Included in the Limpopo team who competed in the second round of the 2017 SA National MTB Cup Series XCO at Wolwespruit (Pretoria) the past weekend, were ten riders from Louis Trichardt. Pictured are (in front from left to right) Marno van Zyl, Kombo Bere (former member of the Louis Trichardt High School mountain biking team and currently member of the African mountain biking team, team PYGA Euro Steel), Christelle Coetzer, Karla van Zyl and Jennavieve Truter. At the back are Jean le Roux, Zwivhuya Mureri, Richard Lambert, Rofhiwa Kutama and Rohan Cronjé. Photo supplied.
Date: 21 April 2017 By: Andries van Zyl
Limpopo was well represented during the second round of the 2017 SA National MTB Cup Series XCO at Wolwespruit (Pretoria) on Saturday, 15 April. The province could even boast with two podium finishes after the race.
Included in the Limpopo team were ten riders from Louis Trichardt who took part under the auspices of Soutpansberg Youth Cycling Development (SYCD). “The aim of the weekend was to give promising young local cyclists a taste of the ‘big leagues’ and to take their cycling skills to a higher level in preparation of the upcoming school’s XCO league,” said Stanley Thompson of SYCD.
A “taste of the big leagues” is exactly what the local riders got, especially in the Elite Men’s category where local rider Marno van Zyl, among others, competed against former High School Louis Trichardt team mate Kombo Bere. After finishing school last year, Kombo was drafted into the pro-riding circuit and currently forms part of the African mountain biking team, team PYGA Euro Steel, with team mates Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes. Buys and Beukes are two of South Africa’s top professional mountain bikers, the pair finishing seventh overall during the gruelling Cape Epic as part of team PYGA Euro Steel a few weeks ago. Both Buys and Beukes boast an impressive array of stage and race wins both nationally and internationally, with Buys being a former South African Olympiad competing at the 2012 Olympic games in London. That same year, he was also the winner of the South African XCO series, as well as African Continental Champion.
It was hard work for Van Zyl to keep up with the pro-riders, finishing 30th overall a few minutes behind Bere. Bere, who struggled with a technical problem on his bike, finished 29th overall. The Elite Men category was won by another South African Olympiad, Alan Hatherly, with Buys coming in second and Beukes finishing third. Hatherly, who represented South Africa at the Rio Olympics last year, was also the 2016 under 23 African Continental Champion, as well as national XCO pro-Elite series winner. He also finished 17th in the under 23 category at the 2016 World Championships.
Another one of High School Louis Trichardt’s star mountain bikers, Richard Lambert, also had to work hard in the Junior Men category at Wolwespruit. Definitely a contender for top position in Limpopo during this year’s school’s XCO league, Lambert got stuck at the back of the pack following two major crashes in front of him. Losing valuable time because of the crashes, there was just too much for him to do to try and catch up with the leaders. He finished 19th overall.
The only local rider who managed a podium finish at Wolwespruit, was Christelle Coetzer who boasted an impressive second place in the Youth Women category. Christelle is no stranger to the podium and is working hard to finish top of the log during this year’s XCO school’s league in Limpopo. Also competing in this category were High School Louis Trichardt team mates Karla van Zyl and Jennavieve Truter who finished 11th and 12th overall.
The Youth Men category also saw three local riders compete. The best performance came from Rohan Cronjé (High School Louis Trichardt) who managed a 39th overall position. Rofhiwa Kutama (Ridgeway College) finished a couple of minutes behind him in 40th overall position, while Jean le Roux (High School Louis Trichardt) was 41st overall. Zwivhuya Mureri (Ridgeway College) finished 43rd overall.
The other cyclists from Limpopo who performed well at Wolwespruit were young Frederick Willemse (Polokwane) who finished 8th overall in the Nipper Boys category. In the Nipper Girls category, Jana Kotze (Polokwane) managed a 4th place. The other well-deserved podium finish, apart from Christelle Coetzer, for Limpopo game from Lillian Baber (Waterberg) who won the Sprog Girls category. Lianke Fourie (Mookgophong) was 6th in this category, followed by Carla Kotze (Polokwane) in 7th place. In the Sub Junior Boys category, Josh Baber (Waterberg) finished 6th overall, followed by Herman Fourie (Mookgophong) in 7th place, Ruan Jansen van Vuuren (Polokwane) in 8th place and Jarred Watridge (Polokwane) in 15th position. Benjamin Baber (Waterberg) was 19th in the Youth Men category.
Limpopo riders have a busy time ahead of them in preparation of the national final of the school’s XCO league on 7 and 8 October at Bekker High School in the Magaliesberg. The Limpopo league will be decided over four rounds, namely Tour de Plaas (Merensky) on 29 July, Tour de Nyl (Modimolle) on 12 August, Tour de Lake (Stanford Lake) on 2 September and Tour de Lip (Schoemansdal) on 16 September. The first two rounds of the league will be decided at new venues, but before these rounds, the first of the Limpopo XCO league will be decided in the Waterberg on 29 April, followed by the Turbi Hills MTB Race (Roodewal) on 13 May. Although the Kremetart road races will not take place this year, the Kremetart XCO will be hosted on the weekend of 3 and 4 June. The annual SYCD training camp for cyclists will also take place at the end of July, just before the start of the school’s league.
Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.