Renier Bellingan (USN) won Nissan’s Fast and Furious pro-elite race on Saturday (19 June) after he joined forces with Waylon Woolcock (Medscheme) to outride the MTN riders.
Woolcock was second and the South African cycling legend, Andrew McLean (Cyclelab), finished third. Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN-Energade) was fourth and Justice Makhale (MTN-Energade) fifth.
According to Bellingan, the race started in earnest right from the word go.
“A group of seven riders, consisting of HB Kruger, Paul Cordes, Woolcock, McLean, Niyonshuti, Makhale and me, managed to get away in a break almost immediately.
“Kruger caught us all napping when he launched a second attack early during the race. At that stage none of us were prepared to chase him down, which meant that he, slowly but surely, increased his lead.
“Because there were three MTN riders in the breakaway, Waylon and I decided to work together. It was not the first time that we have done that. Somehow we just ‘gel’ together very well during races.
“We were involved in quite a tactical battle with the MTN riders who, unfortunately, seemed to experience a series of bad luck.”
The mountain bike of Cordes (MTN-Energade) became entangled with some barbed wire, after which he had to chase hard to catch up with the front riders again. Shortly afterwards, Niyonshuti was forced to stop after a nail got stuck into one of the wheels of his mountain bike.
Cordes stopped to help. He was on the verge of giving his wheel to Niyonshuti, because the rider from Rwanda is currently the leader in the Nissan series, but then the two riders realized that the better option would be to push the nail deeper into the wheel so that it could serve as a plug.
“However, Adrian still had to stop a few times during the race to pump his wheel,” Cordes said.
According to Bellingan, he and Woolcock just kept on riding at a comfortable, consistent pace while Cordes and Niyonshuti battled to fix the puncture, hoping to wear down the MTN riders. They managed to catch up with and pass Kruger with about ten kilometers to go.
The deciding point in the race came when Woolcock put the hammer down hard on a tarred road climb. Only Bellingan was able to stay with him.
They opened a gap of about 20 seconds on McLean and Niyonshuti.
During the last kilometer, when matters became somewhat technical, Woolcock could not keep up with Bellingan.
“I felt really bad to ride away from Waylon, especially because we had worked together so well,” Bellingan said.
Woolcock, who is actually a roadie, had no hard feelings. Nissan’s Fast and Furious was only his fifth official mountain bike race and finishing second was the best that he had ever accomplished.
The Medscheme riders are certainly making their presence felt in the Nissan series. In the first race of the series at Tyger Valley, Neil MacDonald finished second.
Woolcock said there is a good reason why he and MacDonald have begun to compete in mountain bike races more often.
“After this year’s Giro del Capo which was dominated by Burry Stander, Kevin Evans and David George, I realized that the mountain bikers really have an advantage when the racing gets tough, because they are used to push themselves to the limit.
“Unfortunately, our local road races are nothing but fun rides. Riders like Neil and me, who only perform at our best in longer races, have basically no chance of winning on the road because the races are so short. “
It should be no surprise that Yolandé Speedy (MTN-Energade) won the women’s race and Mariske Strauss (MTN-Energade) finished second. Leatitia Botha (Ghost/BBT) was in the third place.
Speedy and Strauss have now managed to finish first and second in eight races.
Some rider feedback on the day:
“The Nissan ‘Fast & Furious’ event was great : speedy and fun. Thanks a lot for organizing it.” – Guillaume
“Thank you very much for an excellent race, the course and organization was excellent” – Chris
“Thank you to you and the rest of your team for the fantastic and well organised events you guys run. They are always brilliant to ride!” – Martin Bruning
Waylon Woolcock on his best mountain bike event to date, “I enjoyed the race despite not being at very good form just yet, this is my best performance of the few mountain bike races that I have competed in. I hope to be able to make it onto the top step of the podium one day, as these type of races really interest me. This Nissan MTB series has been very well organized and well marked, making them a pleasure to race, and still challenging enough in the rough!”
“Thanks to Fritz, Wessel and the team from Advendurance for an awesome event again (Nissan Fast and Furious)….This time I finished (thanks to the tubeless conversion from FPC Irene)…have to recommend tubeless to ALL MTB riders…” – Neil Cantrell
Images couresy Zoon Cronje