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South African National Cup Series #4 - 2
Cascades, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, April 4-5, 2009
Race 1 - April 4: Cross country
Kurschat suprises field with win while Wloszczowska tops women's field
German Wolfram Kurschat stunned the favourites to secure a dominant victory in the elite men's cross country race at round four of the MTN National Mountain Bike Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on Saturday, while Olympic silver medallist Maja Wloszczowska of Poland, held off the Olympic bronze medallist, Russian Irina Kalentieva, to win the elite women's cross country.
After a poor start, the 34-year-old German Kurschat (Topeak Ergon), who is currently ranked 35th in the world, began to move through the field, riding from 11th place after the first of seven laps and catching the lead group comprising Burry Stander (Mr Price Specialized), Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel (both SCOTT Swisspower), on lap four.
Stander, the Under 23 World Cup champion; Schurter the Under 23 World Champion; and Beijing Olympics bronze medallist and Vogel, the world's third-ranked rider, were setting a rapid pace ahead of the large field, which included riders from 20 countries. The majority of the entrants were using the event to prepare for next week's opening round of the UCI World Cup, to be held at the same venue.
But Kurschat, an agile climber, was in his element on the numerous steep ascents, passing the illustrious trio just before the start of lap five. Spaniard Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida), the world's fifth-ranked rider, also enjoyed a strong second half, replacing a tiring Vogel in the chase trio on the penultimate lap.
Kurschat continued to increase his lead, eventually finishing in 1:54:45 seconds. Hermida's late-race pace saw first Schurter and then Stander drop off on the final lap before he secured the runner-up place in 1:56:17. Stander, cheered on by his enthusiastic home fans, finished half a minute later to secure the final podium place and claim top prize for the Under 23 category.
Schurter and Vogel rounded out the top five places while their Swiss compatriot and current world champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized) finished 10th, after suffering two punctures.
"It was a very good race and a fantastic leg-loosener for the World Cup next week," said Stander. "My plan was to ride hard for the first three laps and then go steady for the rest of the way. It worked out fine, but I did feel my legs are still a bit heavy after last week's Cape Epic. By next week they should be fine though."
"Kurschat was a surprise for all of us. He's a good rider, but normally inconsistent. Hopefully this week was his good week!"
Olympian battle for glory in women's race
Maja Wloszczowska of Poland, fought off a strong challenge from Russian Irina Kalentieva, to win the elite women's cross-country title. The race was dominated by international riders as they ready for the UCI World Cup opener next weekend.
After a steady start for the first half a lap, the front group strung out dramatically on the first long climb with Wloszczowska (Bank BGZ) and Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon) moving off the front and building a small lead on the tough 4.6km course, which has been described as a climber's delight.
Kalentieva was the 2007 world champion and is currently ranked fifth on the UCI rankings, while Wloszczowska, twice runner-up at the world championships (2004 & 2005) is currently ranked 19th and firmly on the comeback trail after a disappointing 2007 and first half of 2008.
Unperturbed by the mid-day heat, the pair of Eastern Europeans set a fierce pace and marked one another closely on the tight course. But on the penultimate lap the 25-year-old Pole managed to pull clear, eventually claiming the victory in 1:43:19.
Kalentieva was less than a minute back in 1:44:14 with American Mary McConneloug (Kenda Seven), currently ranked seventh in the world, finishing strongly to claim the final podium spot in 1:45:21.
Another Pole, Aleksandra Dawidowicz, finished sixth overall and secured the Under 23 category victory, while South African champion, Yolande Speedy (IMC Momentum) finished a respectable seventh overall, just over four minutes behind Wloszczowska.
"It was good to have such a strong international field here. It really is amazing to race against the world's top riders right here in South Africa," said Speedy, adding that her legs still felt a little heavy after the Cape Epic, where she and Paul Cordes finished third overall in the mixed category.
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Images by MTN National Cup
Images by MTN National Series
Elite men 1 Wolfram Kurschat 1.54.45 2 Jose Hermida 1.32 3 Nino Schurter 4.10 4 Florian Vogel 6.10 5 Jochen Kaess 6.18 6 Kristian Hynek 7.33 7 Rudi Van Houts 8.29 8 Matous Ulman 9.10 9 Christoph Sauser 9.37 10 Liam Killeen 10.12 11 Todd Wells 11.47 12 Roan Exelby 13.19 13 Andrew Blair 13.26 14 Robert Mennen 14.31 15 Alban Lakata 14.48 16 Mannie Heymans 16.41 17 Milan Spesny 17.33 18 Marc Bassingthwaighte 18.29 19 Johnny Kritzinger 18.44 20 Mike Broderick 22.00 Lapped 21 Craig Paul 22 Jiri Hudecek 23 Renay Groustra 24 Lukas Flueckiger 25 David Leiman 26 Petrus Malherbe 27 Kashi Leuchs 28 Erik Kleinhans 29 Davy Coenen 30 Tomas Legnavsky 31 Martin Fanger 32 Poloko Makara 33 Martinus Esmeyer 34 Bryce Wickham 35 Gavin Rossouw DNF Andreas Kugler DNS Emil Lindgren Elite women 1 Maja Wloszczowska 1.43.19 2 Irina Kalentieva 0.55 3 Mary Mcconneloug 2.02 4 Janka Stevkova 2.42 5 Magdalena Sadlecka 3.17 6 Yolande Speedy 4.20 7 Ivonne Kraft 16.52 8 Blaza Klemencic 18.42 Lapped 9 Sara Muhl 10 Tania Raats 11 Shawna Thunder 12 Catherine Roberts 13 Hilana Marais 14 Inbar Ronen 15 Carmen Bassingthwaighte 16 Carla Freysen 17 Claudia Van Tutschek DNS Shale Exelby Under 23 men 1 Burry Stander 1.56.47 2 Connor Mcconvey 11.59 3 Matthys Beukes 13.42 4 Max Knox 15.51 Lapped 5 Philip Buys 6 Dominic Calitz 7 Josef Kamler 8 Bryce Munro 9 Stephan Strauss 10 John-Michael Du Preez 11 Hilton Frost 12 Jedson Tooms 13 Louis Caetane 14 Renier Bellingan 15 David Stone DNS Mathias Flueckiger DNS Francois Theron DNS Kyle Symons DNS Obert Chembe Under 23 women 1 Aleksandra Dawidowicz 1.47.23 Lapped 2 Heletje Van Staden 3 Janneke Leask 4 Alexis Zorab DNF Cherise Taylor Junior men 1 Rourke Croeser 1.34.32 2 Ruan Du Toit 2.23 3 Travis Walker 3.55 4 Ryan Ellis 6.18 5 James Reid 7.06 6 Adriaan Louw 8.47 7 Jeandre Fourie 12.42 Lapped 8 Sboniso Ntombela 9 Shaun Silver 10 Mark Bridges 11 Michael Casey 12 Warwick Waldeck 13 Herman Bester 14 Wayne Gerber 15 Graham Chrystal 16 Slahde Seale 17 Petri Van Jaarsveld DNS Colin Brent DNS Justin Pictor DNS Darryn Purtell Junior women 1 Candice Neethling 1.26.34 2 Mariske Strauss 5.41 Lapped 3 Klara Rossouw DNF Caitlin De Wet Sub junior boys 1 Frans Grotepass 1.05.27 2 Alexander Frogley 2.27 3 Alan Hatherly 4.12 4 Jaco Pelser 6.12 5 Neil Robinson 6 Jannes Buijs 9.35 7 Dylan Kirby 9.59 8 Joel Hieber 15.06 DNF Bryce Rawlins DNS Kyle Walker Nipper boys 1 Cameron Wright 33.46 2 Matthew Dinham 0.32 3 Sharjah Jonsson 12.39 Sprog boys 1 Joshua Kuhn 37.12 2 Dieter Blom 1.55 3 Tyler Schonewolf 5.40 4 Julian Jessop 6.05 5 Andrew Hughes 6.59 6 Jordan Pilkington 8.25 Lapped 7 Mikaela Jonsson 8 Chad Hosken DNF Dustin Osborne DNF Cameron Macnair Youth women 1 Hayley Smith 1.19.32 2 Tayla-Anne Odendaal 13.14 3 Courtenay Riggien 13.19 DNF Siobhan Walker Youth men 1 Brendan Davids 1.13.37 2 Luke Roberts 1.22 3 Arno Du Toit 5.50 4 Gert Heyns 8.28 5 Lee Penderis 16.15 6 Patrick Belton 16.23 7 Ryan Gibbons 19.54 8 Werner Van Heerden 21.17 9 Timothy Munro 21.45 Lapped 10 Michael Hughes DNF Ruan Erasmus DNF Ryan Stevens DNF Kyle Wood DNS Bryton Stevens Veteran women 1 Woudie Saaiman 1.13.59 2 Helen Gibbings 11.52 3 Debbie Hughes 16.37 4 Lauralyn Purchase 27.06 Lapped 5 Gail Killian DNS Bridget O'Meara Sub Veteran men 1 Paul Cordes 1.34.40 2 Shaun Peschl 6.12 3 Brett Dickson 8.05 4 Shane Jansen Van Vuuren 9.06 5 Brandon Moore 10.19 6 Daniel Paul 12.01 7 Hennie Kriek 15.34 Lapped 8 Jason Coffin-Gray DNF Piers Morgan DNF Warren Quinn DNF Michael Veal DNF Sean O'Flynn-Madden DNS Louis Horn Veteran men 1 Garth Schonewolf 1.45.45 2 Damian Booth 3.47 3 Arie Olivier 4.28 4 Chris Nel 9.56 5 Johann Wykerd 15.25 6 Gary Neethling 23.42 Lapped 7 Mark Frogley 8 Alfie Dos Santos DNS Allen Dinham DNS Brett Stevens DNS Simon Poole DNS Garth Robinson DNS Sean Quinn Master men 1 Bryan Strauss 1.30.56 2 Tony Stark 5.40 3 Charles Stander 8.39 4 Colin Gibbings 12.01 5 Brian Milne 16.51 6 Arrie Rossouw 28.37 7 Harko De Boer 33.44 Lapped 8 Mark Munro 9 Fred Van Zyl 10 Cobus Du Plessis DNF Charles Nienaber DNS Charles Roberts