Ariane and James Conquer Attakwas

Fairview Attakwas Extreme Mountain Bike Challenge, 16 January
Oudtshoorn, Western Cape

Ariane: 3rd place
James: 3rd place

It was a successful first outing for Team Spur’s Ariane Kleinhans and James Reid at the 2016 Fairview Attakwas Extreme Mountain Bike Challenge last weekend. Both athletes persevered against the challenging 122km course and world-class competition to finish on the podium. As the pervasive dust settles on another exciting Attakwas event Team Spur has plenty of achievements on which to reflect.

James’s third was a solid result in his debut Attakwas. The 24-year-old Reid was the only South African who stood up to the German onslaught, as Team Bulls’ marathon specialists dominated the race. Four-time Absa Cape Epic winner Karl Platt was the first across the finish line, with teammate Tim Böhme a close second and Simon Stiebjahn fourth.

2016 Fairview Attakwas Extreme MTB Challenge-06655 sml

“It’s about what I expected,” James Reid said after the race. “I felt good going up to the King Of The Mountain (KOM) spot but it was rough; a long hard route and challenging rocky terrain. I lost touch with the leading trio midway through the race. From there it was a long slog by myself. I managed my energy levels and pictured it being a five-hour day [James finished in 5:17:12]. The gap to the leaders is a little bit of a concern but it’s early days and there’s time to improve.”

Ariane was understandably disappointed in her third place, which brought to an end her five-year winning streak at Attakwas. Yet her fight back from a near race-ending mechanical while leading the race, to claim the final podium position, bodes well for her season. Ariane was third behind Team Ascendis’ Robyn de Groot in first and Jennie Stenerhag second. Ariane fell victim to the rock-strewn descent shortly after claiming the Queen Of The Mountain spot prize at the 57km mark. She rejoined in a distant sixth place and charged home over the last half of the course, but couldn’t close the gap on De Groot and Stenerhag.

“I’m sad about not winning the Attakwas,” Ariane said. “It was the very first racing day that I spent in South Africa when I arrived here more than five years ago so it’s a special race for me. I’m especially sad for the new team – I would have liked to please Spur and Specialized with a great win because I’m really happy to be a part of this professional setup.”

Team Spur Manager, Nic Lamond was excited by the form and character both athletes displayed at Attakwas: “This was our first real chance to test the team and I am proud of the outcome. It is great to see the team working and problem-solving together. We have a fantastic energy and incredibly supportive sponsors and partners. There was never any doubt that Ariane and James would hold up their end of the deal and fight with everything they had out on the brutal course. That’s just who they are. I understand Ariane’s disappointment, she’s a world-class athlete who races to win, but mechanicals happen – we must learn and move on. The team is elated with this start to the season.”