Kevin Evans, pic Zoon Cronje
The Mr Price Karkloof Classic would have to rate as one of favorite marathon events in the season, and provides a weekends festival of mountain biking, including night races, cross country events, a spectator thrilling “sprint shootout” and the classic event, the marathon.
The MTN/Energade women dominated the XC race on Saturday, with Yolande Speedy winning ahead of team mate Mariske Strauss. Paul Cordes and Justice Makhale flew the flag for the mens team with Paul finishing on the podium in third place and Justice in fifth.
Sunday morning was the marathon event, attracting about four thousand riders, and the weather was incredible. A warm sunny morning replaced the normal freezing temperatures that I’ve become use to associate with the event. The racing however would be hotter than the temperature.
In fact, I may just as well use my report from last years race as it was almost an identical ride at the front of the race.
The first start loop going into all the singletrack was again where the race split up, I however had some ground to make up as we crossed the polo field and headed out into the main loop. But after about 8km, it was again Burry Stander (Mr Price/Specialized) and myself setting a hard tempo out front, although I’d have to admit that Burry was adamant about stamping his presence on the race and did the lions share of the work. I did my best to follow him and help where I could, but already after the first climb we had opened the gap up to around three minutes.
The singletrack in the race is the absolute highlight of the event, made only better when I can follow the third best ranked XC rider in the world. I was really impressed with how smooth and quick Burry was through these sections and really had “the front row seat” to see the action. I did manage to keep up and hold my own, despite a few close calls and narrow escapes with trees whizzing by.
It was again on the final climb before the last technical descend that Burry put the hammer down just one too many times for me to follow, and again I’d be riding solo to the finish to claim second place behind Burry. By this stage, third place was a sprint finish between Phillip Buys (Garmin/Adidas) and Brandon Stewart(DCM) about 9minutes behind us, with Phillip getting third, Brandon fourth. Fifth place went to Marc Bass, also Garmin/Adidas followed by a great ride with team mate Paul Cordes taking sixth place and Ben Melt Swanepoel seventh.
The womens race was again dominated by our MTN/Energade team, with Yolande Speedy taking first, again, ahead of Mariske Strauss, and Samantha Oosthuisen in third.
Another great weekend away with our team, always a great vibe and team spirit, which reflects in our results.
Next race for me will be my long awaited cross country comeback in George, Saasveld next weekend. It’s been three years since I last competed in a cross country event, and on home soil will be amped to be taking part in it! Not sure what to expect though! I’ll also be spending some much needed time at home with the family before the European racing kicks off in June. Till then, cheers.
1st Burry Stander (Mr Price/Specialized) 2hrs57min
2nd Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade) 2hrs59min
3rd Phillip Buys (Garmin/Adidas)
4th Brandon Stewart (DCM)
5th Marc Bass (Garmin/Adidas
6th Paul Cordes (MTN/Energade)
7th Ben Melt Swanepoel (Mr Price/Specialized)