Team bizhub’s Yolandi du Toit shook off the after-effects of the previous day’s national cross country championships to successfully defend her title at the Medscheme Walkerville MTB Classic just south of Johannesburg on Sunday.
The 25-year-old from Heidelberg in Johannesburg, who placed fourth on a technical course in Pretoria on Saturday in only her second cross country race, led from start to finish on a wind-swept day to finish the demanding 60km race in 2:27:51.
Hot on her wheels were Catherine Roberts (Specialized/Mr Price) and Sanet Smal (Team Ghost), who stopped the clock on 2:31:30 and 2:34:04 respectively.
The men’s race delivered a surprise when unknown Columbian Ricardo Gilardo, a new signing by DCM Chrome, won the men’s section in a fast 1:56:39.
Ben Melt Swanepoel (Specialized/Mr Price) was second in 2:02:07 and Renier Bellingan (USN) third in 2:02:19.
“I went as hard as I could from the start to try and establish a gap and probably paid for it in the last 10km,” said Du Toit, noting that the previous day’s effort had taken its toll.
“Because it’s such a fast course, I wanted to use the drags in the early parts to lay a foundation for possible victory.”
However, her tactics saw her “blow up” in a big way towards the end and she said she became concerned that her opponents would eat into her advantage.
“The fact that I didn’t have any time gaps and no idea who was chasing made things even worse. It felt like I was standing still in the wind at times.”
Du Toit said the nature of the course did not allow any recovery time, which made it a tough race – especially in the conditions.
Having won the inaugural Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c and N3TC Greytown Classic before her winter break, she also had Walkerville penned down on her list of priorities for the year.
“As the defending champion, I really wanted to do well. It is also a nice way to start the second half of the season.”
Du Toit said she was also “extremely pleased” with her cross country result in Pretoria. “Even though it might not look so good on paper, I’m more than happy considering my level of experience and the technical nature of the course.”
The race was won by MTN’s Yolande Speedy.
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