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TOP THREE BACK FOR ROUND TWO

BRENDON Davids will aim to equal mountain biking great Burry Stander by claiming his third Compendium Hill 2 Hill victory in a row on Saturday.

Davids last year became just the second rider after Stander to successfully defend his title in the tough 100km ultra marathon between Pietermaritzburg and Hillcrest. Stander claimed victory in the first three Hill 2 Hill marathons from 2006 to 2008, which means Davids will be aiming to match the former Junior World Champion when he targets his third win in a row on Saturday.

Brendon Davids win the 2016 Compendium Hill 2 Hill after a long solo break. Photo: Jon Ivins.

A lot has happened since Davids defended his title on South Africa’s biggest 100km ultra-marathon last year, most notably was Davids’ switch from one of the country’s most promising mountain bikers to become one of the riders to beat on the road.

Just a couple of months after his second Compendium Hill 2 Hill win, as an unsponsored rider, Davids won the 94.7 road race in Johannesburg and then this year he has been in incredible form once again with his new RoadCover team, winning the recent KZN Summer Series race as well as helping his teammates to a series of wins all over the country.

So, when Davids returns to his home town of Pietermaritzburg on Saturday to start the defence of his title he will be confident he can lead the pack home again.The course has been significantly changed but it is clear Davids will be the outright favourite despite concentrating on his road riding for most of the past 12 months.

But with all three of the top riders back from last year, as well as few of the young guns hoping to make their mark in the KZN mountain biking scene and it is clear that Davids may find things tough this year.

Travis Walker and Andrew Hill filled second and third positions respectively in 2016 and both are aiming to improve on their results this year. Walker is always very strong on the long ultra-marathons.

Despite his name suggesting otherwise, Hill is the race’s nearly man with a series of top 10 finishes, including a second position in 2015, but never a win yet.

Other riders who could be in the mix at least for the early part of the race if not on the final, brutal race-deciding climbs late in the event include Matthew Wilkinson, David Low, Leeroy Emslie, Andrew Johnson and Jedson Tooms.

In the women’s race two time race winner Jeannie Dreyer is the clear favourite and as the race gets longer she will in all likelihood become stronger, but there are two young guns who could pull off a surprise.

19-year-old Christie-Leigh Hearder has been a revelation this season and has been impressing the top riders in all events, but the distance may prove to be too much of a challenge for her young legs, while Candice Parker-Dennison also poses a threat.Saturday sees the 100km race from Alexandra Park in Pietermaritzburg to Shongweni in Hillcrest, while a 15km event takes place at Shongweni. The traditional 45km standard Classic distance Compendium Hill 2 Hill from Cato Ridge takes place on Monday, along with a new additions to the Hill 2 Hill weekend, an 8km and a 16km trail run at Shongweni.

The Compendium Hill 2 Hill MTB Marathon is the third leg of the Roag Series.

Current Quattro ROAG MTB Series Standings(after two rounds)

Men

  1. Stuart Marais 186pts
  2. David Low 142
  3. Leeroy Emslie 138
  4. Jedson Tooms 111
  5. Julian Jessop 100
  6. Hendrik Bester 93
  7. Brennan Anderson 87
  8. Matthew Wilkinson 84
  9. Andrew Johnson 74
  10. Gareth Cook 73

Women

  1. Natalie Bergstrom 186
  2. Christie-Leigh Hearder 160
  3. Belinda Mason 112
  4. Cherie Redecker 100
  5. Tarryn Morgan 98
  6. Linda Erskine 77
  7. Colette Kriek 74
  8. Rouxda Grobler 64
  9. Frances Marsburg 64
  10. Desiree Chantal Verwey 64

Current Quattro ROAG Trail Running Series

Men

  1. Mark Mackenzie 174
  2. David Mercer 120
  3. Haydn Bam 115
  4. Mthokozisi Chamane 100
  5. Lungisani Majola 86
  6. Dane Davies 86
  7. Jason Clarke 74
  8. Craig Brigg 56
  9. Mark Thom 51
  10. Michael Hind 47
  11. Rene Risch 47

Women

  1. Wendy Mills 186
  2. Alison Wasserfall 160
  3. Amy Burger 100
  4. Holly Gordon 74
  5. Leigh Newell 74
  6. Astrid Schroder 64
  7. Nicola Marx 56
  8. Gina Mazzoni 56
  9. Shenne Davies 51
  10. Gillian Jevon 51