Penultimate SA Mountain Bike event in Bloemfontein tomorrow

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Al eyes form a Bloemfontein point of view will be on the star cyclist form The Sentraal High School in Bloemfontein at the penultimate round of the 2017 SA National MTB (Mountain Bike) Cup Series (XCO) at Happy Valley Conservancy tomorrow. PHOTO: DERCKSEN OLIVIER

The City of Roses plays host to the penultimate round of the 2017 SA National MTB (Mountain Bike) Cup Series (XCO) at Happy Valley Conservancy tomorrow. The majority of South Africa’s (SA) elite senior men and women, as well as the best in the country in the younger age groups and masters races will line up to either extend their respective leads or close up on the current leaders.

All eyes from a Bloemfontein cycling point of view will be on the excellent sub-youth rider, Chanté Olivier (Sentraal High School), who won the first and second races of the series.

Olivier won the first race in her age group by less than a minute. She was chased by the fighting Chloe Bateson. However, in the second race of the series (Pretoria), it was one way traffic for the Bloemfontein star and she left Bateson in her wake by more than three minutes. Jessica Svacha (third) finished more than seven minutes behind Olivier.

It is expected that Olivier, Bateson and Svacha will all line up tomorrow to battle it out in the presence of Oliviers’ home crowd. If you use the first two races of the series as barometer, only a disaster will prevent Olivier from scoring a hat-trick during the Bloemfontein event tomorrow.

In the race for elite men, sparks are expected to fly once again between the three podium finishers at the second race of the series, Alan Hatherly, Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes. There was not much to choose between them at the Pretoria meeting with Hatherly winning in 1:22,54. Buys followed suit in 1:23:59 and Beukes took third in 1:25:21.

Hatherly’s experience as an Olympic Games participant counted in his favour, but Buys and Beukes will surely have their knives in for him.

The Elite Women’s race in Pretoria saw a battle for the minor podium positions between Ariane Luthi and Frankie du Toit. But, race winner Mariske Strauss controlled the race form the onset, clocking the fastest laps in each of her five laps and claiming victory in a time of 01:27:15 – orchestrating day

light between her and Luthi (second, 1:33:30) with Du Toit stepping onto the lowest step of the podium (third, 1:35:07).
Event organiser Willem Raubenheimer is positive that all arrangements and preparations for the Bloemfontein event are in order to present a top class event.

The significance of this event, like the others in the series, is the UCI Category 1 rating, which allows top contenders in the Elite and junior categories to earn valuable UCI points at the races. This ultimately improves their rider ranking, which is beneficial when competing in World Cups or World Championship events. This particular event is also part of the UCI Junior World Series, which is made up of 27 races this season, across the globe. – RUFUS BOTHA