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The aQuellé Tour Durban MTB powered by Cycle Lab started the Tour Durban weekend with a couple of surprise winners as Brent Yelland and Rouxda Grobler crossed the line at Cornubia to claim the men’s and women’s 35km titles respectively on Saturday morning.
For Yelland, it was probably the biggest win of his career and he looked a bit surprised after he eased away on the final climb to claim the win. The UKZN student edged out Daniel van der Watt, and juniors Tayne Rudling and Omar Wilson after the four had played a cat-and-mouse tactical race for most of the 35km course.
In the women’s race, Grobler showed a welcome return to form and stepped straight back onto the top step of the podium after taking a bit of a break following a hectic racing schedule earlier in the year that saw her win the Quattro ROAG Series and do well in the Cape Epic and Wines to Whales stage races as a mixed team with her husband Jacques.
On Saturday, Grobler started slowly, but powered away from runner up Hayley Smith on one of the long climbs around halfway of the event.
“This was my first serious race in KZN since the Epic earlier this year,” said the shy Ballito resident. “Hayley was strong early on but about halfway through the race I managed to go with one of the stronger male riders and just kept it consistent up a long climb.
“I thought Hayley was following but when I looked back I saw I had managed to get a gap and that gave me some confidence.”
Smith said she chased but could just never close that gap and ended just under a minute behind with Sanchia Malan third, 12 minutes further back.
Grobler credits her background of training for the Epic, her coach and a devoted husband for her success.
“Since Epic I kept training but just with less intensity, but I feel quite motivated to get back into things again. I definitely felt the distance I did before Epic was coming through today.
“Tyronne (White) from DriveTrain Academy has really helped me with a personalised training plan that is really paying dividends. We do not do too much in his training studio but do a lot on the stationary trainers at home. It is really nice having Jacques also training with me. He is amazing.
“The bikes are loaded for me, he services the bikes and does everything for my riding, he is really good.”
In the men’s race there were a few lead change’s but the four main protagonists were always battling for the win, said Yelland.
“From the gun, Daniel and Tayne went and I was just pushing to stay with them. Then Daniel and I went away and worked together a bit, but missed a turn and that probably lost us a minute, and we had to catch the second group which became the leaders.
“Where we went wrong there was a couple of paths and we opted for the wrong way for a short while and had to turn and get back on course. But we caught the leaders again and ended one and two so it did not really make any difference in the end.
“Then four of us rode together for the last 10 kilometres or so and just chilled until the last climb about a kay from the end.
“Tayne led it out there and then Daniel went and got ahead, and then I attacked and when I looked behind there was nobody on my wheel which was surprising actually. And then I just held it to the end.
“Of course I am always happy to be on the podium, and especially with a win,” said the University of KZN student. “I have not really had any big results before and I have not been riding that much lately so this is a bit of a surprise.”
There were just over 500 entrants in the MTB race on Saturday with the road race starting and finishing at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Sunday. The main 106km race will set off in batches from 6am on Sunday with 90km and 45km rides also on the programme.
aQuellé Tour Durban MTB powered by Cycle Lab – Results Summary
1 Brent Yelland 1:23:49
2 Daniel van der Watt 1:23:57
3 Tayne Rudling 1:24:00
4 Omar Wilson 1:24:09
5 Jedson Tooms 1:27:52
1 Rouxda Grobler 1:30:20
2 Hayley Smith 1:31:16
3 Sanchia Malan 1:43:40
4 Niccy Rademan 1:49:25
5 Kerry Campbell 1:51:17
1 Tayne Rudling 1:24:00
2 Omar Wilson 1:24:09
3 Sean Yelland 1:29:08
1 Jodi McKinnon 1:45:01
1 Rico van Rooyen 1:04:23
2 Craig Hulscher 1:04:24
3 Karel du Toit 1:06:46
1 Natalie Kluza 1:15:16
2 Amy-Jane Newcombe-Bond 1:22:50
3 Fanele Mchunu 1:24:32
1 Chris Mason 1:10:03
2 Michael Doull 1:10:31
3 Bayanda Nene 1:13:26
1 Natalie Kluza 1:15:16
2 Sophia Lombaard 1:38:09
3 Nikita Wilson 1:48:44