Evans wins the race as team mate George seals series title at MTN National MTB Ride Crater Cruise

It will not be surprising if the name of the MTN Ride Crater Cruise is changed next year.

The reason for the change will be that Kevin Evans (360Life) is not prepared to accept defeat in what is considered to be the South African equivalent of the Paris-Roubaix.

On Saturday (8 October) Evans became the first rider who managed to win the MTN Ride Crater Cruise for three consecutive years. He also finished second twice

No wonder that Hannes Koekemoer, the man whose idea the Crater Cruise originally was, said when he congratulated Evans that they might consider changing the name of the race to the ‘Evans Crater Cruise’.

Evans reacted with a wry smile.

“I badly needed to win because I wanted to give something back to my sponsors. I rate this victory as one of the best of my career, especially because the Crater Cruise is not an easy race.”

It was certainly not all plain sailing for Evans.  In that brief moment that he was doing a flying somersault over his mountain bike’s handle bars, he might even have thought that all his hard work had been in vain.

To make matters worse and increase his worries, he heard a hissing sound the moment he hit the ground.

“Of course my first thoughts were that one of the bike’s wheels had punctured, but luckily that was not the case.  What happened was that, when I landed on my back, one of the ‘bombs’ in my pocket went off.”

Actually it was a good day for the 360Life team. David George finished third and, in doing so, made sure that he won the MTN series overall.

Evans’ winning time for the 107km race was 3 hours 27 minutes and 51 seconds. Jacques Rossouw (Itec Connect-Kathea) was second in 3:29:54 and George third in 3:30:05.

As was the case last year, Mannie Heymans (Garmin-adidas) was the early aggressor.  He got away in a break with Pieter Seyffert (Matlosana) and Jock Green (Ghost Do-it-now) practically right at the start.

But their heroics were to no avail because the MTN Ride Crater Cruise is always won over approximately the last 20 kilometers.

The deciding moment came when Brandon Stewart (Itec Connect-Kathea) attacked after 60 kilometers.

His attack put the other riders in a checkmate position and they had to chase him down. That enabled Rossouw to save his legs.

The moment Stewart was caught, Rossouw attacked.

“I did not expect to get away. I was just testing the other riders’

legs. Suddenly I was out in front on my own. Then I heard somebody

shouting: ‘Go…go..go.’  It was Kevin (Evans) urging me on to keep going and I thought “Why not?”.

“That was it. The two of us were out in front on our own.”

Rossouw is quite frank about his confidence during the race.  When he saw some journalists standing next to the road, he raced past them at full speed, signalling and shouting: “How’s that?”

This adrenaline surge and the accompanying jollity nearly cost Rossouw the race because he was not focusing on where he was riding and nearly crashed into the media vehicle.  Luckily he managed to swerve out of the way at the last moment.

Rossouw experienced some bad luck during the last ten kilometres when he punctured twice. This effectively put an end to his chances of winning.

Ariane Kleynhans (Contego/Giant/Sludge) won the women’s race by outsprinting Yolandé Speedy (MTN-Qhubeka) at the finish. Yolandi du Toit (Bizhub) was third.

1 Kevin Evans (Nedbank 360Life) 3hr 27min 51sec

2 Jacques Rossouw (ITEC Connect-Kathea) 3:29:54

3 David George (Nedbank 360Life) 3:30:05

4 Brandon Stewart (ITEC Connect-Kathea) 3:31:20

5 Ben Melt Swanepoel (Specialized) 3:31:23

6 Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN Qhubeka) 3:31:27

7 Nico Bell 3:31:27

8 Neil MacDonald (Team RE:CM) 3:33:05

9 Mannie Heymans (Garmin adidas) 3:33:43

10 Philip Buys (Garmin adidas) 3:34:08