroup-Itec put in a lot of work because they wanted to set it up for their second team (Evans and Combrinck),” said Bell. “We just had to make sure that Brandon and Neil didn’t ride away so we just sat on their wheel all day. We were happy for the other guys to go up the road because they were still 12 or so minutes behind us.” The top teams worked together through Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve and past the second waterpoint at 58km. Then, with 20km to go, Evans and Combrinck made their break along the railway track. “I . . .
Max Knox and Nico Bell mastered slippery conditions to win the decisive second stage and take the overall lead of the Nedbank sani2c mountain bike race in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday. After crashing early on the descent into the Umkomaas River Valley, the mud-spattered EAI-Westvaal riders powered their way back to claim the 99km stage from MacKenzie Club near Ixopo to Jolivet farm in the Highflats region. They crossed the finish line first in 4:09:36, almost a minute-and-a-half ahead of second-placed Brandon Stewart and Neil MacDonald of FedGroup-Itec (4:11:01). Early leaders Louis-Bresler Knipe and Gert Heyns of Contego-Giant trailed them home in 4:13:23. An on-form Bell and Knox, who are currently lying first and second in the MTN marathon series, moved from fourth to first in the overall standings with an aggregate time of 6:56:49. Stewart and MacDonald, who were fifth in the general classification, moved into the runner-up spot for a combined time of 6:58:19, while Knipe and Heyns slipped from second to third overall in 7:00:34. Overnight leaders Charles Keey and Darren Lill dropped out of contention completely after mechanical problems put paid to their chances. Faced with over 2 200m of descending, Knipe and Heyns threw caution to the wind as they set a blistering pace early on and flew towards the valley floor. By the time they reached the first waterpoint alongside the St Josephine’s bridge at the 38km mark, they had opened up an almost seven-minute lead on Bell and Knox. A further two minutes off the pace were Lill and Keey, Stewart and MacDonald, Woolcock and Luus (RE:CM) and Kevin Evans and Gawie Combrinck (FedGroup-Itec 2). While RE:CM and Cannondale-Blend fell back due to punctures, Stewart and MacDonald pulled clear of the remaining chasers to catch Bell and Knox on the climb out of the valley. The two teams worked together to close the gap on the leaders and by the second water table, at 65km, Knipe and Heyns’s lead had . . .
After a run of bad luck this season, Charles Keey and Darren Lill finally got the break they needed to claim the opening stage of the three-day Nedbank sani2c mountain bike race near Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday. The Cannondale-Blend duo timed it perfectly to hold off all contenders in a bunch sprint to the finish, taking the 87km stage from Underberg to MacKenzie Club in 2:47:10. They were followed home a second later by runners-up Louis-Bresler Knipe and Gert Heyns of Contego-Giant, with Waylon Woolcock and Lourens Luus of RE:CM behind them. “It’s really nice for Charles and I because we’ve both been sick and had a bad run at Epic and joBerg2c, so this win has been a long time coming,” said Lill. He said the presence of at least half a dozen strong teams upfront had made the racing a lot more tactical and the pace had varied accordingly. “It was a lot more like a road race, actually,” said the former national road champion. According to his team-mate Keey, who finished second last year alongside James Reid, the racing had split on the Oak Maze dual track within the first 12km. “It regrouped a bit after that and then we went into another bit of single track through the trees.” Climbing out of that section, the decisive move came on the tough View Climb – the highest point on the event. The top six teams – including Max Knox and Nico Bell (EIA-Westvaal), Brandon Stewart and Neil MacDonald (FedGroup-Itec), and Andrew Hill and Leeroy Emslie (TIB) – shook off the chasers as they powered up the ascent. They stayed together over the PG Bison floating bridge at the 30km mark and through both waterpoints, with Keey taking the lead into the final uphill drag to the finish. “We were positioned fairly well. Charles hit out at the right time, just as the hill crested, and kept it going all the way to the line,” said Lill. “I was just following the right wheels and I could see by the time we got to this grass finish that we were going . . .
Cape Argus champion Anriëtte Schoeman will make her first foray into serious mountain biking at the world’s largest fully serviced stage race, the 251km Nedbank sani2c, in KwaZulu-Natal from Thursday. The seven-time Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour winner and eight-time national road champion will take on the three-day race from Underberg to Scottburgh alongside another converted dirt roadie Gary Marescia. Riding in the colours of Aca Joe, for whom she is a brand ambassador, Schoeman said she was excited to fulfil a long-held ambition. “I’ve seriously been wanting to do sani2c since I got my mountain bike at the end of last year. I tried to get an entry but was too late, so I was thrilled when I got the news. “There are lots of stage races but I’ve always wanted to do sani2c because it’s such an awesome event and every seasoned mountain biker raves about it, so I thought I’d put it on my bucket list. I can’t wait to experience it myself.” When asked whether she would be aiming for a podium finish, the five-time 94.7 Cycle Challenge winner said she would be using the event to sharpen her off-road skills. “I think because this is my first mountain bike stage race I will just aim to learn from Gary and enjoy it. But my competitive nature might kick in at some point and it could turn into a race!” Schoeman, who has represented South Africa at both the Commonwealth and Olympic Games, said she enjoyed the thrill of mountain biking but still had much to learn. “I kind of enjoy crazy descents but my ‘let’s go down this hill as fast as possible and see what happens’ attitude doesn’t really count as a skill.” The Port Elizabeth resident said she found the discipline a very different challenge to road racing, which involves bunch-oriented riding. “In mountain biking there is absolutely no place to hide. You have to be physically strong and never get to rest or hide in the peloton. “I quite enjoy pushing myself, but I must admit mountain biking . . .
More than 800 of the Commonwealth’s finest chess players are expected to meet in Nelson Mandela Bay in July 2013 for the biggest money yet in a South African-hosted chess tournament. The tournament – to be held between July 2 and July 14, 2013 – has already attracted some of the country’s top chess players to The Boardwalk Hotel and Convention Centre on the Port Elizabeth beach-front. “It is the first time ever that South Africa's top male player, Kenny Solomon, the country’s best female player Melissa Greeff and the South African Olympiad team will be playing at the same time in an international South African event on a sponsored basis,” says Dr Brian van Zyl, convener Commonwealth and South African Open Chess Championship 2013. It will be the 19th prestigious Commonwealth Chess Championship 2013, and is open to chess players from any of the 54 Commonwealth member countries. “We are honoured that The Boardwalk was chosen as the preferred venue in South Africa to host this prestigious international event,” says The Boardwalk general manager Clifford Ngakane. “It will put the global spotlight on Nelson Mandela Bay. The hundreds of players and their support teams will create a mini boom for restaurants, hotels and Bed and Breakfasts for more than a week,” he says. The tournament will be run concurrently with the South African Open Chess Championship, the Nelson Mandela Bay Open Chess Championship and the South African Open Blitz Chess Championship. Prize money of R250 000 will “be spread over the largest number of recipients ever in South Africa,” says van Zyl. The organisers are also making it possible for the largest possible number of young South African players to be at the tournament. “This will be the first time ever in South Africa that 47 pick-up points nationally have been created to facilitate players and supporters' travelling arrangements to Nelson Mandela Bay,” “The local organising committee has already put plans in place to . . .
The legendary Zola Budd will be part of a field of nearly 20000 athletes to take to the road for the 2013 Comrades Marathon on Sunday, 2 June. Budd completed her first ever ultra-marathon last year alongside good friend and Comrades veteran Bruce Fordyce who finished his thirtieth race. The pair ran the last 25 kilometres of the race side by side to finish in a time of 8 hours 6 minutes and 9 seconds, which secured bronze medals for both. Running again this year in the colours of The Unlimited Running Club, Budd has now set her sights on a silver medal and is aiming to finish the gruelling 87km uphill race between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in under seven and a half hours. Budd ran her qualifying race for Comrades in Florida (USA) in December and finished the Jacksonville Marathon in a time of 2 hours and 55 minutes. At 47, Zola says that she is in better shape than last year and is confident that a silver medal finish is realistic due to the combination of her experience from the 2012 Comrades and her current level of training. “Doing Comrades last year has definitely influenced my training and race schedules for this year’s event. I’ve changed my training programme and have upped my mileage significantly as I’m much stronger now. As it is an up run this year, I’ve added very tedious hill sessions on the tread mill and have also included some serious track workouts,” said Budd, who does most of her training in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the United States, where she and her family have been living for the past five years. According to Budd, her training during the all-critical month of April has been far more consistent than last year. Judging from the excellent time of 79 minutes and 58 seconds she ran to win the North Myrtle Beach Divas half marathon, Budd’s stage is set for a great Comrades Marathon. Looking back at her first Comrades, Budd said that it was the hardest race she’d ever run in her life. The furthest she’d ever run before the . . .
Fresh from his success at the Old Mutual joBerg2c, Olympic gold medallist Matthew Brittain is set to be more than just a celebrity guest at the three-day RE:CM Knysna 200 mountain bike race next month. Brittain, who finished sixth overall alongside Rob Dormehl in the nine-day event, will once again team up with his fellow rower to take on the Garden Route race from June 7. The 26-year-old oarsman said he hoped his recent achievements on the bike meant that he would be taken seriously in the competitive stakes. “I would way rather be a racing snake than a celebrity guest! When I go slowly ‘for the fun of it’ I don’t really enjoy myself; to me it’s more fun to race a bit and go for it.” This year, he also notched up a 27th place finish in the Absa Cape Epic with Olympic team-mate James Thompson. Brittain said the Knysna race would be an interesting test, as he had only participated in the longer stage races. “I would guess the shorter distance would suit me better but I don’t have the experience to really know where I stand relative to the competition. “I know the terrain down there is incredibly steep so I will be bringing a granny gear and expect the legs to feel like they have done double the distance!” The Centurion resident said he was looking forward to riding the 200km route in and around the Knysna forest. “It will probably be muddy but the route will be spectacular with fantastic riding because it’s in the most beautiful part of our country and renowned for phenomenal trails.” He said Sedgefield farmer and trail builder Dormehl’s knowledge of the area could give their team a slight advantage. “This is Rob’s backyard and I couldn’t wish for a better partner to hit the hills down there with. “But a little knowledge is dangerous as it can lead us to focus on the wrong things. No amount of local knowledge will help us if we can’t compete physically in the actual race, so that’s where 99% of our attention must go.” Brittain . . .
Evan Binge of Fourways in Johannesburg became the first South African skateboarder to win a wildcard entry for the amateur contest at this year’s Maloof Money Cup skateboarding world championships. Binge pulled out all the stops and impressed the judges with his skills on the first stop of the Skateboarding for Hope tour at the Boogaloos Skate Park in Randburg. This community outreach initiative is a joint collaboration between the Northern Cape provincial government and Maloof Skateboarding with the financial backing of Anglo American’s Kumba Iron Ore. The road show promotes skateboarding as an easy, affordable and accessible sport as part of the run-up to the annual world championships event in Kimberley. The Maloof Money Cup skateboarding world championships presented by Kumba Iron Ore will be hosted in Kimberley in the Northern Cape is September and is widely considered to be the greatest skateboarding contest in the world and the only world championship event. The three-day skateboarding extravaganza showcases the pinnacle in global and local skateboarding talent. Over the next five months, the Skateboarding for Hope road show will travel throughout South Africa with retail partner Boogaloos to host skateboarding clinics, demonstrations and contests in key centres. In addition, the provincial government also stage a further series of activations in the deep rural areas of the Northern Cape Province. The events help to promote skateboarding as a sport and to identify emerging local skaters. For many children, the road show is their first exposure to the sport and it has touched the lives of thousands of youngsters to date. This year’s scintillating Skateboarding for Hope line-up will feature numerous activations nationwide outside of the Northern Cape, including three new large scale Grand Slam events in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. These new events are in answer to a tremendous demand for more large scale skateboarding events to service the . . .
Strong winds, rain and biting cold failed to deter thousands of runners from descending on the Port Elizabeth beachfront for the 20th instalment of the annual SPAR Women’s Challenge on Saturday. As the sun rose over the new race venue at Pollok beach in Summerstrand, a record 13 149 professional and amateur runners from around Nelson Mandela Bay and South Africa gathered at the starting line of the 10km and 5km races. In the latter, many men donned wigs, skirts and other female attire to run alongside their better halves. Zimbabwe’s Rutendo Nyahora, running for Nedbank AGN, took the 10km title in 33.09. She also won the Cape Town leg in March. Diana-Lebo Phalula from Maxed Elite CGA clocked 33:39 and Mapaseka Makhanya of Transnet ENG 34.06 to complete the podium. The top South African runners in the 10km SPAR Grand Prix series stand to win a total of R139 000 and a new car. The legs are in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban (June), Pretoria (August) and Johannesburg (October). “The weather didn’t affect my run much,” Nyahora said at the post-race media conference. “I was aiming to better my personal best of 32.55, but that didn’t happen because of the wind. “This was the best race for me in PE. I’m not 100% in shape, but I was determined to make the top three.” Race organiser Colleen Muller of Walmer Athletics Club said the race route had changed because of renovations at the former starting point at Kings Beach. She said the new course, which led runners up Admiralty Way and down La Roche Drive, was tougher. “I’m not sure if the course will stay the same, because more residents are impacted by it. We have had comments from runners saying they liked it, though.” Locals Gail Willimott and Jodie Bosch, who competed in the 10km for the third year in a row, said the wind and rain had not been a deterrent. “We ran 52.53, which is our best,” said Willimott. “We ran into the wind up Admiralty, but it pushed us down La Roche.” Olwethu . . .
Nedbank’s insurance company has confirmed that it will once again provide free life cover to participants in this year’s Nedbank sani2c mountain bike race, which starts in Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal on May 14. The company, which came on board as official life insurance sponsor to the event in 2012, will make 360Life policies available to every one of the 4 500 riders across the three-day Race (May 16 to 18), Adventure (May 15 to 18) and Trail (May 14 to 16) components. According to Nedbank’s insurance executive Lance Blumeris, the policy included R500 000 worth of accidental death and physical impairment cover and would be valid for the month of May. Blumeris said riders could activate the policy on the official race website and would also have the option to upgrade to R1 million worth of cover at a nominal once-off premium before May 13. After the event, participants who wished to convert their cover to a standalone long-term policy could do so before the end of June without any underwriting, he said. “Mountain biking is a very physically demanding and unpredictable sport. In partnering with the world’s largest paired stage race, we hope to give riders peace-of-mind so they can concentrate on enjoying the route,” said Blumeris. Last year, two Trail riders were tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident as they were returning home to Johannesburg. Blumeris said Nedgroup Life had been able to assist their families by paying out the policies on these riders. “We may not be able to take away the pain felt by a client’s loved ones but we can help in practical ways by providing cover for everything from death and disability to critical illness and income protection.” He said the 360Life policy was designed to be flexible and to adapt to a client’s changing needs and circumstances. According to race organiser Glen Haw, the policy was just another way in which the race and its sponsors provided a holistic experience for riders. “Anything . . .