Yolandi du Toit from Team bizhub delivered a sparkling performance to win the senior women’s category at the Nissan Diamond Rush mountain bike race in Cullinan just outside Pretoria this past weekend.
The 66-kilometre event, the third leg of the five-event Nissan Series, saw Du Toit notch up her second win in as many weeks after also taking the silverware at the Medscheme Walkerville Classic the previous week.
The in-form Du Toit was traditionally slow out of the blocks on Saturday – falling as far back as fourth in the early stages – but swept all before her as she picked up momentum towards the business part of the race.
After being pushed all the way last week, her margin of victory was much more comfortable this time as her form continues to improve after a short rest.
Du Toit clocked a winning time of 2:47:37, with Team Ghost team-mates Sanet Smal (2:56:23) and Laetitia Botha (3:03:07) filling the minor placings.
After finishing second to Columbia’s Ricardo Gilardo (DCM) at Walkerville, Ben Melt Swanepoel (Specialized/Mr Price) put in a storming ride to win the men’s race in 2:17:14. He was followed home by Philip Buys (Garmin) in 2:19:51 and Gilardo in 2:21:01.
In the women’s event, Botha took the early initiative as the race headed towards the technical sections. “I could see her in front among a few men, but I was unable to close the gap,” said Du Toit.
“Then Sanet and a few others caught up with me and we formed a small group, but I lost contact on a narrow bridge when some of the riders dismounted and I was unable to pass. Before I knew it, I was down to fourth.”
Du Toit said although she was on the brink of becoming dispirited, she was still feeling great and she started chasing as hard as she could after the technical portion. Her chase soon paid dividends as she rode up to the back wheel of Botha before the 30km mark and then left her behind.
“I felt stronger and stronger as the race went on and about two kilometres later I caught Sanet as well. From there it was an individual time-trial to the finish.”
Although she tended not to approach mountain bike races with a predetermined plan, a circumspect start usually suited her style of racing, said Du Toit.
“In mountain biking there are so many variables that can go wrong on the day, it’s almost impossible to race to a specific strategy. I prefer to take it as it comes.”
The joBerg2c winner said she was extremely pleased with her form after returning from her break, which augured well for the second half of the season.
“I always seem to get better as the season goes on. My diesel engine evidently needs time to get going.”
Du Toit was full of praise for Smal and Botha, whom she said were becoming a “big threat” in local racing.
“But that’s the way I like it. There is a certain satisfaction in winning a race when you had to fight all the way.”
Full Stop Communications
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