This weekend saw the final round of the MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan take place in the Freestate town of Parys, South Africa. In a superb show of class and determination Nico Bell (Team RECM) put in a sterling ride that not only saw him claim the win on the day but also a second consecutive National MTB Series title.
The MTN Ride Crater Cruise Ultra Marathon took riders over 115km in the Vredefort dome and was the final series decider between Darren Lill (Cannondale Blend), Lourens Luus and Bell both Team RECM. The star studded line up turned up the heat through the new technical kloof section that was added to the 2014 event where a select lead group of 8 riders formed containing all the main protagonists barring Lill looked worse for wear after the kloof section that saw his hopes fade for an overall series victory.
The lead group saw Johann Rabie (EAI) Luus and Bell drive the tempo with five-time MTN Crater Cruise winner Kevin Evans (The Bike Shop). Some nervous moments ensued for Bell when he suffered a puncture on one of the fast rocky downhill sections. Bell showed real professionalism keeping his cool and managed to replace the wheel at the tech zone fast enough to be able to rejoin the front of the race following a furious chase back.
It all came down to the last 20km with Evans, Bell, Rabie and Luus exchanging blows. Evans seemed determined to snap the elastic but was unable to shake a determined Bell. The deciding moment came in the final kilometers when Bell seized the knowledge from riding the course the morning and surged into the single track in the lead and crossed the line ahead of Evans who had to settle for second.
“I really thought I had it going into the last kilometers, I was feeling very strong. I remembered the route to be different coming in to the finish from previous years.” said a disappointed Evans afterwards. Bell walked off with a cool R50000 prize purse for the day and a second consecutive MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan overall series title. What makes his win even more impressive is the fact that he did not necessarily have to win on the day to take the series title “I really wanted this win today” he commented after.
In the women’s race the overall series title was already won by Ariane Kleinhans (Team RECM) but the R32000 prize fund on the day made for some exciting racing. Young Olympian Candice Neethling (VeloLife) was the surprise show on the day but it was Theresa Ralph (Club Tribe) who took the win ahead of Garmin’s Yolandi du Toit in second and Neethling topping off the podium in third.
MTN Ride Crater Cruise – Men’s Ultra Marathon(115km)
1. Nico Bell (Team RECM)
2. Kevin Evans (The Bike Shop)
3. Lourens Luus (Team RECM)
4. Johann Rabie (EAI Cycling)
5. Ben-Melt Swanepoel (EAI Cycling)
MTN Ride Crater Cruise – Women’s Marathon(80km)
1. Theresa Ralph (Club Tribe)
2. Yolandi du Toit (Garmin)
3. Candice Neethling (VeloLife)
MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan – Menoverall series classification after 8 rounds
1. Nico Bell (Team RECM)
2. Lourens Luus (Team RECM)
3. Kevin Evans (The Bike Shop)
MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan -Women overall series classification after 8 rounds
1. Ariane Kleinhans (Team RECM)
2. Robyn de Groot (Biogen Toyota)
3. Yolandi du Toit (Garmin)