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11 Nov, 2015

Wheeling it to victory

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William Mokgopo and Anriette Schoeman gave the Momentum 947 Mountain Bike Challenge a taste of something old and something new when they won their categories at the Riversands Commercial Park on Sunday morning.


For Mokgopo it was a first-ever victory as a professional rider as the Team Kargo rider powered away from veteran Nico Pfitzenmaier (Team Dorma-Pyga) over the 55km distance in the elite field.

Schoeman (Team Africa Silks), a multiple champion of the Cycle Challenge on the road, was a clear winner of the women’s off-road race, beating Vanessa Bell (Team Bell Cycling) by over six minutes.


Mokgopo held nothing back in his celebrations as he crossed the line, punching the air and shouting for joy as he won in 2:02;12. A product of the Diepsloot Mountainbike Academy (DMA), Mokgopo, a Tuks student, has worked hard on his life and cycling career to become a professional cyclist and has represented South Africa at the UCI MTB World Championships.

 

It was poignant that part of the route he won on went through Northern Farms, where the DMA is based. The DMA combines cycling with lifestyle programmes, providing the youth of Diepsloot with education and bursaries.


“I went hard after the neutral zone,” said Mokgopo. “I knew Nico was a threat and decided to see what the other riders had. I pushed it hard a few times to see if I could break away. We got a gap and broke up the bunch. I think we had about seven guys left in the final break with one guy pacing.


“I put in a big effort as we went through Steyn City, but I didn’t want Nico too close to me because he is good on the descents. When I went hard again, I got the space and kept it going,” said Mokgopo, who had crashed hard on the race last year and had had to have stitches in his knee. He still has the scars.


“I’ve wanted to win this race for four years. Two years ago I got third. To win in what is my ‘hood’ makes it even more special.’

The 44-year old Pfitzenmaier, who has won the masters category at the Cape Epic, travelled up from Cape Town for the MTB Challenge. “I saw William putting in some hard efforts to break up the group and marked him,” said Pfitzenmaier. “I didn’t want to put in too many big efforts and burn too much energy, so I paced myself back on to his wheel. But near the end, he was too strong.”


Schoeman, who last rode the MTB challenge in 2013, said she had decided at the last minute to take part, and won in2:25;20. “I enjoyed it so much last time I decided to come back,” said Schoeman.

 

“It has been a hard season, but this is the perfect race for me. I knew I had to go as hard as I could from the gun, and that worked. The route is awesome. It has something for everyone, from the best to the beginner. I’m still a roadie at heart and there were bits that made the roadie and MTB rider in me happy.”


Amy-Beth McDougal (Team Valencia), who recently won the Single-Speed MTB World Championships in Japan recently, took 3rd place.


Jean-Pierre Lloyd and Danielle Strydom won the men’s and women’s categories of the 30km event.