Local riders keep pro’s on their toes at Gem Diamonds Kalahari challenge

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Mountainbike: Gem Diamonds Kalahari challenge

The 12th edition of the Gem Diamonds Kalahari Challenge saw healthy competition between local and international riders.  The event took place from the 9th – 11th June 2017 with over 220 riders racing for cash prizes of over P155 000 (Approximately R195 000).

After a tough two days and a strong headwind, the third and final 65 km stage was fast and technical. Going into the final stage, Timothy Hammond & Derrin Smith (Team Spot Africa) were leading the Full Open Men’s race with a solid 00:54:00 lead ahead of BK Bokamoso & Pontsho Makana (Team Lefty Boys) and a 00:29:00 lead in the General Classification.

Botswana teams shone brightly this year with Hammond & Smith coming across the finish line in first in 02:51:20, taking the top spot in the General Classification and Open Men’s category with a total time of 10:18:13. Hammond is a previous Kalahari Challenge victor; taking the Solo Men’s title in 2015 and Full Team win in 2016.

Three time winner, Tim Hammond said, “This is Botswana’s biggest cycling event and it’s the atmosphere and relaxed race format that brings me back year after year. The highlights of 2017 was definitely the AVANI Gaborone Resort & Casino Bush Pantry and the St. Louis Lager Chill Zone. The fires, friends and camp atmosphere really makes this event magical.

Being my 4th Kalahari Challenge, I understand the terrain and navigation. Derrin and myself also have some good miles in our legs after the recent Cape Epic and Sani2C. Our strategy was to take the first 30min of each day to warm up and let other teams do the navigation. From there we would go hard on the climbs – which is where we felt we had an advantage and kept the pace consistent on the flats. We also made sure to approach the descents with caution to avoid any race-ending flats.

Next across the line, just 1 second behind the leaders, was the Team Botswana Duo of Sean McCormick & Kyle Poppleton. The Botswana natives finished the stage in a time of 02:52:01 and claimed second in the General Classification and top spot in the Sub Vet Category.

The Solo Full race was hotly contested this year with Greg Anderson & Craig Denbury going into the third stage with only 4 minutes between them. Ultimately, Denbury took the Solo Full win with a total time of 10.49.30. Anderson put on a power performance to claim second place with a time of 10.50.06 – despite a recent hit and run accident.

South African Mixed Team Garmin, Yolandi du Toit & Ben-Melt Swanepoel showed serious strength throughout the race, claiming all three Stage wins in the Full Mixed category with a total time of 11.35.56.

The first ladies team across the line were Theresa Ralph & Samantha Saunders (Team Galileo Risk Valencia) coming in at 02:56:51. They dominated their category over all three days, winning the Full Ladies Team category.

The local riders demonstrated their bushveld prowess in the Lite competition. Arona Modisi & Dimpho Mas, crossed the line in 03:20:30 cementing their Lite Men’s Team win. Battling it out for the Lite Solo were Arnold Kokwane and Shadrack Motswiri. After Stage Two, Kokwane was ahead by 22 min until an unfortunate mechanical on Stage Three where he dropped back by 41 minutes. The final results saw Shadrack in the top spot in Solo Men Lite in a time of 09:22:33, followed by Arnold Kokwane 09:36:15 and Mmoloki Matilamba in 09:46:06.

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Overall Gem Diamonds Kalahari challenge

Men’s Teams

1st.     Timothy Hammond & Derrin Smith (Spot Africa) 10.18.13

2nd.   Sean Mccormick & Kyle Poppleton (Botswana Duo) 10.47.56

3rd.    Shawn Bruwer & Ian Grassow (Hoisting Solutions) 11.13.01

Men Team Full

  1. Timothy Hammond & Derrin Smith (Spot Africa) 10.18.13
  2. BK Bokamoso & Pontsho Makana (Lefty Boys) 12.06.14
  3. Richard Hawkins & Jonathan Hawkins (Old Dog And Young Buck) 13.45.07

Women Team Full

  1. Samantha Sanders & Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk Valencia) 10.58.14
  2. Ashlee Van Tonder & Comine Bruwer (Scania Ladies Botswana) 13.41.09

Mixed Team Full

  1. Ben-Melt Swanepoel & Yolandi Du Toit (Garmin) 11.35.56
  2. Nadine Visagie & Ulrich Roux (Cyclezone) 13.04.32
  3. Jaco Du Plessis & Lelani Swart ( Sugar & Spice) 13.31.24

Sub Vet Team Full

  1. Sean Mccormick & Kyle Poppleton (Botswana Duo) 10.47.56
  2. Tswelelo Mere & Victor Makgwelo (Mere Attorneys) 12.59.02
  3. Larry Mallach & Wayne Dannheisser (Var Racers) 13.34.03

Veteran Team Full

  1. Shawn Bruwer & Ian Grassow (Hoisting Solutions) 11.13.01
  2. William Wertheim-Aymes & Bevan Oates (Nuk Orthodontic) 11.27.41
  3. Peter Vieira & Paul Baker (Nashua Document Solutions) 13.14.03


Master Team Full

  1. Scip Vernede & Andy Wright (SA Power) 13.05.02
  2. Sean Taylor & Michael Brennan (Faltree) 13.10.41
  3. Tom Klopper & Koenraad De Ruyck (Scania Masters Botswana) 13.30.18

Solo Men Full

  1. Craig Denbury 10.49.34
  2. Greg Anderson 02.56.47
  3. Thato Madimabe 11.08.31

Solo Women Full

  1. Chiara De Siena 13.50.26

Single Speed Full

  1. Garth Armstrong 12.07.39
  2. Steve Moss 14.37.20

Men Team Lite

  1. Arona Modisi & Dimpho Masi (M&M) 09.28.04
  2. Timothy Roddy & Steve Chapman (London Irish) 10.43.57
  3. Thabo Masupe & Mogogi Mogomela (Vivo Energy 1) 10.48.19

Mixed Team Lite

  1. Owen Sivertsen & Sheenagh Brinkman (Sivo) 10.48.16
  2. Yolande Holzapfel & Ralf Holzapfel (Beauty & the Beast) 12.20.52

Solo Men Lite

  1. Shadrack Motswiri 09.22.33
  2. Arnold Kokwane 09.36.15
  3. Mmoloki Matilamba 09.46.06

Solo Women Lite

  1. Janette Wright 12.22.06

images: Jacques Marais

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