Dylan Girdlestone sealed his second overall victory in the 151km Bestmed Jock Cycle Classique in a dramatic two-man sprint in the third and final stage at Mbombela in Mpumalanga on Saturday. In the dash to the line, the Westvaal-BMC rider got the better of MTN-Qhubeka’s Ethiopian climber Alem Grmay to steal the stage and overall wins by a single second. After a series of well-timed attacks by Girdlestone, the two broke clear of the group containing the main contenders in sight of the finish at the Mbombela Stadium. The 23-year-old from Pretoria completed the 30th edition of what is believed to be South Africa’s toughest road race in a combined time of 3:43:02. Westvaal’s Nico Bell secured the final step on the podium in 3:43:12. “It feels just as good as the first time I won it,” said an elated Girdlestone. “I’ve always put the Jock down as one of my goal races because it suits me really well. “This year’s route was very much like the old one in that you have a hard final stage with a tough last few kilometres. “The trick is to stay protected and if you’ve had the easiest ride there, you’ll have the most power – which is exactly what happened.” Although Girdlestone’s small five-man outfit was without the services of Tyler and Dusty Day, he said they had raced tactically to be able to compete against the numerically superior teams. “The plan was for my team-mates to have an easy ride in the first two stages. I said, ‘You can drop off, just don’t get eliminated’. “So we went into the last stage all guns blazing.” Team Abantu sprinter Nolan Hoffman took the day’s first yellow jersey when he came out tops in a bunch sprint in the 43km opening stage between Mbombela, formerly Nelspruit, and White River. Hoffman crossed the line in 1:05:08 to edge ahead of MTN-Qhubeka’s Ryan Gibbons and team-mate David Maree. On stage two, a grippy 45km ride from White River to Sabie, Grmay and team-mate Yohans Getachew took advantage of an early attack . . .
The 30th Bestmed Jock Cycle Classique, presented by ASG, will give riders a painful history lesson as they ascend the misty hights of Long Tom Pass en route to Nelspruit on Saturday, July 20. It is perhaps fitting that this Mpumalanga pass, which takes participants into South Africa's colourful past, forms the highlight of the final leg of the three-stage road tour. Long Tom Pass was named for the 155mm Creusot siege cannons used on its flanks, for the last time, by the Boer commandos against the British in September 1900. Today, just over 20km from Sabie, a replica of one of these field guns stands as a monument to this skirmish during the Second Anglo-Boer War. In a similar vein, 1 500 riders will have to come out with all guns blazing as they muster their reserves for the final fight in SA's toughest one-day stage race. According to race organiser Wynand de Villiers, the last stage starts with the battle up this massive ascent. Much like the MTN Panorama Tour, the Jock traverses the monster climb, for about 8km, at an average gradient of seven percent, and turns towards Nelspruit just before its peak. The summit on the R37, which is one of the highest tarred roads in the country, is situated at 2 150m above sea-level and offers breathtaking views of the Sabie valley below. "The good news is that it's mostly downhill after that," says De Villiers. "The bad news is that there are some serious hairpin bends and the last stage is 18km longer than last year!" Riders who find it tough going should spare a thought for those who forged the original pass with picks and shovels back in the early 1870s. The steep and treacherous track formed the basis of the Transvaal Republic's trade route to Delagoa Bay in modern-day Mozambique. Many who came to seek their fortunes in the gold fields of the Lowveld also crossed this way, including Jock of the Bushveld author Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and his faithful canine companion who gives the race its . . .
On Sunday, 21 July runners and walkers can bring their family and friends to “run wild” at Mpongo Private Game Reserve in aid of PAWS (Protect Africa’s Wildlife) to raise funds to support various Eastern Cape game reserves in protecting their wildlife. The 20km and 10km run and 5km walk will take participants through the stunning Mpongo Private Game Reserve. Starting times for the respective runs or walk are 10am for the 20km run, 10:30am for the 10km run and 10:45 for the 5km walk. The entry fee is R70 per person for all entering the walk or races, but free for children younger than five years, accompanied by an adult. The winners of all three races will receive medals and the first 400 finishers will each receive a free T-shirt. To book, register at Totalsports in the Hemingways Mall and Vincent Park Mall or email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Gavin at 076 801 6888. “We look forward to once again welcome nature lovers to our reserve to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding area while supporting nature conservation,” says Rodney Gerhardt, reserve manager of Mpongo Private Game Reserve, which is part of the Premier Hotels and Resorts group. Anyone interested in staying over for the weekend can book accommodation at the Mpongo Private Game Reserve at the special winter accommodation rate by phoning 043 742 9000 or book online at www.premierhotels.co.za. About PAWS PAWS is a non-profit, non-government assisted organization based in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. PAWS was formed in November 2011 in order to assist in the raising of funds towards the protection of Africa's wildlife. For more information about PAWS, please contact Gavin de Lange at email@example.com or visit www.pawafricawildlifefunds.co.za. For further enquires please contact Gavin at 076 801 6888. URL: http://www.premierhotels.co.za/ Twitter: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/premierhotels YouTube: Author: Naomi Willemse from Premier Hotels and . . .
The University of Johannesburg scored a trifecta of wins when its men's hockey, squash and rugby teams took gold during the winter leg of the USSA national student tournaments. The squash and hockey teams successfully defended their titles, while the rugby squad took back the laurels after winning two years ago. According to UJ Sport's senior manager for clubs Adrian Carter, the results confirm the university's position among the top performing tertiary institutions in the country. "It's one thing to win a title but the true mark of a champion group of people comes to the fore when one defends that title." UJ, the only team not to drop a game en route to the last round, beat the University of Pretoria 14-10 in the final of the squash championships in Port Elizabeth on July 5. On the same day, the institution overcame former rugby champions Stellenbosch University 29-16 to lift the trophy in Pretoria, while the hockey team claimed a 3-2 victory, also over Maties, in Cape Town. Carter said UJ participates annually in 12 of the 35 USSA sporting codes and a number of factors had led to his teams' success this season. "We are well supported by the university from a financial perspective and with that comes the appointment of quality human resources in the form of sports managers, coaches, team managers, sports scientists and biokineticists. "All of them are responsible for creating the right environment in which our student-athletes thrive both academically and on the sports field. Having the right people really goes a long way to ensuring sustainable success." He said the university advocated a balanced approach when recruiting student-athletes. "We stress the point that they are here firstly to be a student and secondly an athlete; with that comes a great responsibility to manage their time and meet both their academic and sporting obligations without compromising either. "Whether they go on to play professionally or take part in a . . .
Organisers have allocated an additional 500 slots as the deadline for the 30th Bestmed Jock Cycle Classique looms at midnight on Tuesday, July 9. "We'll certainly have a full field of 1 500 riders and, thanks to a special concession from the Mbombela traffic department, we're now able to accommodate more," said race director Wynand de Villiers. He said the Jock was billed as South Africa's toughest one-day road race and would be headed by the country's top pro teams. "The entry response has been outstanding despite us having to deviate from the traditional route between Barberton, Nelspruit and Kaapmuiden due to roadworks." The Mpumalanga event, which is presented by ASG, will this year follow a three-stage route from Nelspruit to Sabie, White River and back to Nelspruit on July 20. De Villiers said it was a once-off opportunity for participants to experience this particular route, which features the challenging Long Tom Pass, as organisers would most likely revert to the old one next year. "The traditional Jock route represents the pinnacle of road cycling in South Africa and it's an icon not to be tampered with." But, he warned, the new 151km route would be just as tough as previous editions. "When you ride your bike anywhere in the Lowveld you either go up or down; the road is never flat. "The first two stages will be similar in difficulty, but the final one is a real leg breaker with Long Tom. "I know a lot of riders are of the opinion that it won't be as difficult as the traditional third stage because Long Tom is right at the start. But it's eight kilometres long and keeps climbing after the left turn to Nelspruit." De Villiers said it would take the slower riders more than an hour to get to the top. "That equates to a lot of energy and pain – and then there is still a long way to go. "The last 50km are predominantly downhill, but there are a few bumps in the road and these will really add insult to injury after Long . . .
The University of Johannesburg met former FNB Varsity Cup title-holders Stellenbosch University in the final of the USSA rugby tournament on Friday afternoon, 5 July 2013. UJ beat defending champions the University of Pretoria 15-10 in a closely contested semi-final at the Tshwane University of Technology grounds on Wednesday to secure their final berth. Maties beat NWU-Pukke narrowly by 35-32 on their march into the last round. According to UJ rugby manager Jimmy Potgieter, the win had boosted his side's confidence, as they had not beaten Tuks in three years at the national student championships. "Both sides tried to play an attacking game and went for the tries in the spirit of the tournament," said Potgieter. "In the first half, we scored two good tries from our own 22." UJ scrumhalf Jacques Pretorius opened the scoring when he caught the ball in his own half and ran 60 metres to break through the Tuks defence. Fullback Kobus de Kock went over for the second try after his side stole the opposition's line-out ball deep in UJ's own territory. De Kock kicked the conversion and a penalty in the closing minutes of the first half to give UJ a comfortable 15-0 margin at the half-time whistle. "Then Tuks woke up in the second half and suddenly started playing," said Potgieter. They scored a converted try and a penalty but it was not enough to take the win. "They lost too many line-outs. Our contesting in the line-outs and winning the ball was what won us the game." Aside from a big loss to Tuks at the Varsity Cup earlier in the year, Potgieter said both sides had been fairly evenly matched throughout the season. "Ultimately, all semi-finals are about who makes the most mistakes. If you don't make mistakes in the game, then you'll win. As for us, we were just more consistent yesterday." He said he expected a tough, running game from the Maties in the final. "Tomorrow, anything can happen. That's what makes university rugby so . . .
Some 800 mountain bikers will have the chance to sign up for the adventure of a lifetime when entries for the international nine-day Old Mutual joBerg2c in South Africa open at 8am on Monday (July 8). Now in its fifth year, event organisers have chosen to do away with the shorter three and six-stage options. This gives more riders the opportunity to cover the full 910km distance from Heidelberg, south of Johannesburg, to Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal coast. According to Craig Wapnick, the organisers decided to focus on the nine-day event due to the popularity of the original option and the logistical challenges surrounding the shorter versions, which ran concurrently. "We believe it should be a real challenge and that riders should be proud to say, 'I rode the full nine days'." Wapnick said the field would be increased to 350 two-man teams, with a further 100 solo places available. This year, an international contingent of 112 riders from 20 countries participated and more are expected to take part in 2014. "Our ride is open to anyone from anywhere who loves riding. We want all passionate mountain bikers to enter." Wapnick said participants would enjoy another fresh challenge as GPS navigation replaced conventional route marking. "We think the GPS element will add a sense of adventure but, at the same time, it's really simple to follow." Participants should not confuse GPS routes with a more "bushwhacking" orienteering event, he said. "The route and single track will be, as always, fast and flowing and well-prepared for fun on all levels." Wapnick said the cut-off times for each stage would be based on an average speed of 15km per hour. "Our cut-off policy is really nothing to fear if you are fit and can ride reasonably well on single track." On the 130km third stage, for example, he said participants riding at the minimum threshold speed would complete the queen stage in less than nine hours. "It is aimed at promoting . . .
The Skateboarding for Hope community outreach programme will make a stop in the Free State this weekend with a full day of skateboarding action at the Loch Logan Mall in Bloemfontein. Skateboarding enthusiasts from across the province will have the chance to show off their tricks on Sunday, 7 July 2013 from 11h00. One talented skateboarder will also win a wild card entry into the world skateboarding championships, which will be taking place in Kimberley in September. The day’s action will include skateboarding clinics, demos, best trick competitions with cash prizes and skateboarding merchandise up for grabs. Expert skateboarders will be conducting training sessions to show novice skateboarders the basic moves. Kids from local children’s homes and disadvantaged communities will be invited to form part of the fun and will be kitted out with skateboards and merchandise. According to Mr John Block, Northern Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, the roll-out of the Skateboarding for Hope tour continues to reach other provinces in the country. “We have been increasingly impressed by the skills and talent of local skateboarders and with the speed of growth of this sport in the Northern Cape and Free State. During the past couple of years, we have seen skateboarding gaining an ever greater popularity and providing our youth with incredible opportunities. The Bloemfontein activation will be an ideal chance for more youngsters in our neighbouring province to learn about this exhilarating sport and we keenly await to see who will be the next qualifier for the amateur world championship event in Kimberley later this year. Over the next couple of months, this initiative will also stop in the Southern Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape and bring skateboarding to the youth of the country”. Said Mr Block. The Skateboarding for Hope initiative was launched by the Northern Cape provincial government to offer . . .
Second-year law student Willie Smit swept to a convincing victory in the three-day Bestmed USSA national cycling championships in Port Elizabeth on Friday. Smit, who races for the University of Pretoria and the Bonitas pro team, won four of the five stages and finished third in the final criterium. The 20-year-old took the yellow jersey on day one and did not relinquish it again. Stellenbosch University's Hans-Werner Heuer put in a strong showing to finish second overall, with Marinus Prinsloo rounding out the podium for host institution Shukuma-NMMU. In the women's race, former pro Sarah Chemaly and team-mate Kelley Hess made it a one-two for the University of Cape Town. Ashleigh Blackwell, who rides professionally for the Bestmed ASG outfit, claimed third for Stellenbosch University. "I'm so privileged and happy right now," said a delighted Smit. "My team rode so well. It wouldn't have been possible without them." Their combined performance also helped Tuks to secure the overall victory in the team classification. Shukuma-NMMU took the runner-up spot, with the Maties squad in third. Smit was full of praise for the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's organising committee. "The best thing about this tour was how well it was organised. Everything was perfect – the roads were nice and their route choices were brilliant." The newly crowned champion now turns his attention to his pro racing commitments as he prepares to compete in the Knysna Cycle Tour on Sunday. "This time I'll be working for somebody else but that's the nature of cycling." Earlier in the week, Cape Peninsula University of Technology student Timo Cooper won the mountain biking event on a technical cross-country circuit at Hopewell Trails just outside the city. The women's race was won by Emily Clarke of UCT. Visit www.nmmu.ac.za Issued by: Full Stop Communications Coetzee Gouws 082 575 7991 041 368 . . .
The University of Pretoria's Willie Smit completed a hat-trick of stage wins to retain the yellow jersey on day two of the Bestmed USSA cycle tour in in a cold and rainy Port Elizabeth on Thursday. Smit added the 120km queen stage – and the day's sprint prime – to his tally after claiming the 83km opening road stage and 15km individual time-trial at the national student championships on Wednesday. The Team Bonitas pro went clear of a four-man lead group in the closing kilometres to take a convincing win in 3:17:51 for an overall time of 5:46:53. Hans-Werner Heuer of Stellenbosch University claimed the runner-up spot in 3:19:32. He was chased to the line by Shukuma-NMMU's Marinus Prinsloo, who finished five seconds back. Heuer and Prinsloo occupy the same positions in the general classification with aggregate times of 5:50:54 and 5:51:11 respectively. Prinsloo also put on a powerhouse climbing display to take both King of the Mountain hotspots. The host institution, which last won the event in 2008, now leads the team classification. "As a team, we're very happy today," said Prinsloo. "Our main goal for the tour is to get a podium in the team classification. The individual positions are a bonus for us." Overnight leader Smit started conservatively in the wet conditions as his team paced hard upfront. "I didn't do a lot of work seeing as I have the yellow jersey – all I had to do was defend it. My team did a brilliant job." Then, 40km into the race, the first of two demanding laps started. "I told them to make it as hard as possible on the second lap when we hit the big 5K Hill climb and there was a small break that went on the climb. I think it was about 70km into the race." This effectively split the race into the lead group of four riders, which also included Adriaan Louw of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and a chasing bunch of 12. As the freezing conditions and fatigue began to take their toll on the leaders, . . .