Western Cape XCO Series in Full Swing

Photo credit: Chris Hitchcock

The first of four races in the 2020 Western Cape XCO (WC XCO) Series took place on Saturday, 8 February at the well-known mountain bike Mecca, Bloemendal in scorching heat and dusty conditions.

The organisers designed a unique layout of the trails on the farm to create a track never used before, and subsequently loved by many competitors. “Awesome course, absolutely loved it,” was the response from many riders from all age categories. The event was well supported with 229 entries, and a marked increase amongst the Vets Men and Women’s categories.

Photo credit: Chris Hitchcock

“The objective of the course was to encourage participation in the age groups above Elite category (30 years and older), as well as in all the women’s categories. I think we succeeded in that, and riders can expect a similar approach with the remaining events”, says Louisa Ruwiel, Chairperson of the Western Province Mountain Bike Commission.

The introduction of red number boards for the points leader in each category is a new feature this year which brings excitement for both riders as well as spectators, who can identify the leader on the course.

Racing kicked off with the primary schools’ categories, Sprogs and Nippers. Dominant performances by Camryn Marais (Nipper Boys), Zoë Green (Sprog Girls) and Neil van der Vyver (Sprog Boys) saw them winning their categories by a big margin.

Exciting racing can be expected in the future with strong riders such as Jeandre Ungerer, Robert Nieuwenhuizen and Samuel Cleary moving into the Sub Junior Boys category. Jeandre had been dominant last year in the Sprogs category, and continued that dominance moving up into this category winning by more than 1:30 from Thomas Dunkley.

Results in the Sub Junior Girls category is often influenced by crashes due to technical sections on the course or riders who are not so confident losing time in these sections. Angeliq Coetzer kept the wheels on the ground to win with a margin of 2 minutes from Mienke Boshoff, while Megan Scholtz finished a further 1:40 minutes back in third.

Looking at the lap times of the Youth Men, Junior Men and Elite Men, it is clear that this batch of young guns will elevate XCO racing to a new level. Elite Men’s winner Daniel van der Walt (moving up into the category from Junior Men) lapped the 4,5 km course between 12:31 and 13:44. Luke Moir, winner of the Junior Men’s category lapped the course between 12:25 and 13:18 and Henning Venter, winner of the Youth Men’s category lapped the course between 13:03 and 13:54. His total time would have put him in third position in the Junior Men’s race. It is clear that a generation of very fast young men are coming through the ranks, which is very exciting and promising for the sport.

Photo credit: Chris Hitchcock

Alec Coleske showed his class with a very strong ride to second position behind Henning Venter, despite it being his first year in the new category.  The race in Junior Men’s category was fast and furious from the gun. Luke Moir started with a scintillating lap of 12:25 to open an unsurmountable gap to the others. Behind him it was a battle of who could survive the heat and intensity. Eventually it was Mathew Lochner and Eben Baasden who came home in second and third positions.

In the Elite Men’s race it was a tough battle between Daniel van der Walt and Johan van Zyl, with Daniel just edging Johan every lap. From the fourth lap, though fatigue set in – Johan’s lap times dropped significantly, Daniel took the win by more than 3 minutes while Thomas Hudson finished in third position.

Olivia Penfold moved up into the Youth Women’s category and immediately showed her strength, winning by 1:20. Anna Marx placed second and Kayleigh Scholtz finished in third position.

Racing in Junior Women and Elite Women categories, these riders were intimidated by the entries of Swiss riders Kira Boehm (Junior Women) and Alessandra Keller (Elite Women). Both won their categories by 4 – 5 minutes ahead of the local riders. Stefke Tolmay, second in the Junior Women’s category set consistent lap times to beat Julia Marx in third place by 3 minutes.

Janice Venter put in 2 strong laps on her second and third lap to distance herself from Lehane Oosthuizen. The pair finished in second and third positions in Elite Women’s category.

Entries in the senior categories showed a positive increase, especially amongst the Men. Eight Men lined up for the Vets category and an impressive 13 for the Masters category. Racing in the senior categories were equally tough, but the atmosphere was light hearted and fun as the banter flew between the riders. “Nicknames such as Johnny and Roadie could be heard along the course.”

“We are confident that the numbers will increase in the Women’s categories as the series moves onto the next event at Rhebokskloof on 14 March 2020. “

Full results can be found at www.great-time.co.za