Hill freewheels to Euro Steel Drak Descent MTB win

Defending champion Andrew Hill was able to cruise to his second stage victory of the weekend in the Euro Steel Drak Descent MTB race in Underberg on Sunday and wrap up a comprehensive overall win in the two-day stage race.

After winning Saturday’s opening stage by just under a minute, Hill (Team Darkhorse Wheels/TIB) was able to ride away from his nearest challengers early on the second stage from Glencairn to Hopewell Farm and added another three minutes to his lead.

Chasing Hill was the Ballito Bicycle Company pair of Tyronne White and Andrew Johnson, who were comfortable winners of the team event with Grant Lavers and Grant Underwood (Team Hattons) second team home in eighth and ninth overall.

Fourth rider over the line was Komborero Bere who claimed second in the individual category, seven minutes behind Hill and five ahead of third-placed Gary Doyle.

“It was a wonderful day out there today,” said a relaxed but happy Hill after the finish. “The rain yesterday had bound the track together perfectly so it was riding very well. The race organisers had changed quite a lot of the track from last year – they put a lot more singletrack in which is always good. Some of the views of the Southern Berg were spectacular.

“I kicked on the first climb soon after the start and only Tyronne (White) came with me. He was in a team and so he waited a bit for his partner and I did not see them again – I was looking back expecting to see them at some point but luckily I only saw them again at the finish.”

The first woman to finish was Bianca Haw who was riding with her boyfriend Andrew Houston who were comfortable winners in the mixed category. Riding for the organising club, the Sani Spoors Legends team, they finished a massive 37 minutes ahead of the second mixed team of Rouxda Grobler and Jacques Grobler.

In the GWK Run the Rivers trail run, Underberg local Phillip Shezi used his power up the hills of the uMzimkulu Valley to wrap up a four-minute win over Ballito’s Steven Erasmus.

Shezi, the 2018 winner, was able to put Erasmus under pressure on the climbs on Sunday and added an extra three minutes to his one-minute overnight lead.

“It was more technical today compared to yesterday,” said Shezi through an interpreter. “Wherever there were uphills I was able to get away which was my plan before the start this morning and it worked out well for me.”

Shezi said was using this event as part of his prepartion for his eighth Comrades Marathon. He is aiming for a top ten which will need some improvement on his best time of 6:16.

In the women’s race, Tarryn Lopez was never put under too much pressure and the semi-local – she lives in Ballito but spends most weekend in Underberg – was able to maximise her enjoyment cruising home to a big win.

She added an extra ten minutes to the six-minute lead she enjoyed after the first stage on Saturday and ended up in an impressive seventh overall. Anja Heenop was second women over both stages, with Sarah Kirk third for the second day in a row.

“Today I had a much better run than yesterday, although today was tougher than yesterday,” said a smiling Lopez after she was welcomed home by her fiancé, Erasmus, who finished second in the men’s event.

“It was more technical and there was a lot more climbing today which I like. We have always felt like this is a second home for us and it is even more special now that we actually have a second home here as well.”

In the GWK Run the Rivers Lite, the winner was Ant Stott who was quickest over the shorter distances on both days. It must have been something of a bitter sweet weekend for Stott who ironically lost his record as the most successful paddler in the associated canoe race.

Andy Birkett picked up his sixth win to edge ahead of Stott as the canoeist with the most wins. Stott, a multiple Dusi winner, won the Drak Challenge five times.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS

Euro Steel Drak Descent MTB
Men
1 Andrew Hill 3.56.05 (1.53.36, 2.02.29)
2 Andrew Johnson (1st team) 4.00.02 (1.54.18, 2.05.44)
3 Tyronne White (1st team) 4.00.04 (1.54.19, 2.05.45)
4 Komborero Bere 4.03.09 (1.54.21, 2.08.48)
5 Gary Doyle 4.08.00 (1.59.11, 2.08.49)
6 Sam Moore 4.08.15 (1.58.32, 2.09.43)
7 Jedson Tooms 4.12.49 (1.58.31, 2.14.18)
8 Grant Lavers (2nd team) 4.13.08 (2.03.56, 2.09.12)
9 Grant Underwood (2nd team) 4.13.12 (2.03.59, 2.09.13)
10 Brodan Symons 4.14.05 (2.03.26, 2.10.39)

Women
1 Bianca Haw (1st mixed team with Andrew Houston) 4.22.47 (2.06.48, 2.15.59)
2 Rouxda Grobler (2nd mixed team with Jacques Grobler) 4.59.08 (2.26.04, 2.33.04)
3 Debrah Thomas 5.20.24 (1st solo) (2.34.29, 2.45.55)

Euro Steel Challenge MTB
Men
1 Charles Hughes 2.10.40 (1.18.33, 52.07)
2 Justin Swanepoel 2.12.45 (1.18.11, 54.34)
3 Nic Burczak 2.16.52 (1.29.41, 47.11)
Women
1 Jennifer Van Rensburg 2.34.32 (1.33.17, 1.01.15)
2 Bronwen Bainbridge 2.49.39 (1.40.25, 1.09.14)
3 Shannon Clarke 3.00.18 (1.42.53, 1.17.25)

GWK Run the Rivers
Men
1 Phillip Shezi 3.16.10 (2.04.23, 1.11.47)
2 Steven Erasmus 3.20.00 (2.05.21, 1.14.39)
3 Delphinus Sauer 3.32.25 (2.13.12, 1.19.13)
4 Sihle Ngcobo 3.36.06 (2.14.41, 1.21.25)
5 Simphiwe Ndingi 3.43.23 (2.18.42, 1.24.41)

Women
1 Tarryn Lopez 3.50.18 (2.24.35, 1.25.43)
2 Anja Heenop 4.06.09 (2.30.56, 1.35.13)
3 Sarah Kirk 4.08.07 (2.32.46, 1.35.21)

GWK Run the Rivers Lite
Men
1 Antony Stott 1.43.31 (48.31, 55.00)
2 Khetukhuthula Vundla 1.46.50 (48.08, 58.42)
3 Tsepo Jama 1.49.55 (52.09, 57.46)

Women
1 Paige Mackenzie 1.55.10 (59.50, 55.20)
2 Meggan Mackenzie 2.03.12 (1.04.18, 58.54)
3 Jade Miller 2.04.15 (1.05.36, 58.39)

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