MAURITIUS came to the Berg on Saturday as two young Commonwealth Games 2022 hopefuls won the inaugural Drakensberg Extravaganza 20km mountain bike race at Champagne Sports Resort.
Top juniors Niels Hartmann and Hadrien Maingard are currently in South Africa on a mountain bike training camp with the Russell White MTB Academy in Ballito, and opted to see the Berg and at the same time fit in the 20km mountain bike event.
The two formed the front group with 22-year-old Durban rider Keagan Matthews and the trio quickly built a lead over the chasers. The three were still together with about five kilometres to go, but Hartmann powered away as the trio neared the finish and he was able to eke out a 13-second win in the final climbs.
In the tight sprint for second, Maingard just edged ahead of Matthews to give the Mauritian pair a one-two finish.
Hartmann was very enthusiastic about the event.
“It was amazing. I did not realise there was going to be so much single track,” said the young Mauritian star. “Once we got into the race there was some beautiful single track.
“The route has some incredible scenery with some great trails and good climbs. And with the altitude, it makes for some really good training for us.
“Luckily we are used to the heat in Mauritius so that was fine for us.”
Olivia Reitz was the first women with Tanith Van Druten just 31 seconds behind, and Amy Paulser third just over two minutes further back.
In the trail runs held in conjunction with the mountain bike event, Sanele Xaba and Sue Don-Wauchope were in leagues of their own in the men’s and women’s races respectively.
Xaba was never in trouble as he cruised away to a three minutes victory over the 10km course with Mxolisi Ndlovu claiming second and Petros Hloixgwane taking third.
Don-Wauchope, a top multi-sport competitor who lives a few kilometres from the Champagne Sports Resort, was able to put her local knowledge to good use and beat Miranda Mazibuko by four minutes.
“It was quite hot out there, but at least we had one river crossing so we could have a splash,” said Don-Wauchope after she finished. “I was a bit worried at the crossing, there were some other girls quite close behind so I did wade through, but I did not take the time to stop for a splash.
“It is quite hard when you know the terrain and you are going down, down, down and you know then that you are going to have to go up, up, up at some point. But it was a lovely course.”
Don-Wauchope, who is married to top trail-runner Iain, was excited about the event and sees it growing in the future.
“My kids both rode the 10km today — it was a real family day for us. Iain rode with our son Joshua and our older daughter Abby was just in front of them.
“I think this has awesome potential to grow as a family event. I think that once people know about the event and the beautiful trails out here, there will be lots of people coming to do the Drakensberg Extravaganza.”
Saturday’s mountain bike and trail runs are part of the 10-day multi-cultural festival which started this week in the Bergville / Champagne Valley area of the Drakensberg. On Sunday the road riders get their chance with three events taking place in the nearby Bergville / Woodstock Dam area. The Drakensberg Extravaganza Road Race offer riders the choice of a 84km, 40km and 15km races.
1 Niels Hartmann 50:54
2 Hadrien Maingard 51:07
3 Keagan Matthews 51:07
4 Gareth Marquiss 53:18
5 Matthew Opperman 53:25
1 Olivia Reitz 1:15:17
2 Tanith Van Druten 1:15:48
3 Amy Paulser 1:18:11
4 Nicky Green 1:22:45
5 Adri Craffert 1:22:59
1 Sineliso Sithole 29:28
2 Thabiso Shange 33:49
3 Raymond Swanepoel 34:27
1 Bo-Dene Scott 34:55
2 Abigael Don-Wauchope 38:49
3 Emily Bedingfield 49:46
10km Trail Run
1 Sanele Xaba 37:32
2 Mxolisi Ndlovu 40:45
3 Petros Hloixgwane 44:17
1 Susan Don-Wauchope 48:04
2 Miranda Mazibuko 52:21
3 Cindy Marquiss 57:09
5km Trail Run
1 Quillon Fyvie 25:24
2 Savannah Fyvie 31:15
3 Riley Carr 31:15
4 Heidi Bird 32:20
4 Sandra Bird 36:31