Tuesday, 6 August 2013

ASG Academy Dominate the USN Cup #5

Last Saturday the 5th leg of the popular local mountain bike series, the USN Cup, was held at the Academy member’s playground; The Big Red Barn in Irene. The “kids in yellow” took charge and all in all achieved 9golds (age cat and overall), 2 silvers and 2 bronze podium positions between the Marathon and Half Marathon.

Arno du Toit won the Marathon overall, he battled it out against his series rival, Jan Withaar who beat him in the previous USN Cup. “Soon after starting I realised my legs felt good, so I made the racing hard right from the start. In the end I only had Jan Withaar with me, but after he made a slight mistake just before the finish I managed to take the win.” Stephan Reyneke came 6th overall and was pleased with his result against a tough field!

In the ladies’ Marathon race, Yolande Speedy and Amy McDougall finished 1st and 2nd respectively. Due to a missing marker, half the field of marathon riders ended up taking a short cut, causing a lot of confusion and upset. McDougall and Speedy did not take a wrong turn resulting in them not crossing the line in their respective positions. Commissures made the decision to give them the winning positions as they were the dominant leaders from the start of the race.“Super fun, fast and flowing course for USN MTB Cup #5 @BigRedBarnSA  today. Happy to take the win! Well done too to all my teammates for their great results!” ~Speedy

In the men’s Half Marathon race, Heinrich Greve came 2nd overall behind Michael Ferreira and 1stJunior “It was a great day in the saddle with the pace very high in the leading group and my legs feeling fresh. Unfortunately for Jacques he had a puncture and fell back. The familiar terrain gave me the confidence to keep pedalling hard and take the category win." Jacques Pretorius was having a great race, but as is with mountain biking, anything can happen! He suffered a burped tyre which cost him valuable time and positions. Still he managed to finish 4th overall and 3rd Junior. “I felt great and was able to make the race hard for my competitors, but sadly lady luck wasn't with me and I burped my tyre about 8 km to go.”

There was a full house podium for the Academy in the ladies’ 30km race with Michelle Benson in 1st, Danielle Rheeder 2nd and Christine Popich 3rdBenson and Rheeder raced head to head for the first half of the race. When a technical section of the route came up, Benson made the most of her skills and opened a gap on Rheeder. Benson managed to keep her lead until the end when she crossed the line in first place. Popich came in 3rd completing the full Academy podium. In fourth place overall was the Academy’s Sub Junior Azulde Britz, who won her age category “The race was great, awesome single and jeep track. It was very dusty but I'm very happy to walk away with a 1st place in my cat and a 4th place overall in the 30km” ~Britz

Another successful race was not without smiles and the positive energy that seems to follow the unique ASG Academy trailer wherever it goes.

SA XCO Champs 2013 - Arno du Tiot

Thus far it's been a rather successful year for myself. I've managed a couple of podiums against some fierce competitors in our u/23 national cross country circuit. Consistent good performances rewarded me with 3rd pro-elite in the National Cup Series and being selected to represent South Africa at the XCO World Champs.

However the fight for the stripes and the title of SA Champ was still on the line and with all the big boys out to hurt each other, it sure promised to be another exciting battle.  For the spectators...

As always the start was extremely fast and very painful. I managed to hang on to the tail end of the lead group for the first lap or so.

Uncomfortable to say the least and as we hit the steep stuff on lap 2, I just couldn't dig any deeper to stay on the wheels in front of me. After recovering a bit on the super fun downhill sections, I pushed hard to close the gap, but it just wouldn't happen.
Rolling onto lap 3 through the start/finish area I could see the lead group sitting and looking at each other for a moment, about 15 seconds in front of me. I thought this was a chance to regain contact so I put my head down and launched a big effort.

Stupid mistake. I came close, but then as they accelerated onto the climb I had nothing left and started going backwards. Travis Walker soon passed me like I was standing still just before we started coming down again. I took a High5 caffeine gel along with a few deep breaths and slowly but surely dragged myself back onto his wheel.

Now racing for 6th and 7th I started losing a bit of focus and never realised that the lead group was actually just around the corner, still only a few seconds in it. Yes, Travis hurt me on the first half of the lap, but then I found myself staring at his big legs on the fast flowing back section. Not ideal.

As we started the final lap I thought he would launch an attack somewhere on the first half which was mostly uphill, so I moved to the front to avoid this situation. I soon realised that I was suddenly feeling really good and started throwing mielies all over the place...
So after putting down the hammer on our last lap, I finished 5th. Exactly 17 seconds behind Luke Roberts in 4th and a minute and a half behind the Champion for 2013 - Rourke Croeser.

Once again I had no hassles with any of my equipment and the support from the ASG PYcycling Academy on and off the bike has been amazing this year. We are lucky to have coaches and mentors like Paul Cordes and Yolande Speedy standing behind us all the way and putting so much back into the sport.
Looking back I realised that none of this would have been possible if it wasn't for their help and motivation and I am truly thankful for that support.

Till next time!!

ASG Academy Feature in National Marathon and Local Mountain Bike Races

Last Sunday the 7th leg of the MTN National series took place in the picturesque village of Hilton in KZN. With some of the best single track in the country, riders of all calibre were in for a treat! As we all know, what goes down, must go up. Kilometres of mind blowing downhill sections had to first be earned in the form of 2300m of uphill grinding in the marathon.

Two weekends ago, all of the Academy members who raced the SA Champs XCO down in PE suffered from a nasty stomach bug which would mean a lot of them stayed at home to recover, and the ones who raced may not have been on top form for a gruelling marathon.
In the Marathon, Amy McDougall and Stephan Reyneke rode in the colours of the Academy. Both having been sick with the stomach bug the Wednesday prior to the race didn’t have huge expectations but gave it their best shot anyway.

Amy McDougall had a cat and mouse battle with Kendal Ryan and Janine King for 2nd, 3rd and 4th for the first half of the race behind series leader, Robyn de Groot. Unfortunately De Groot suffered some technical issues with her chain and had to forfeit. McDougall dropped Ryan leaving her in 2nd place behind King. McDougall started struggling with waning energy levelsand couldn’t keep up the pace. She and King were passed by Christine Janse Van Rensburg at 50km. McDougall pushed through to the finish where she just managed to hold on to her 3rd in a sprint finish against Jeannie Bomford. “I haven’t suffered on a bike like that in a while, started feeling sick and saw my breakfast 3 times during the race. I was glad to have held on to 3rd in the end! The amazing riding made the pain worthwhile and the Pinarello rode like a dream!”

In a highly competitive Elite field Reyneke had a good start, his technical skills a huge advantage on this course. He raced as hard as he could, and despite not being well, finished in a respectable 12th overall and 5th U23. “I found myself in a leading group of about 15 riders which split up drastically in the first twisty single track. Brendan Davis and Luke Roberts put down the hammer, I tried my best to close the gap but didn’t succeed.”

Also racing the Marathon was Edwill O’Neill and Marcel Marais. Both of these youngsters have been working hard with Coach Paul Cordes and have grown from strength to strength in the past few months. Both riders finished in the top 10 in the U23 category. “It was a tough nut to crack!   Very technical route, with lung busting steep climbs! Although it was tough, I had a great time on the bike and happy with my performance; 8th U/23.   My 1st Hilton MTB race was a great mountain biking experience. ~Edwill O’Neill.

Michelle Benson was not feeling well after the same stomach bug as McDougall and Reyneke. She chose not to race flat out, and rode with friend and racing rival Jessica Alcock who was not well either. The two took it easy but made sure to keep their podium positions. They crossed the line together, it was decided that Alcock would take 2nd and Benson 3rd.

Then Saturday was also the start of the Anatomic Spur schools race. Epic Sports was there to fix all sorts of problems on the day and support our young up and coming riders. From our academy riders in the junior cat was Nicolas Popich took a fantastic win over African champ Dylan Rubelo and Jacques Pretorius finished a well earned 7th. Then in the junior ladies Danielle Rheeder finished 3rd and Sonsie a credible 5th.

Heinrich Greve has been following the Babbas Lodge series avidly, he has completed 26 to date and has consistently achieved podium finishes, 5 of which are wins. His 5th win was last Sunday when he won the half marathon. “It was a really fun day at Babba's lodge and my legs were feeling great! The hot weather made me enjoy the racing more than my competitors. I managed to make a successful break away early in the race”

The athletes in all tiers of the ASG Academy are showing that hard work is certainly paying off as they learn, grow and gain confidence through experience. Their next challenge will be the USN Cup this coming Saturday.