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South African National Cup Series #4 - 2

Cascades, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, April 4-5, 2009

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Race 1 - April 4: Cross country

Kurschat suprises field with win while Wloszczowska tops women's field

Germany's Wolfram Kurschat powers up a climb on his way to victory
Photo ©: MTN National Cup
(Click for larger image)

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.

South Africa's Burry Stander and the Swiss pair of the Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel,
Photo ©: MTN National Cup
(Click for larger image)

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

Germany's Ivonne Kraft, Russia's Irina Kalentieva, Poland's Maja Wloszczowska and Slovakia's Janka Stevkova
Photo ©: MTN National Cup
(Click for larger image)

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.

Poland's Maja Wloszczowska
Photo ©: MTN National Cup
(Click for larger image)

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.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


8 Mark Munro                      
9 Fred Van Zyl                    
10 Cobus Du Plessis               
DNF Charles Nienaber              
DNS Charles Roberts