Nico Bell triumphed in his own backyard when he took two of the three stages to sprint to victory in the Takealot Jock Classic road cycle race in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, today.

Riding for NAD Pro, the 35-year-old from Nelspruit shaded Reynard Butler, defending champion David Maree and Travis Barrett in the race for the line to win the three-stage one-day event for the first time.

After winning the first stage, he also took the final 62.3km stage in 1:33:25 for an overall time of 3:53:58.

Maree, of Team Enza, was second in 3:53:58, followed by Travis Barrett (OfficeGuru Racing) in the same time.

The three stages took cyclists on a 150km route from Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit through White River and Sabie before ending back at the stadium.

Bell, who turned his focus from the road to mountain-biking in 2011, said the victory was especially sweet as he had health issues at the beginning of the year. His triumph suggested he was returning to his best form.

“It was a very nice one to win because I had an operation at the beginning of the year as I had been struggling with my stomach,” he said.

“But I am back to regular training and I feel my form is coming back. I don’t have any of the previous issues and it is nice just to ride the bike as hard as you can.”

After taking the first stage of 40.9km over Maree in a sprint finish, Bell said they conceded the second stage of 45.4km to Alex Worsdale.

“Alex had lost some time on the first stage and he rode away from the beginning, so we just let him go.

“Coming into the finish I just made sure I went full gas into the corner and was able to come in second, just ahead of David.”

Heading into the final stage, Bell said he felt Maree was the one to beat and although there was a breakaway near the end it was brought back and the stage developed into a sprint finish.

“David, Travis and I were all on the same time and coming up to the stadium Travis attacked up the left.

“Luckily I saw him coming and went straight onto his wheel and then I managed to come around him to the line.

“There was quite a bit of rough paving towards the end and I felt, being a mountain-biker, I gained better traction because I could distribute my weight better and I was able to get a gap on him.”

Bell paid tribute to his young teammate, Wessel Botha, who did a lot of work during the race to help him take the win.

“It was just the two of us in our team so we were up against it,” he said, “but Wessel did a great job of working to cover attacks and to pace me into the final stretch.

“He is a very talented young rider and the win was satisfying because we knew it would be tough.”

Carla Oberholzer of Demacon Ladies Cycling Team retained the women’s title by winning all three stages for an overall time of 4:30:51.

She was followed by Parys Edwards (4:32:18) and Samantha Sanders (4:35:26).

Having worked hard to build up a 45-second lead going into the final stage she said she was able to extend her lead all the way to the finish.

“Up the climb to the stadium I managed to put in a final attack to ensure I stayed in front for a good day on the bike,” she said.

“We are working towards some big goals and it is good to know the training is on par and the fitness is coming on nicely.

“There is still some improvement required, but this is a big confidence-booster at this time of the year.”

Oberholzer said one of her main goals was to try to gain selection for the national team to compete in the UCI Road World Championships in Britain in September.


Stage one, 40.9km

Elite men

1 Nico Bell 1:05:00
2 Travis Barrett 1:05:00
3 David Maree 1:05:01
4 Casper Kruger 1:05:04
5 Steven van Heerden 1:05:05
6 Wessel Botha 1:05:18
7 Reynard Butler 1:05:18
8 Andrew Edwards 1:05:18
9 Keanan Roodt 1:05:19
10 Brandon Downes 1:05:21

Elite women

1 Carla Oberholzer 1:15:55
2 Parys Edwards 1:16:13
3 Samantha Sanders 1:16:43
4 Zanri Rossouw 1:16:57
5 Sanet Coetzee 1:17:20

Stage two, 45.4km

Elite men

1 Alexander Worsdale 1:15:05
2 Nico Bell 1:15:33
3 David Maree 1:15:33
4 Steven van Heerden 1:15:33
5 Travis Barrett 1:15:34

Elite women

1 Carla Oberholzer 1:27:11
2 Samantha Sanders 1:27:36
3 Parys Edwards 1:27:38
4 Zanri Rossouw 1:29:33
5 Sanet Coetzee 1:34:30

Stage three, 62.3km

Elite men

1 Nico Bell 1:33:25
2 Reynard Butler 1:33:25
3 David Maree 1:33:25
4 Travis Barrett 1:33:25
5 Flavio Venceslau 1:33:27
6 Andrew Edwards 1:33:27
7 Casper Kruger 1:33:28
8 Asher Biggs 1:33:28
9 Henry Neethling 1:33:29
10 Brandon Downes 1:33:29

Elite women

1 Carla Oberholzer 1:47:45
2 Parys Edwards 1:48:27
3 Samantha Sanders 1:51:07
4 Sanet Coetzee 1:51:13
5 Zanri Rossouw 1:51:24

General classification

Elite men

1 Nico Bell 3:53:58
2 David Maree 3:53:58
3 Travis Barrett 3:53:58
4 Casper Kruger 3:54:06
5 Wessel Botha 3:54:21
6 Andrew Edwards 3:54:21
7 Keanan Roodt 3:54:26
8 Asher Biggs 3:54:26
9 Brandon Downes 3:54:30
10 Myles van Musschenbroek 3:55:04

Elite women

1 Carla Oberholzer 4:30:51
2 Parys Edwards 4:32:18
3 Samantha Sanders 4:35:26
4 Zanri Rossouw 4:37:53
5 Sanet Coetzee 4:43:03

NAD MTB Pro’s Nico Bell crosses the line to win the third stage and overall honours in the Takealot Jock Classic road cycle race over 150km at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, today. Photo: Henk Neuhoff

Issued by: Full Stop Communications