Nicholas Dougall of MTN-Qhubeka finished safely in the bunch on a slippery final stage to seal the overall victory in the four-day Bestmed Tour de Boland, presented by ASG, on Friday. Dougall, who holds dual Australian and South African citizenship, won the opening stage, an individual time-trial, to establish a 40-second buffer early on. The 20-year-old kept the leader’s jersey throughout the team time-trial and road race stages on days two and three to take a 50-second margin into the final day criterium. Team-mate Till Drobisch stole the show in the crit when he snatched both the points jersey and second place overall with a daring solo breakaway in dangerously wet conditions. JC Nel dropped down from second to third in the general classification to lock out the podium for the Potchefstroom-based team, which serves as a feeder unit for MTN-Qhubeka’s Pro Continental squad. Their Ethiopian colleague Estifanos Gebresilassie claimed the king of the mountains jersey following a powerhouse display in the 110km road race, which finished on top of the old Helshoogte pass above Stellenbosch the day before. Dougall described the tour as “an all-round kind of race” and said the different stages had offered something for every rider, with each course presenting its own challenges. “As a whole, the team rode really, really well throughout and helped me defend the jersey.” He said he was relieved to have finished in tact on a stage in which three riders, including ASG’s pre-stage favourite and sprint jersey winner Nolan Hoffman, crashed. “I was very nervous on the descents today. I’m not overly confident in the wet but I had JC with me through all the corners.” The former Brisbane resident said he was happy to be back on local soil and racing for the pan-African team. Nel said their victory in the tour, which visited Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl in the Cape Winelands, certainly boosted their confidence ahead of Sunday’s Cape Argus Pick n . . .
The East African climbers came to the fore on the queen stage of the Bestmed Tour de Boland, presented by ASG, in the Cape Winelands on Thursday. The MTN-Qhubeka feeder team’s Ethiopian rider Estifanos Gebresilassie outsprinted team-mate and countryman Getachew Yohans to take the 110km third stage by four seconds in 3:02:43. Rwanda’s Jeanvier Hadi, riding in the colours of MTN World Cycling Centre Africa, followed them home in 3:02:56. It was the third stage victory for the Potchefstroom-based team, placing control of the tour firmly in their hands. Australian Nicholas Dougall, who opened their account with a convincing win in the individual time-trial on Tuesday evening, retains the leader’s jersey with a combined time of 3:23:31. His squad mates JC Nel of South Africa and Till Drobisch of Namibia occupy the second and third positions in the overall standings in 3:24:21 and 3:25:00 respectively. Despite their comfortable lead, MTN-Qhubeka team manager Andrew Smith said his riders had gone all out for the stage win. “It was up to these guys to protect Nic and keep him in the yellow jersey and they did a good job of that. But their aim was not just to defend and control but to race aggressively, which they did.” The stage started with a 25km neutral zone from the Allée Bleue wine estate near Stellenbosch through the town of Franschhoek. Turning onto the Wemmershoek road, the bunch went into racing mode, with international track star and Franschhoek resident Nolan Hoffman taking the sprint prime at the 37km mark. After passing through Paarl, a split of 14 riders went off the front on the gravel climb towards the Taal Monument. The East Africans pushed the pace on the ascent, with Gebresilassie taking the king of the mountains hotspot at 47km. A daring breakaway after 70km by RSAWeb’s junior category leader Chris Jooste and MTN WCCA’s Calvin Beneke saw the two riders put a minute into the chasing bunch. The two youngsters worked . . .
Newly crowned national champions MTN-Qhubeka showed their winning form when they swept to victory in the team time-trial on the second day of the Bestmed Tour de Boland, presented by ASG, near Stellenbosch on Wednesday. Africa’s first Pro Continental team’s feeder riders set a blistering pace in near-perfect conditions on the 38km course to record a time of 48 minutes 14.1 seconds at the finish on the Allée Bleue wine estate. They were followed home by the Stellenbosch-based Smith & Associates team, which incorporates the strong Maties outfit, in 51:50:17. In third, clocking 51:59:30, was JP van Zyl’s MTN World Cycling Centre Africa squad. The win further asserts MTN-Qhubeka’s dominance on the overall standings with Australian Nic Dougall, South African JC Nel and Namibian Till Drobisch locking out the podium. Dougall, who claimed the yellow jersey with a surprise performance in the individual time-trial the previous day, said the team had gone all out to make good time. “The guys made it really fast and the pace was smooth out there today.” Nel agreed and said everything had gone to plan and that all six riders had been on song. “We came here for the overall victory and we are now on course for that.” Although the stage did not count towards the individual classification, Nel said his squad had had more to play for. “We’d also like to win the team competition, so I think we took a big step towards that today.” With two stage wins under their belts, the men in yellow and black now seem in firm control of the four-day tour. However, Nel said they would not be resting on their laurels in the testing 140km road race that visits Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl on Thursday. He said the presence of world-class sprinters like Tasol-GT’s Nolan Hoffman and Barbadian Jesse Kelly, who are riding in the colours of ASG, would make a sprint finish less than desirable. “I think you can look forward to a very aggressive race tomorrow.” For race . . .
It was a clean sweep for MTN-Qhubeka on the opening stage of the Bestmed Tour de Boland, presented by ASG, near Stellenbosch on Tuesday. Australian Nicholas Dougall clocked the fastest time in the 14km individual time trial, which saw riders battle headwinds all the way from the Allée Bleue wine estate up the Helshoogte pass to the hilltop finish at African Valley Estate. He crossed the line in 20 minutes 17.3 seconds, a full 50 seconds clear of team-mate JC Nel, who recorded 21 minutes 7.1 seconds. Till Drobisch rounded out the podium for the Potchefstroom-based squad in 21 minutes 45.5 seconds. Dougall said riding the course earlier in the day had been critical to his team’s success and allowed him to gauge his pace correctly. “It was a very tough course. With the two climbs being at the end, you didn’t want to go out too hard. “I paced it fairly well and when I got to the bottom of the first climb I was feeling good and started picking it up towards the end from there.” He said he caught his one-minute man on the flat section halfway through the stage, and passed a second rider on the first climb. “When I got halfway up that climb I was feeling good but it’s very difficult to judge and you never really know until you see the results at the end.” The 20-year-old said the win had come as a surprise to him, following a poor showing at the national road championships last weekend. “My form hasn’t been that great but I thought I’d just go out there today, give it 100% and see what happens.” He said MTN-Qhubeka’s dominant showing would make the outfit a major contender for Wednesday’s 38km team time-trial. “The team is very strong at the moment and we now essentially have three cards to play.” Dougall said Thursday’s 140km road race would be the decisive stage. “We can now afford to race aggressively, not just sit back and wait.” He said the presence of world-class sprinters like Tasol-GT’s Nolan Hoffman would certainly influence . . .
MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION Monday 04 March 2013 Eastern Cape’s Dylan Lightfoot Wins Two Titles At Billabong Junior Series In Durban Durban – Dylan Lightfoot was the star performer at the Billabong Junior Series presented by BOS event in Durban on the weekend, winning every heat he contested and comfortably taking both the Under 20 and U18 boys’ titles. Competing in rippable one metre waves at New Pier, the 18 year-old DaKine and Nixon team-rider from Jeffreys Bay earned a wildcard into the U20 specialty event by winning the U18 final. He went on to dominate his older competitors to pocket a total of R15 000 in prize-money and take the early lead in both the Billabong Junior Series and SSA Pro Surf Tour (PST) U18 rankings. Heidi Palmboom (Bluff) snatched the winner-takes-all R10 000 prize-purse in the U20 girls while Chanelle Botha (Warner Beach) outclassed her opponents in the U18 girls, posting almost twice the score of runner-up Nicole Pallet (Durban) to add R5 000 to her bank balance. Jordan Maree (Kalk Bay) was just as dominant in the U16 boys, which like the U18 divisions, was 2A PST rated. Racking up a heat tally of 13.25 points out of a possible 20, Maree left runner-up Tim Baard (Jeffreys Bay) with too much to do as he cruised to victory. The most impressive performance came from diminutive Kai Woolf (Jeffreys Bay).who posted a perfect 10 point ride and followed that with a 9.40 for a heat total of 19.40 in the U14 girls’ final. That not only clinched the title for Woolf but also earned her the Nixon WTA award of a custom engraved Nixon watch for the highest heat total of the entire event, which she accepted with an impressive speech that belied her tender years. By contrast, the final of the U14 boys was a ding-dong encounter with the lead changing hands several times and Koby Oberholzer (Durban) narrowly outscoring Adin Masencamp (Strand) by less than a point to take the win. The final of the U12 boys, the youngest . . .
It will be the clash of the future champions when international star Nolan Hoffman leads the invitational Boland ASG junior team against a strong World Cycling Centre Africa (WCCA) contingent at the Bestmed Tour de Boland from Tuesday. The Franschhoek-based sprinter, who returned from the UCI World Track Championships at the end of February, will mentor the five youngsters from Wellington during the four-day tour, which is presented by ASG. They are Marc Kerr, Timo Cooper, Wian-David Slabbert, George King and Corne Helberg. Barbados’s top junior rider Jesse Kelly will join them as a special guest. “I’m looking for a win and at the same time to help the young riders,” said Hoffman, who usually rides in the colours of Tasol-GT. “We have a lot of talent in SA. The only way to improve as a rider is in races and we need the longer tours to become internationally competitive.” The four-time Paarl Boxing Day 25-mile winner said the Boland event was perfectly timed to test his legs ahead of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour the following week. His squad will face off against three WCCA teams, featuring six members of the MTN-Qhubeka feeder team, including JC Nel (South Africa), Getachew Yohans (Ethiopia) and Till Drobisch (Namibia). The MTN-Qhubeka development outfit is looking strong following their victory in the team time-trial event at the national road championships this past weekend. According to WCCA director JP van Zyl, Nel and Drobisch were expected to lead the charge in the individual (stage one) and team time-trial (stage two), while Calvin Benecke and Emile Jacobs were the strongest hopefuls for the road race (stage three) and criterium (stage four). “The tour is well balanced in its challenges and is one of our major goal races,” said Van Zyl. “It can be viewed as a talent identification tour, where we will see who will become the big names of the near future.” The former Olympian said the purpose of the Potchefstroom-based . . .
Former Springbok wing turned rugby analyst Ashwin Willemse has thrown his support behind the Southern Kings following their triumph over the Western Force at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last Friday. Willemse, who was the guest of honour at the SPAR Eastern Cape Charity Golf Day in Port Elizabeth last week, said he was “very content and impressed” with their dominating debut performance in the Super Rugby competition. “I think it was a wonderful confidence booster for the players and also all the fans in the Eastern Cape.” Having replaced the Lions as South Africa’s fifth franchise in the competition, he said it was only natural that the team would come under close scrutiny and be judged more severely. “It was a very challenging way that they entered Super Rugby, so the eyes of the rugby world were on them to see how they would perform. “I think they’ve answered their critics exceptionally well with the way they performed in their opening game.” Although the Western Force finished second from the bottom of the log last year, Willemse said this in no way diminished the Kings’ victory. “As a retired player, I can tell you that every side in this competition is a force to be reckoned with. “The Force is not historically the strongest team in Super Rugby but they are nonetheless very competitive and I enjoy their brand of rugby.” Referring to the golf day which raised R100 000 for the Nelson Mandela Bay Community Chest, the 31-year-old said he felt a great responsibility to assist with charitable ventures whenever he could. “In our country we have a lot of need. As individuals, there is that responsibility on all of us to assist in whatever way we can.” In his address to participants at the Humewood Golf Club, the former SA Player of the Year shared his personal experiences in escaping a life of gangsterism and violent crime through rugby. “I am the embodiment of the goodwill that is out there. By sharing my story, I show the . . .
Renay Groustra of South Africa and Daniel Gathof of Germany won the third and final stage of the Rocky Mountain Garden Route 300 mountain bike race in Knysna on Sunday to secure a comfortable overall victory. The Rocky Mountain-RSA Web team’s time of 3:10:11 over the final 80km was two seconds faster than that of stage-one winners Timo Cooper and Adriaan Louw (Bridge), who had relinquished their overall lead the previous day. Billy Stelling and Rob Dormehl (V&A Market on the Wharf) finished third on the day in 3:15:17. Groustra and Gathof completed the third edition of the 300km race in an aggregate time of 12:18:59. Cooper and Louw, with an overall time of 12:27:46, were more than eight minutes behind after mechanical trouble had effectively sealed their fate on the second stage. Neil Bradford and Tim Osrin (Harvest Foundation) rounded out the podium in 12:55:43. Groustra said the win was particularly meaningful as it was his first outing with Gathof, who is a two-time TransAlp winner in the mixed category. “Our sponsors are also title sponsors of this race, so it means a lot to them and us.” He said they now hoped to secure funding to ride the Absa Cape Epic together. Their lead of close to nine minutes going into the final day had put the pressure firmly on Cooper and Louw. The latter rose to the challenge and turned up the heat within the first 10km on Phantom Pass, but Groustra and Gathof were able to match them all the way to the summit. The two teams stayed together until Louw initiated a breakaway on the big Hydro climb 30km into the race. “We were climbing out of the valley after the first waterpoint when Adriaan went hard off the front,” said Groustra. Cooper and Louw opened up a 40-second gap on the climb but a patient Groustra and Gathof reeled them in shortly thereafter. “And then it was easy after that because they knew they couldn’t get away from us and we felt we didn’t need to open up a bigger lead,” said . . .
South Africa’s Renay Groustra and German team-mate Daniel Gathof claimed the 115km second stage and overall lead of the Rocky Mountain Garden Route 300 mountain bike race in Knysna on Saturday. In a reversal of fortune, the Rocky Mountain-RSA Web duo came good on a stage that included 2 400m of climbing to comfortably overhaul Bridge’s overnight leaders Timo Cooper and Adriaan Louw. Groustra and Gathof crossed the line in 4:39:56, followed by Cooper and Louw (4:48:45) and V&A Market on the Wharf’s Billy Stelling and Rob Dormehl (4:55:15). The new leaders, who twice veered off course the previous day, took full advantage of a Cooper puncture to establish a lead of almost nine minutes going into the 78km final stage on Sunday. Passing through the local Rastafarian village, the racing started at an easy tempo on what is traditionally regarded as the tour’s queen stage. Gathof, twice a TransAlp winner, forced the first breakaway through the Petrus se Brand forest trails, which came after the first feeding station at 30km. With only his partner and the Bridge riders able to follow, it was left to Stelling and Dormehl and masters’ category leaders Neil Bradford and Tim Osrin, riding in the colours of the Harvest Foundation, to do the chasing. Disaster struck the yellow jersey pairing when Cooper punctured on a descent 50km into the race. “We plugged it and then the plug popped out, so we plugged it again,” said Cooper. After running out of CO2 bombs, a pump borrowed from solo rider Dominic Calitz got them on their way again. “We couldn’t see Renay and Daniel anymore and then the two chasing teams caught us but we rode away from them again before the second waterpoint.” By the 60km mark, Gathof and Groustra had pulled six minutes clear of Cooper and Louw. They continued to extend the gap on the remaining hills to ride alone to the finish. Gathof said the big gravel road climbs had suited him perfectly, as they were very similar to . . .
After almost 100km of pristine forest riding, former champion Timo Cooper and ad hoc partner Adriaan Louw made the decisive move on the final stretch of tar to claim the opening stage of the three-day Rocky Mountain Garden Route 300 in Knysna on Friday. In a day of shifting fortunes, the Bridge riders finally outsprinted Renay Groustra and Daniel Gathof (Rocky Mountain/RSA Web) to cross the line in 4:28:48, just four seconds clear of their fellow escapees. Third-placed Austrian riders René Haselbacher and Wolfgang Krenn (Makomo Resources), who were also part of the initial three-team breakaway, overcame illness to finish almost six minutes behind the leaders in 4:36:41. Wellington-based Cooper, who finished runner-up last year alongside Jarryd Haley, said the racing started at a furious pace up the first hill on the dump road just outside Knysna. “We eventually got away with two other teams on a climb after about 40 kilometres and we just put in a constant tempo from there.” Groustra and Gathof built a slim lead on the technical Red Route through the Harkerville Forest, but bad luck struck when they went off course. By the time they recovered from their misadventure, the Bridge and Makomo Resources riders were just 30 seconds off. Cooper and Paarl-based Louw closed the gap, only to join Groustra and Gathof on another detour. “We were consolidating with Timo and Adriaan when we went the wrong way again,” said a frustrated Groustra. “That put us about five minutes behind René and Wolfgang.” However, stomach problems put an end to the Austrians’ efforts and the chasers caught and passed them just before the third waterpoint at the 80km mark. From there, the two teams rode together to the finish and in the end it was Cooper and Louw who had the legs to secure the win. “There are still two more days,” said Groustra. “It’s now up to Timo and Adriaan to lead the way, so we can just focus on what we’re doing.” His German partner, who is a . . .