To go one better will always be the greatest challenge in any sporting event.
David George (360life), who was all smiles on Saturday afternoon (15 January), had every reason to be satisfied with himself, because he had just won the MTN Attakwas ultra-marathon (121 km from Oudtshoorn to George). This event is generally considered to be one of South Africa’s toughest endurance events.
Last year George finished second.
As was expected, the two Germans, Stefan Sahm and Karl Platt (Team Bulls), three-time winners of the Cape Epic, played a major role in the race. Having raced in front with George for approximately the last 50 kilometers, they eventually finished second and third respectively.
Max Knox (DCM), who came third, last year, finished fourth and Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN/Qhubeka) was fifth.
Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin-adidas) won the King of the Mountains prime.
George explained afterwards that he was on a mission.
“360life is one of the newest sponsors in South African mountain biking. It was, therefore, important for me to achieve a good result in order to prove to 360life that their confidence in Kevin Evans and me was justified. By winning I have put 360life on the proverbial scoreboard. Hopefully this will be just the beginning. But I certainly have a long way to go as far as my physical condition is concerned. I am definitely not in top form yet.”
With his victory, George made sure that the Attakwas title remained in the ‘family’, because last year’s winner was his teammate, Kevin Evans.
Evans missed out on the race because he had to undergo an appendectomy three weeks ago.
According to George the Garmin-adidas riders were the early aggressors who set the pace.
“I am not sure what their tactics were, because by the time we got through the Attakwas all the Garmin-adidas riders were off the pace. Stefan (Sahm), Karl (Platt) and I were riding in front on our own. Max (Knox) and Adrien (Niyonshuti) were the only two riders who were in a position to catch up with us, but we dropped them towards the end of the race.”
George received a slight scare during the last few kilometers when his bike slid from underneath him while he was going through one of the corners. Luckily no damage was done and he was back in the saddle in two ticks. A few drops of blood on his knees were the only proof that he did not ride a totally faultless race.
“It was exciting and rewarding for me that I was able to stay with the race leaders, even through the toughest technical sections. Usually, on a super technical race such as the Attakwas, I would be one of the first riders to be dropped.
“I think I have proved to myself that my technical skills have improved since last year.”
George was full of praise for the race presented by the Dryland Events team.
“The MTN Attakwas is definitely one of the best organized races on the local calendar.”
The MTN Barberton race on 29 January will be the next big challenge for George and Evans.
“It will be helpful if we can achieve another good result in the series, seeing that we will miss the MTN Clarens and Sabie events due to the Tour of South Africa. To make sure that we will be competitive, Kevin and I are planning to do some high altitude training beforehand.”
Knox was not too despondent about finishing one position worse than last year.
“I had a good race. Unfortunately I started to cramp on the last big hill. It became so bad that I had to stop and stretch my muscles for a few seconds before I could continue racing. Even though I was only a few seconds behind the leaders, it was impossible for me to catch up because I was on my own and racing against a headwind.”
Ariane Luthi from Contego won the MTN Attakwas women’s race. Yolandé Speedy (MTN/Qhubeka) finished second and Ischen Stopforth (Bizhub) was third.
For full results and more info visit www.mtncycling.co.za