Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Hard work pays off as the ASG Academy ends off a successful National XCO season in style

Last Saturday the final leg of the National Cross Country series was held in PE. The course was short, fast and technical with a series of drops, a jump and a rock garden that would separate the men from the boys!

The U23 category is exceptionally competitive with a field of 15 riders, an impressive 12 of whom finished. This compared to an elite field of 8 riders, 4 of whom managed to finish.
Arno Du Toit fought a hard battle tooth-and-nail he placed 5th U23, the top 4 spots taken up by RourkeCroeser, James Reid, GertHeynes, and Luke Roberts. The top 6 riders were separated by a mere 2 minutes, showing just how close the battle between these top class athletes is! Du Toit's 7 lap times were within seconds of each other, another sign of top class performance with his last lap being his fastest!  Du Toit's consistantly good results throughout the series earned him 3rd place in Pro Elite category for the year."I lost contact with the lead group about half way through the 2nd lap and ended up fighting for 5th or 6th place during most of the race. Towards the end I felt really good and managed to set the fastest final lap." Du Toit adds "I'm very happy with my consistent performances throughout the year and would like to compliment and thank coach Paul Cordes on a very successful training plan."

In the Elite Ladies’ race Samantha Saunders took the lead from the beginning, Amy McDougall and Cherrie Vale switched between 2nd and 3rd for the first 2 laps out of 6 before McDougall shook her off and finished in a solid second place. She also ranked 2nd in the Elite category for the series. “This is my best result in an SA XCO Champs race yet. After a run of not so great races this was a nice end to the series and a step forward to World Champs around the corner.”

On the tail end of her road to recovery from a serious bout of bronchitis, Yolande Speedy true to her fighting nature raced to defend her SA Champ title even though she knew she’d taken a knock by the illness.  She placed 4th in the Elite category. “Super XC course, great team support & equipment but sadly no legs :(. Well done to all my team mates & to Sam Sanders for a well-deserved SA Champ Title!”

In the Sub Vet category; Paul Cordes and Jan Withaar once again found themselves racing within seconds of each other, Paul finished second to Jan by 10 seconds. Paul did however come first in the Vet B category and won the series, earning him an SA Champion jersey. “I am very happy to successfully complete 2 of my year’s goals but now it’s time to knuckle down and finish off the rest. Also, it was great to see my teammates racing so hard and putting in a huge effort, it makes all the effort feel worthwhile!”

For Nicholas Popich, 2013 had been a year of firsts. He raced his first ever national XCO race earlier in the year at Cascades finishing in an impressive 3rd place. Now in PE, he would be competing in his first ever SA XCO Champs race. In a strong field of Junior men, Popich crossed the line 9th "It was my first SA champs and an unforgettable experience! I have never before been on such a fun course. I had a great weekend with the team.”

Neville Ackermann came 2nd in the Master B category to Graham Taylor and earned himself 4th in the series overall. "A tough XCO Champs  course an well run event. I did not quite nail it on the day but I am looking forward to the Masters World Championship with more confidence and training still to come."

Francois Ebersohn was unfortunately forced to forfeit due to a burped tyre, but because of his consistently excellent results throughout the season, he place 1st Vet in the series.
The ASG Academy has made it possible for these aspiring athletes to work towards and achieve goals they would not otherwise have been able to achieve. The consistency of their hard work combined with the guidance of Paul Cordes and Yolande Speedy has provided them with the opportunity to perform at the top end of this Olympic discipline.

Jozi Night Rider and SA National duathlon - Sonika Le Grange

Jip baby!! What an adventurous weekend!! Well done to all asg_PYcycling team mates with great results, the future is looking bright !

On Friday, 19 July I arrived at the Jozi Night Rider with seconds to spare with  Academy rider Jacques Pretorius already lined up to start. . . Like always it was great fun and very cold ar the Heia Safari Ranch venue, pleased to say Jacques came 4th overall and myself in 2nd women overall. Well done ASG for another successful event!

On Sunday,  21 July I did my very first duathlon. I am still very impressed with the outstanding organisation of the race. I can honestly say the SA National Duathlon was the hardest race I have finished!
The day started out very cold and windy but after the nice warm-up with Christine Popich the legs begun defrosting. The route was flat but very fast, I got cramps in the first 5km run but luckily my HIGH 5 drink fixed it right up... the race went smoothly with a well balanced route. Looking forward to doing another duathlon soon!

I'm happy with my 2nd place in Junior cat, Well done Christine Popich with the win!
Great racing this weekend well done al l the PYcycling "maatjies" :)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Press Release: ASG Academy wraps up the Gauteng Provincial XCO series with a bang

Last weekend the Burry Stander Memorial XCO Series was brought to an end with the Gauteng provincial championships held at Thaba Trails. The ASG Academy finished up the series with more podiums, series wins, and Gauteng Provincial Champ titles.
In the men’s U23 race, Stephan Reyneke had a superb race which earned him Gold along with the title of Gauteng U23 provincial champion and the series winner trophy!
Edwill O’Niell put in an excellent effort coming 3rd in the U23 Category

Francois Ebersohn put out another stellar performance, winning the Vets Provincial Champ title and the series overall.

Neville Ackermann blitzed his competition and won the Masters Provincial Champs title. “I got held up a bit at the start of the race and was lying third but managed to get past Pierre Nel on the first climb. I then had to start the big chase to catch up to Chris Brand who was leading the race and had built up quite a big gap on me. I managed to pass him on one of the climbs about half way through the first lap and went on to build up a nice lead of 2 minutes by the end of the race. It was a very nice but tough course and I was very happy to take the win after being off the bike for some time due to illness and injury.” ~Neville Ackermann

In the ladies race, Amy McDougall came 2nd and earned herself the series winner trophy. “I have thoroughly enjoyed the provincial XCO series! There have been ups and downs but I am very happy to have won it thanks to the support of the ASG Academy and Epic Sports Cycles.”

The ever strong and growing field of Junior men battled it out for the provincial champs title; Nicholas Popich came 2nd to Jeep’s Dylan Rebello, and came 2nd in the series overall, 2 points behind Rebello. “The final leg of the Gauteng provincial series, a tough one but I'm glad to have finished it off well with a second place. Looking forward to the SA Champs!” ~ Nicholas Popich. Joel Hieber came in 4th and Jacques Pretorius also had a top 10 finish.

The Junior ladies put out a good performance; Michelle Benson came 2nd to Jeep’s Jessica Alcock and came second in the series. “Thaba was rocky and rutted as usual, but I enjoyed the route. I'm ecstatic that I finally got the guts to do the gap jump :D.. I can feel training is starting to pay off and I'm happy with my second place.” ~Michelle Benson. Sonika Le Grange rounded up her series in 3rd place.

In the Youth Women’s race, Lynette Benson came 3rd and earned herself 2nd spot in the series, Christine Popich came 2nd and placed 3rd in the series.

Paul Cordes’ top class, consistent performance throughout the series earned him the series winner trophy in the Sub Vet Category even though he didn’t race this weekend due to illness.
The athletes of the ASG Academy have thoroughly enjoyed the Olympic Mountain biking discipline and have excelled in this high level of racing, where mental toughness, technical skill, physical strength and a little bit of luck are all key elements to success in the sport. The next and final challenge is this coming week with the conclusion of the National XCO Series, the National Champs which will be held in P.E. so let’s hold thumbs!!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

ASG Academy lights up Cullinan in lumo.

Last Saturday, the second leg of the Nissan Trailseeker series, the Diamond Rush was held in Cullinan. The 75km course was dusty, rocky and hard riding all the way!

In the marathon, Arno du Toit had his hands full with a field of tough competition including the likes of Gawie Combrink, Matt Brittain, Ben-Melt Swanapoel, Neil McDonnald, Johann Rhabie and Jan Wittaar just to name a few. It was hard racing against the Elites and Arno managed to pull off an impressive 4th overall and 1st U23 “I was in the breakaway riding my heart out to contribute to the pace making. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep it up to the finish line, but I’m pleased with my form heading towards SA and World XCO champs.” Stephan Reyneke had an impressive finish, also in the mix, he came 4th U23 and 10th overall.

Francois Ebersohn continued his consistency and showed more good form, finishing 3rd in the vets category.

The Academy lit up the men’s and ladies’ podium in lumo in the Half Marathon with Nicholas Popich winning overall “The new 40km route had us starting “upward” at some great challenges. Things turned out a lot different than expected; I broke away by running away from my opponents up a portage section! Never the less, I am very happy to take the Junior and overall win!” Joel Hieber finished in 3rdcompleting the Junior men’s podium. “With the mind-set of it being a flat fast race, spirits were high. A group of 3 of us had gotten away, containing Nicholas Popich, Alexander Kuhn and myself. The last few big climbs of the day broke us, I tried to limit the damage, and managed to come across the line in 3rd. Tough day out.” Jacques Pretorius finished in fourth place.

In the 40km ladies race, the newest and one of the youngest editions to the Academy, Genevieve van Coller won the Youth Girls category and the 40km overall! In the Junior category, there was an exciting sprint finish between Danielle Rheeder and Jeep rider Jessica Alcock. The sprint was so close, no one could see who crossed the line first. The decision was left to the race commissars who decided Jessica was the winner. “It was hard racing from the start, I managed to stay with Jessica throughout the whole race… we had a sprint finish!”– Danielle Rheeder. Michelle Benson finished 3rd Junior. “My legs were not feeling great from a hard week of training, so I didn’t have big expectations. The race was flat and dusty, with little place to rest, but I was happy to be on the podium despite tired legs!”

Then the most mature member of the Academy, Neville Ackermann made them proud by winning the Ngwenya MTB Winter Warmer campaign overall on the weekend!

The positive attitude of these athletes is the glue that binds ASG Academy together. They are always pushing for gold, from Youth to Masters, encouraging and supporting each other along the way!

Nissan Trailseeker #2, Cullinan - Nicholas Popich

After missing the first of the Nissan Trailseeker series I was looking forward to leg two in the series held at the Cullinan Diamond mine. Having raced there in previous years it has become one of my favourite venues in the series… it has some steep power climbs! The a[s]g MTB Academy showed up in full force attracting all the attention with our fancy Pinarello DogmaXC’s and striking yellow Rudy Project helmets. Ready to once again make our mark!

On the start line of the 40km I realized that we team mates Jacques, Joel and I were pretty strong together and could dominate the race, but we rather didn’t discus it beforehand. None of us were quite sure how we would feel when the pace gets turned on, Jacques and I were still stiff from the week’s training and Joel had gashed open his head, also during training!

Joel’s fancy little cycling computer showed 11 °C, cold but not unbearable. Jackets off, smash a High5 ISO Gel, one minute to go! The tension on the start line was reduced when an enthusiastic single speed mountain biker dressed in pink feathers and little fairy wings was appointed to be out neutral zone lead out.

Not too long and we were in for a big surprise. It started off with a grueling headwind! The whole bunch felt as if we were coming to a standstill. Every guy for himself trying to tuck in and hide but it was no use. We had to just keep going until we change direction. So far the route was all jeep tracks, funny enough there was only one line to ride… the DUSTY one! You could taste the dust on your teeth and feel it burning your eyes.

Slowly the conditions started taking its toll on the riders and one by one the riders couldn’t keep the high pace. We were about 6 riders left, my team mates the “J”-men (Jacques and Joel) still in contention! A deep sludgy pool of black gunge approached and following that a sandy power climb. Made it through the pool of “tar” but we had to run the way up the climb. To our surprise three of us “broke away” while running our way up. Thankful I had Crank Bro pedals, no clogging up! Time to extend our lead! Alexander put the hammer down.

To my advantage I still had “J-man” Joel by my side and together we kept the pace high but didn’t do too much work. We passed the Epic Sports water point and hearing the crew’s wild cheers gave some extra motivation. Smashed another ISO Gel and downed some High5 2:1… The POWER climbs began!
Sadly I saw my team mate Joel disappear into the dust behind me at approximately 22km into the race. Thereafter we got struck by the sight of the biggest climb on route. I didn’t even bother to ride the first few meters. I jumped off and RAN! My Sidi’s gripped like rugby boots between the rocks and sand. I passed Alexander trying to ride up and funny enough when reaching the top I had more than a 50m lead. This was my chance and I used it!

Dropped my head, tucked my elbows and with 15km to go, raced for the finish! The route became overgrown with bumpy tufts of grass but keeping in mind: The faster you go, the more you flow… I rode harder! It was a relief to reach the summit of the last climb seeing my dad cheering me on. 1 km to go!
I was ecstatic to cross the line first overall and as the first junior. Smiling from ear to ear a very proud team manager Paul Cordes came to congratulate me. Three minutes later Alexander came in and shortly afterwards J & J (Joel 3rd and Jacques 4th) sprinted across the line!

Well done to the Academy with the MANY podiums achieved this weekend and thanks for everyone’s help and support. Thanks Paul, Yolande, Epic Sports and a[s]g!

Looking forward to some SERIOUS racing, SA Cross Country Championships.

Nicholas Popich #TheBadger