With 438 mountain bike riders representing 84 schools all chasing points and the coveted title of Spur Schools Mountain Bike League champion, racing was fierce in hot and trying conditions.
Reigning Gauteng League champions, Menlo Park pulled out all the stops to win the boys’ (118 points) and mixed team (121 points) trophies and walked off with the coveted title of National Spur Schools Mountain Bike League Champions. The girls’ team from Potchefstroom Gimnasium were crowned national girls champions (72 points) with Menlo Park High School taking second place (66 points) and Midstream College claiming third (59 points).
Only one point separated the second and third boys’ teams with Grey College second with 100 points and Paul Roos Gimnasium third 99 points. Parel Vallei High School earned 100 points securing second place in the mixed team category with Transvalia in third place with 94 points.
Setting the pace for a high-speed racing day, the sub junior boys Miguel Mouthino (Midstream), Travis Stedman (Thomas More College) and WG van der Walt (Montana) broke away from the pack early in the race and the chase was on for the top spot.
After leading the first two laps, Miguel crashed out on the final lap with WG van der Walt holding onto the lead to win in a time of 00:45:53 with Travis Stedman of Thomas More College in a close second in a time of 00:45:56 and Marnus Prinsloo of Grey College finishing in third in a time of 00:46:52.
In the youth boys 15 years, Jamie Penfold (PRG) took the lead from the start and rode a stellar race to win in a time of 00:44:56 with Stehan Wolmarans of Hartebeespoort second in a time of 00:44:56 and Adriaan Duminy of Wesvalia taking third in a time of 00:45:11.
Gauteng dominated the top end of the youth boys 16 years race in the first lap with Menlo Park High School’s Chris du Plessis, Wicus Breytenbach of Garsfontein and JP Loyd of Zwartkop leading the pack. After a very competitive three-lap race, Chris du Plessis took first place in a time of 00:43:25, with JP Lloyd second in a time of 00:43:30 and Brendan van Eeden of Potchefstroom Gimnasium in third in a time of 00:43:33 just ahead of Wicus Breytenbach who finished in a time of 00:43:41. Unfortunately, hot favourite, Ryan Conradie (SA junior continental champion) broke his chain on lap one and although it was fixed, he only managed to come in and place at 71st position.
As was expected, the junior men’s race got off to a very fast start with a strong leader pack of eight fighting it out from the first lap. The top three positions were going to be anybody’s taking, but Wessel Botha of Menlo Park High School showcased his skills when he overtook on a single track section on the final lap to take the lead and line honours in a time of 00:58:46, with Pieter du Toit of Volkskool Potchefstroom and Henry Liebenberg in a sprint chase to the finish taking second and third place in 00:58:56 and 00:58:57 respectively.
All the girls’ races were marked by strong competition amongst the front runners with Beani Thies of Wartburg Kirchdorf School winning the sub-juniors in a time of 00:35:09, Kaylin Gombos of Transvalia came second in a time of 00:35:59 and Jone van Eeden of Potchefstroom Gimnasium third in a time of 00:37:21.
Zandri Strydom of Rob Ferreira High School took line honours in the youth girls 15 years at the Spur Schools MTB League National Finals. Mpumalanga youth 15 years champion Zandri Strydom of Rob Ferreira took line honours in an impressive time of 00:33:31 followed by Kelsey van Schoor of St Dominics Priory second in 00:34:58 and Monique du Toit of Menlopark third in 00:35:42.
Tiffany Keep of Thomas More College rode an exceptional race. Not seeded for a good starting position she had to secure her lead before heading into the single tracks, after which she managed to retain her lead throughout to win the youth girls 16 years in a time of 00:50:29 with Thana Groenewald of Midstream second in a time of 00:50:38 and Rimare Sutton of Garsfontein third in 00:52:11.
Daniel Strydom of Potchefstroom Gimnasium won the junior women’s race in a time of 00:52:11 followed by Kirsten Lous of Volkskool Potchefstroom only a split second behind in 00:52:12 and Christie Header of Pietermaritzburg Girls High in third place in a time of 00:52:17.
Spur Steak Ranches handed a R10 000 contribution to school teams that won their respective age categories at the National Inter-schools Finals. “Spending the weekend at the Finals here at Bekker, with so many talented riders and seeing the ever growing support, reinforces the League as something very close to our hearts. By offering this prize money we hope it will encourage the sport within the schools and assist them in further developing their teams,” said Clare Rainey, Spur Brand Development Manager.
The League is affiliated to South African Schools Cycling (SASC), which in turn is affiliated to Cycling SA as a development initiative particularly geared to create a platform for schools to compete against each other and, in doing so, raise the profile of the sport at school level.
On Sunday schools teamed up for the SASC Interprovincial Competition whereby the best 10 results got tallied to crown the best province. Defending champion North West Province, in spite of its size, successfully defended their title as provincial champion logging 242 points. Gauteng finished in a close second with 240 points followed by Western Province in third place with 224 points.