Menlopark High School dominated the 2015 Spur Schools Mountain Bike League finals winning the boys, girls and mixed team trophies.
A field of 400 mountain bike riders representing 40 schools from across South Africa as well as a team from Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia competed for the coveted Spur Schools Mountain Bike League Championship trophy, but the stellar performances of the Menlonpark riders proved supreme.
Henry Liebenberg and Martien Venter finished second and third respectively in the junior men’s race, Chris du Plessis third in the youth men 15 years and with together with points scored by Gustav Rohdey (youth men 16) and Wessel Botha (junior men) logged 116 points to win. Paul Roos Gimnasium finished second with 101 points and Midstream College third with 76 points.
Strong races by sub-junior riders Monique du Toit and Antonique Grotsius who took first and third place and a close second by Safron Vosloo after a sprint finish won by by Nicoline Marais of Rustenburg High School, secured 75 points for a convincing win. Newcomers to the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League finals, Afrikaans Hoër Meisieskool and York High School from the Southern Cape delivered surprisingly good performances to finish second and third with 56 and 49 points.
The top five performances in the mixed team category saw Menlopark scoring an impressive 124 points for a comfortable win with Potchefstroom Gimnasium second with 100 points and Midstream College taking another podium position finishing third with 86 points.
The day was marked by top class riding in hot conditions on a technical 4.5km track with a 60 meter climb. The sub-junior boys set the tone for an action packed day with a start fast and a close 3-lap race amongst the top three. Jamie Penfold of Paul Roos nipped the first place from Adriaan Duminy of Wesvalia High School with a second after a strong sprint finish with Stehan Wolmerans of Hartebeespoort in a close third.
Ryan Conrade of Potchefstroom Gimnasium delivered the performance of the day leading comfortably from start to finish in the youth men 15 years and winning in a time of 00:41:10 with Charl du Plooy of Windhoek high second in a time of 00:42:11 and Chris du Plessis of Menlopark High third in 00:42:44.
Pieter du Toit of Hoër Volkskool Potchefstroom wrapped up a great season winning the youth men 16 years in 00:40:37, while a battle for second and third place had Johan Trotzky of Montana High School passing Henru du Toit of Waterkloof in the last lap with eight seconds in a time of 00:41:05.
The junior men’s race fielded an impressive line-up and had a fast and exciting start with Matthew Lombardi of Paul Roos Gimnasium taking the lead in the first round with Herbert Peters of St Georges on his wheel followed by a strong field of riders. A puncture in the second lap however forced Lombardi out of the race. The Namibian rider proved too strong winning comfortably in a 00:53:59. Menlopark team mates Henry Liebenberg and Martien Venter finished second and third in 00:54:14 and 00:54:37 respectively.
The women’s races provided great spectator value with sprint finishes in all categories. Danielle Strydom of Potchefstroom Gimnasium had to race hard from the get go in the youth women category with tough competition form Tiffany Keep of Thomas More College and Allison Morton of Westerford. Strong legs however saw Danielle snap up the win with a sprint finish in a time of 00:31:51 only two seconds ahead of Tiffany with Allison literary finishing seconds behind in 00:32:01.
Nicoline Marais of Rustenburg won the junior women in 00:42:30, followed by Saffron Vosloo of Menlopark in a time of 00:42:32 and Kirsten Louw of Hoër Volkskool Potchefstroom third in 00:43:45. Kelsey van Schoor of St Dominics Priory in Namibia was second in the sub-junior race.
The Spur Schools Mountain Bike league – a joint initiative between Spur Steak Ranches and trail advocacy group Amarider, recorded stratospheric growth during the 2015 season with more than 400 schools and 10 000 competing nationwide.
According to league organiser Meurant Botha stated that it was encouraging to see the increasing number of schools that have adopted mountain biking as an official school sport. “Schools are taking mountain bike riding to the next level through coaching clinics and high performance training camps, while constantly introducing new riders to the sport. On grass roots levels various rider development programmes have been implemented around the country,“ said Botha.
Two development teams partaking in the 2015 finals are Diepsloot Academy, who is already thoroughly entrenched in the series and newcomers Tswane Urban Riders that attended the Spur Schools National Finals for the first time.
South African Schools Cycling (SASC) headed up by Deon Steyn, as national governing body of the sport, the strong network of regional co-ordinators, as well as increased involvement from schools is playing a key role in getting mountain biking established as a main stream school sport.
“None of this would have been possible without the vision and commitment of the Spur Group who have invested over R7m into the league and the development of mountain biking as a school sport since 2009. The renewed 3-year sponsorship contract that will run until 2017 does not only bode well for the future of the league, but for mountain bike riding as a sporting discipline,” concludes Botha.