Brendon Davids (Road Cover) taking the lead during the second stage, in the last major climb at the 4th round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Champagne Valley
Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za
Brendon Davids delivered an emphatic reminder of his ability as a mountain bike racer when he won his first Ashburton Investments National MTB Series title at Round 4 of the 2017 series at Champagne Sports Resort, in the Drakensberg at the weekend.
Although racing mainly in road events for Team Road Cover this year, Davids is a former African Under-23 mountain bike champion in the XCO discipline and he confirmed at the weekend that he’s still a force to be reckoned with on the dirt, winning both stages in dominant fashion in the Men’s marathon event to secure the overall title.
Second place went to Philip Buys of Team Pyga Eurosteel who was second on both stages, with Matthys Beukes, also of Pyga Eurosteel, third on both stages and third overall.
The racing took place on some brand-new trails, built with the support of Advendurance, the event organisers, and which will remain in the area as part of the company’s trail legacy project. There was widespread praise from participants about the new venue and the trails.
“I was blown away by the potential at this venue when we first came to have a look. The first year at a new venue is always difficult, but we got a really good route together, which does need some manicuring. This year we built six bridges and eight kilometres of singletrack and will make improvements and additions each time we visit here in the future. As a venue, Champagne Valley is just awesome,” said Francois Theron of Advendurance.
“I like to call the routes here raw mountain biking. Cattle tracks, some jeep tracks and purpose-build singletrack. Some harsh climbing, including sharp, steep ascents and fast, challenging downhills. This is definitely one of the events that’s more suited to technically strong riders,” added Theron.
Stage 1 was a 67km leg with 1700 metres of ascent. Beukes and series leader, Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out) set a rapid pace from the start, splitting the lead pack up on the first climb. Davids rode across the small gap to them and grabbed the King of the Mountain prize within the first 10km, while Knox didn’t even make it to the KOM, forced to withdraw with a snapped chain.
The riders behind assumed chase mode with Buys the only man able to put any meaningful pressure on Davids. The pair rode close together until a large climb after halfway, where Davids moved clear of Buys to create a more significant lead, which he extended to over three minutes at the finish.
Stage 2 was a distance of 50km with 1330m of elevation. Buys and Beukes set a snappy pace from the gun in an effort to regain some time on overnight leader, Davids. Buys managed to build up an early solo lead, but Davids remained calm and rode a steady pace that eventually saw him reel Buys in and then drop him on the final major climb. He went on to secure his second successive stage win and the overall title.
“Phil and Matthys made my life hard probably from the first corner of the race today. They were attacking and I was holding a steady, consistent pace. I watched my numbers the whole time. When the long climbs came, I reeled Phil back in.
“I’d have been happy to give Phil the stage win if we were together at the end because the overall title was more important for me. But on the last major climb I had a gap on him, so I just kept the pressure on just in case anything happened. I’m just very happy to get my first national marathon series win,” smiled Davids.
“The plan on Day 2 was for Matthys and I to go out hard and put Brendon under pressure. Well done to him. He responded and covered everything. We enjoyed the racing. The trails are awesome here, nice and technical. The climbs suited us but I think we just lost too much time on Day 1,” said Buys.
“We enjoy the two-day format. It helps us prepare for the other stage races like the Cape Epic where the intensity is much higher than before,” added Buys.
“It’s been fast and furious. No-one knew the routes here which made it even for everyone. It’s definitely one of my favourite routes to race now,” said Beukes.
Round 5 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 29 July at Van Gaalen in the North West Province. The venue is less than an hour’s drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria and is expected to draw a large field.
Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017
Round 4, Champagne Sports Resort
Men Stage 1:
1 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 2:46:25
2 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:49:42
3 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:52:23
4 Matt Beers (RSA) Red-E/Cannondale 2:56:29
5 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:58:45
6 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:59:55
7 Wessel Botha (RSA) 3:01:27
8 Declan Sidey (RSA) 3:03:48
9 David Low (RSA) 3:08:15
10 Alan Gordon (RSA) 3:10:11
Men Stage 2:
1 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 1:53:14
2 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 1:54:35
3 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 1:55:50
4 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 1:56:13
5 Matt Beers (RSA) Red-E/Cannondale 1:58:47
6 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 1:58:48
7 Wessel Botha (RSA) 2:02:43
8 Alan Gordon (RSA) 2:02:49
9 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:02:53
10 David Low (RSA) 2:06:08
Men combined final positions:
1 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 4:39:39
2 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 4:44:17
3 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 4:48:13
4 Matt Beers (RSA) Red-E/Cannondale 4:55:16
5 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 4:57:33
6 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD Pro 5:02:48
7 Wessel Botha (RSA) 5:04:10
8 Declan Sidey (RSA) 5:11:44
9 Alan Gordon (RSA) 5:13:00
10 David Low (RSA) 5:14:23
Males combined – final positions
1 Pieter du Toit (RSA) 2:56:50
2 Brendan van Eeden (RSA) 3:03:08
3 Marc Oliver Pritzen (RSA) 3:03:33