The MTN-Energade riders certainly know how to win races.
A quick study of this year’s results tells the story. So far this year MTN can boast with 100 victories and still counting. During the past weekend (23-24 October) it was the privilege of An-Li Pretorius to achieve MTN-Energade’s 100th victory of the year when she won the Jacaranda Satellite race.
The number of victories will undoubtedly change to 101, or even 102, between now and the end of November. It might even happen during Sunday’s OFM Classic (31 October) in Bloemfontein. The Bakwena and the 94.7 Cycle Challenge races are also still to come.
But this is not all. Adrien Niyonshuti might just pull off one or two stage victories during the Tour of Rwanda or even win overall.
The mountain bikers are certainly MTN-Energade’s big stars. With their consistent performances they changed the famous saying that dates back to the time of the Roman empire to: ‘They came….they rode….they conquered’.
Of the 77 local races in which they have competed they won 56. This gives them a winning ratio of 72.73%. They also achieved 23 second place finishes and 10 third place finishes.
Yolandé Speedy (16 victories) and Kevin Evans (11 victories) were the two most successful riders.
One of the season’s definite highlights was the domination by Speedy and Mariske Strauss of women’s racing during the first six months of the year. If Speedy did not win, it was Strauss who was first across the line. They managed seven consecutive first and second place finishes.
With eight victories to her name, Strauss has booked the title of ‘Queen of South African mountain biking’ for herself once Speedy should decide to retire.
Niyonshuti is MTN-Energade’s other big success story. At the beginning of the year he was considered to be just another talent, but as the season progressed he grew in confidence.
He achieved his highlight for the year when he won the King of the Mountain-prime on the Swartberg Pass during the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek, outriding riders like Christoph Sauser, two-time world champion and Olympic medalist, as was well as Max Knox and Kevin Evans. He was also one of the strongest riders going up the Kammanassie Voortrekker Trail.
With his never-say-die attitude, Niyonshuti contested the sprint to the line in three of the six stages. It was, therefore, appropriate that Sauser took his hand as they raced shoulder to shoulder across the line during the last stage. This can be seen as a symbolic gesture of a past world champion taking the hand of a possible future world champion.
As far as road cycling is concerned MTN achieved 44 victories. The men’s road team won 23 of the 49 races in which they competed, for a winning ratio of 46.94%. The women’s team won 19 of their 33 races, for a winning ratio of 57.58%.
The men’s road team boasts with 22 second place and 7 third place finishes, while the women’s team achieved 15 second place and 18 third place finishes.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg was the most successful rider with seven victories and Robyn de Groot won six races.
If there had been be a prize for the most improved riders, Janse van Rensburg and Pretorius would certainly be contenders.
“It really is an amazing achievement for our team to celebrate their 100th win of the season. The MTN team has definitely dominated on all levels this season and we as sponsors are very proud of our men and women. With plenty of racing still to come they can certainly build on this and we wish them well with all the events still to come,” says Bernard Pieters, senior sponsorship manager at MTN South Africa.