High-speed criterium circuit racing returns to Johannesburg this autumn with the seventh edition of the Emperors Palace Classic. The annual cycling spectacular, which is presented by ASG, starts with the popular mountain bike component on Saturday, April 12, and continues with the road and criterium races the following day. Traditionally held in jam-packed February, the bumper weekend was successfully moved to a less congested time slot last year, attracting more than 6 000 riders across all events. Race director Wynand de Villiers said organisers were once again expecting a capacity turnout for the Gauteng event. "This event fills an important niche on the racing calendar and gives riders in all disciplines something to train for before the winter chill sets in." De Villiers said mountain bikers in the 20km and 40km races would once again experience a little jet propulsion, as the routes crossed the grounds of the OR Tambo International Airport. "They ride parallel to, but at a safe distance from, the runways. The thrill of hearing those powerful aircraft engines is one of the major attractions of this event." On the road side, he said the 102km feature route would remain unchanged for the fifth consecutive year. "We've had lots of positive feedback from riders, so we decided not to mess with a winning formula." Last year, David Maree claimed the victory for Team Abantu (formerly Tasol-GT) in a nail-biting three-man sprint to the line. De Villiers described the route as "fast, flat and exciting but very manageable". With more than 100 metro police officers and 200 marshals on duty, he said it would also be one of the safest in the province. For those not up to tackling the full distance, De Villiers said there would be a 50km short course option. He said the feature races would be followed by the ever-popular Kids Classic for children between the ages of two and eight years. The racing action culminates with the Circuit . . .
Madibaz striker Natius Malgraff has been selected for the South African men's hockey side to compete in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which starts in Malaysia on Thursday. The six-nation tournament will see the Proteas take on Canada, Korea, China, Australia and the host country in a round-robin format. "We stand a good chance of a top-three finish, with Australia the favourites to take the cup," said Malgraff. This will be his third national call-up in as many months, after playing in a five-test series against Argentina in February, as well as three international fixtures against Olympic champions Germany in Cape Town last week. South Africa, ranked number 11 in the world, went down 4-0 to the South Americans and 3-0 to the European team. Malgraff said his personal highlight of the Argentinian tour had been scoring a goal to give his country a 2-1 lead in the final match, which eventually ended in a draw. "Playing against the Olympic champions was also an absolute treat. I never chased after a piece of leather like that in my life!" The first-year mechanical engineering student said each of these tournaments had been treated as a training camp, with 18 members of the 34-man squad selected for each game. His Madibaz teammate, Chad Cairncross, also attended the Cape Town camp and will join Malgraff in the training squad for the World Cup, which takes place in the Netherlands in June. Although still a junior member of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University team, Malgraff is already a veteran of international competition. He first received his SA colours as an under-16 player in 2009 and rose through the ranks before making his debut for the senior men's team at the FIH Champions Challenge in Argentina in 2012. Last year, the East London-born sportsman was also a member of the SA under-21 side that participated in the Junior World Cup in India. "I started playing hockey at St John's Road Primary, where I was given a chance to . . .
FNB NMMU head coach David Maidza has made several strategic changes to his side that will take on defending champions FNB Tuks in their crucial sixth-round FNB Varsity Cup encounter in Pretoria tonight. The penultimate game of the round-robin tournament could be a defining moment for the team from Port Elizabeth, who have had mixed fortunes in the tournament thus far. "The win against Wits was the right result for us to take into the Tuks game," said Maidza, whose Madibaz outfit claimed a confidence-boosting 18-12 win in Johannesburg last week. "We know that we will certainly be up against a formidable team but we are confident that we've managed to fix our problems on the field and are ready for the challenge." Aiming to put maximum points on the board will be kicker Gavin Hauptfleisch, who returns to the flyhalf position. Vice-captain Jarryd Buys will be back in control and on familiar turf at fullback. "Tighthead prop Dexter Fahey and right lock Cameron Lindsay also make a welcome return from injury to strengthen our forward pack," said Maidza. He said the new options had given him the flexibility to move Stefan Willemse to openside flank in place of Marcel Groenewald. Number eight kingpin Timothy Agaba takes a well-deserved breather on the bench, with Groenewald starting in his place. "Jody Reyneke gets a start ahead of Martin Ferreira who has done a sterling job at hooker," said Maidza. "I feel the fresh legs on Jody will help at this stage of the competition." Ferreira and Eastern Province Kings player Kayle van Zyl will take their place on the sidelines, while Wade Elliot replaces utility forward Andre Barnard at number 19. Utility back Andile Jho swops jerseys with left centre Devon Lailvaux. Maidza said his men were determined to book their berth in the semifinals and would not surrender without a fight. A mere three points currently separate Madibaz, who lie fifth on the log, and second-placed Tuks. "We want to . . .
The Thoroughbred Race Horse has been refined over the last 300-odd years through selective breeding and careful pedigree selection to the ultimate athlete that it is today. Bred from three Arabian Stallions and an original handful of mare stock, the Thoroughbred is bred to run and born to race. While racing may be their purpose, their inherent workmanlike nature, generosity and athleticism mean that they are highly suited to other forms of equestrian sport and given the right environments and grounding, go on to excel.ghly suited to other forms of equestrian sport after their racing careers. From three-phase eventing to show-jumping, dressage, polo and polo-crosse to wonderful hacks and companions, the thoroughbred is not “just a race horse”. Beyond Racing is a drive to reposition the after racing demand for Thoroughbreds, promote their transition from racing to sport and leisure horses and ensure that our Thoroughbreds are well looked after beyond the race-track. Beyond Racing is Imagine Racing’s initiative to promote and publicise Thoroughbreds, highlight their successes as highly suitable sport and leisure horses and to promote their appropriate transition from racing to be well looked after, much loved and valued beyond their racing careers. The campaign aims to combine all forces in the breeding and racing industry, sport horse industry, the National Thoroughbred Trust and animal welfare units to promote their care and highlight their suitability and successes as riding horses across all disciplines. For the 2014 Equestrian calendar, Beyond Racing will start to initiate and encourage special Thoroughbred series classes and prizes within classes at shows, to highlight and acknowledge competitive Thoroughbreds and their riders, in their chosen disciplines at all levels. Together with the Thoroughbred industry we will also initiate annual awards for Thoroughbreds that have stood out or excelled outside of racing. For example, the Thoroughbred of the year . . .
Defending champion Nic Dougall stayed the course up the winding Franschhoek Pass to finish among the leaders and seal his second straight victory in the four-day Bestmed Tour de Boland, presented by ASG, on Friday. Dougall took the yellow jersey for the MTN-Qhubeka feeder team in the individual time-trial to the top of Helshoogte on day one and did not relinquish it again throughout the three remaining road stages. He claimed the overall honours in 9:53:03, a comfortable 45 seconds clear of Namibia's Till Drobisch (WCC Africa). Former Tour of Egypt winner Waylon Woolcock (Cannondale-Blend) placed third in 9:54:14. Woolcock's teammate Darren Lill and Kevin Evans (FedGroup-Itec) split the peloton to pieces when they launched an attack at the base of the 7km climb to the mountain-top finish. Lill then shook Evans to take a spectacular win in 2:52:30 on the 113km stage from Riebeek-Kasteel. James Tennant (Giant) hung on tenaciously to finish eight seconds behind the former national road champion, with Jayde Julius (Bonitas) a further eight seconds adrift. Lill - who also claimed the king of the mountains jersey - said it had been a good, challenging tour for his team. "Unfortunately I missed the move yesterday so we couldn't take the overall, but I don't think we can be unhappy with two out of four stage wins and a second place in the time-trial." Dougall said the opening stage, in which he established a 39-second lead, had suited his strengths and that his team had protected him and helped extend his advantage on the hillier road stages. "I started today's climb on third wheel and that was all thanks to my team who kept me out of trouble for the preceding 20km. "We always knew Darren would be so strong. He's an incredible rider, so we were lucky we didn't have to chase him." Former Franschhoek local and international track star Nolan Hoffman (Abantu) dominated the sprint hotspots to claim the green jersey. Women's leader Juanita . . .
Madibaz all-rounder Kirwin Christoffels is one step closer to achieving his dream of padding up for the Proteas after an impressive showing at the recent ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. The South Africans were a force to be reckoned with throughout the tournament, progressing convincingly through their matches before defeating two-time former champions Pakistan in the final. The World Cup took place from February 14 to March 1 with the cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah hosting the various matches. The young South Africans came up against the West Indies, Canada and Zimbabwe in the group stages, before eliminating Afghanistan in the quarterfinals and Australia in the semis. "The UAE was an amazing experience on and off the field," said Christoffels. "When we were not playing, it was nice to see how a different part of the world operates. Things like the manner in which people behave and how they eat different foods, or avoid certain foods or liquids to stay healthy. "On the field was another great experience, especially in terms of growth," said Christoffels, who said it was a learning curve to have to adapt to different and sometimes unusual playing conditions. "I also gained a lot from those around me, especially coach Ray Jennings." A second year accounting student at NMMU, he said a personal highlight was his debut against Canada in which he scored a half-century. "I also cherish the friendships I formed and will always remember going on a desert drive and visiting Ferrari World. But the cherry on top was lifting the trophy and completing the objective." Selected as a batsman with the ability to bowl when called upon, the former Queen's College pupil did duty at number three at the World Cup. "I fell in love with cricket at a very young age, watching the game with my dad. I also have fond memories of him playing with me and my little brother," said Queenstown-born Christoffels. He said playing club . . .
South Africa's top-flight track and field stars are set to descend on Port Elizabeth for the first instalment of the annual FNB Varsity Athletics series, which gets underway at the NMMU Stadium on March 21. The high-profile event will see athletes from the top eight universities competing for glory in the opening round of the four-meet national series. Madibaz athletics manager Nellis Bothma said the fast-paced made-for-television format would ensure explosive action and offered a fantastic sporting spectacle for the public, complete with fireworks. "We've got an action-packed two-hour programme lined up, with the cream of South Africa's athletes competing," said Bothma. "We've worked very hard to attract top-class student athletes to NMMU so we will give the other universities a good run for their money this year." Bothma said this would be the first time that the local institution played host to the event, after finishing sixth in the inaugural series in 2013. This year's participating institutions had qualified at last year's University Sport South Africa tournament, he said. "The top eight universities in that competition go through to the Varsity Athletics series." The Madibaz will face off against the University of Johannesburg, Tshwane University of Technology, the University of the Western Cape, Tuks, Maties, Pukke and Kovsies. Bothma said each squad comprised 27 athletes competing in an abbreviated programme of events. Heading up the Madibaz charge will be defending shot-put champion and discus specialist Ischke Senekal. "She broke the Eastern Province record at her last league meeting, so she's in top form." He said high-jumper Garth Ellis would be another promising athlete to watch. "Garth jumped a personal best of 2.1m recently, so we're hoping he can clear 2.15 during the competition." In keeping with the high performance nature of the series, Bothma said organisers had also replaced the 1 500m race with the traditional . . .
Nic Dougall of MTN-Qhubeka's feeder team kept the yellow jersey for a third straight day as teammate Meron Teshome secured the stage victory at the Bestmed Tour de Boland, presented by ASG, on Thursday. The Eritrean national road champion claimed the 138km third stage from Tulbagh to Riebeek-Kasteel in a time of 3:22:45 in searingly hot and windy conditions. He finished just two seconds clear of South African runner-up Stefan Ihlenfeldt (Lights by Linea), with Namibian Till Drobisch (WCC Africa) completing the international podium. Teshome said he was very happy to take his first stage win on South African soil but that his team's sole aim had been to keep the yellow jersey safe. He was part of the decisive 11-man break - which included Dougall and stage two winner Waylon Woolcock (Cannondale Blend) - that went clear at the halfway mark. A handful of riders managed to bridge the gap in the vicinity of Piketberg but strong crosswinds split the field even further, allowing the breakaway group to open a margin of almost two minutes. By the time they turned onto the N7 towards Moorreesburg, they had stretched that lead to more than five minutes. "Today the race was very hard and windy," said Teshome. "It was our job to pace the first group because the second guy overall (Darren Lill) was not with us and we needed to create a bigger time gap." With 15km to go, Kevin Evans of FedGroup-Itec led a four-man attack that was quickly hauled back. ASG's Ryan Felgate was next to try and quickly built an advantage of 10 seconds before he was reeled in on the outskirts of Riebeek-Kasteel. Then it was left to the 21-year-old East African to power his way up the short drag to the finish in the town. Defending champion Dougall said he was proud of his teammate's performance. "He's a real powerhouse; he paced and worked on the front all day and still won. He's a machine." Dougall said his outfit would be looking for the overall win but that . . .
Cannondale-Blend's Waylon Woolcock timed his break to perfection to snatch a surprise solo victory on day two of the Bestmed Tour de Boland in the Cape Winelands on Wednesday. The former Tour of Egypt winner broke away in the closing kilometres of the 129km road stage from Solms-Delta Wine Estate near Franschhoek to cross the finish line at the Tulbagh Hotel in 3:14:39. The Stellenbosch-based rider was followed home by Team Giant's Johann Rabie, with Meerendal-Songo.info's former Giro d'Italia stage winner Frantisek Rabon (Czech Republic) third. Overnight leader Nic Dougall finished safely in the bunch to retain the yellow jersey for the MTN-Qhubeka feeder team. The day's racing started cautiously in hot conditions, with the top teams unwilling to commit to an early breakaway. The first sprint prime of the day was won by Peter Lee Jeffries of Inter-active-Tech, while Woolcock's teammate Darren Lill took the initial king of the mountains hotspot near the Taal Monument at Paarl. Former Franschhoek resident Nolan Hoffman of Team Abantu went on to claim the second sprint prime at the 37km mark near Windmeul Kelder. Just a few kilometres on, the racing started in earnest as the bunch split in two and the leaders opened a one-minute gap on the large chase group. ASG's Chris Jooste made a daring getaway from the front group after 50km to go 15 seconds clear as the remaining leaders were hauled in by the main chase group. With 40km to go, Tanzanian Richard Laizer caught Jooste and the two worked together to extend their lead to just under three minutes. MTN-Qhubeka's Laizer claimed the final king of the mountains hotspot on Bothmaskloof Pass before he and Jooste were finally reeled in by the bunch. Another three-man break - featuring Kevin Evans (FedGroup-Itec), JC Nel (Westvaal-BMC) and Jeffries - was brought back in the final 20km. "We knew from about 25km out that the gutter winds would be the instigating factor in splitting the . . .
A torrential downpour did little to dampen FNB NMMU's spirits, as they rallied to a much-needed 18-12 win over FNB Wits in the fifth round of the FNB Varsity Cup in Johannesburg on Monday night. The Madibaz kept their hopes in the national tournament alive with a last-gasp try in slippery and wet conditions. "It wasn't the prettiest of games," said head coach David Maidza. "Weather conditions were pretty atrocious but we're happy to come away with a win." Despite a number of handling errors, Maidza said his side had turned in a gutsy performance and he was pleased with the effort shown under difficult circumstances. "That's what you want from a coaching perspective, for the players to try their level best and give it their all. And that's what we did." However, he said there was definite room for improvement in terms of accuracy when they had ball in hand. "We turned over too many balls. We need to work on our passing and ball carriage and tick those boxes for the coming week." But, said Maidza, the win was a welcome result after two losses on the trot to FNB UCT and FNB NWU-Pukke. "The bottom line is we did the job and we look forward to the next game now." The Port Elizabeth-based team face defending champions FNB Tuks in their penultimate game of the round-robin section of the tournament. "We're in a precarious situation at the moment and we have to play catch-up rugby," said Maidza. "There's a big job to be done still. It's critical that we go to Pretoria with the right mindset and that we play to the best of our ability - a win is critical." Should they achieve this aim, only the Shimlas stand between Madibaz and their semi-final ambitions. "Both games are vital. We have to do the job in this one first and make sure that we get the necessary points." With a number of teams delivering unexpected performances and predicted outcomes failing to materialise, Maidza said the tournament was far from over. "It's critical . . .