SA XCO Cup #2, Helderberg

SA Cup Series XCO #2, 27 February
Helderberg Farm, Stellenbosch

James: 5th place

All the South African XCO specialists were in town for a key Olympic qualifying event at Helderberg Farm, outside Stellenbosch. The technical but fast and flowing course had also caught the attention of a number of international big guns.

The powerful Kiwi Sam Gaze and Danish Junior XCO and Cyclo-cross World Champion Simon Andreassen were on the start line. Their Specialized Factory Team was holding a training camp in Stellenbosch and the team manager, former World Champion and multiple Cape Epic-winner, Christoph Sauser keen to test the team’s form. Dutch former U23 Mountain Bike World Champion, Michiel Van Der Heijden (Scott-ODLO) was also in town and excited to mix it up in the sweltering heat.

Unfortunately, our Cape Epic plans were dealt a severe blow when James’s Epic partner Howard Grotts fell and cracked a few ribs in Friday’s practice… We will keep you posted on developments here.

The racing was intense and hot! Gaze blew the field to pieces from the start gun, and his confidence grew with each lap as he consistently lapped faster than anyone else and built a two-minute buffer that no-one could answer. South Africans Allan Hatherly (Kargo) and Phil Buys (Scott-LCB) fought back bravely towards the end to finish in second and third, respectively.

James had high hopes for Helderberg and expected to make much of the racing at the front of the field as he had won the first round of the Cup Series in Mankele in January. Unfortunately, after a good start he was unable to engage top gear and lapped consistently in fifth, where he finished just behind Andreassen in fourth. It was a frustrating day for our young ambassador, but it provided valuable feedback in his quest for Olympic qualification.

Get Ready for the Spur Schools League!

Spur Schools Mountain Bike League ambassadors, Ariane and James have been hard at work sharing their racing insights with the next generation of mountain bike superstars around the country.
James held an informal chat and race course recce at both rounds of the SA XCO Cup at Mankele in Mpumalanga and Helderberg Farm (pictured), outside Stellenbosch.
Ariane held a Q&A session in Sabie for Spur Schools League riders of all ages and also coached some of the younger kids through the course at Helderberg Farm.

If you’re a part of the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League and you’d like to arrange a ride with Ariane or James at your school, contact us.

R10,000 Boost to Spur Schools League Announced!

Through Spur Steak Ranches Ariane Kleinhans and James Reid have become ambassadors to the successful Spur Schools Mountain Bike League – the largest schools mountain bike program in the world. CEO of Spur Corporation, Pierre van Tonder and Market Development Manager Andrew Cronje, used Team Spur’s launch last week to announce a powerful new incentive program to benefit the Schools League.

How it works: school teams that win their age category at the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League Final, held in October each year, will receive a R10,000 contribution from Spur to spend at their discretion. The prize is open to both the boys’ and girls’ races across all age categories. The generous bonus is designed to foster healthy competition and promote teamwork between riders and within schools as well as increase participation in the League across all skill levels and abilities. It is Spur’s wish that the bonus be spent on the educational needs of the school and its pupils, and not necessarily its cycling programs, but Spur will not be prescriptive with where a school chooses to use the cash.

For more on the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League, and the full 2016 calendar, click here.

Dutoit Tankwa Trek

Dutoit Tankwa Trek, 12-14 February
Koue Bokkeveld, Western Cape

James & Howard Grotts: 5th place

The Koue Bokkeveld outside Ceres is usually a sleepy valley of apple orchards, red rock and extreme temperatures. Over Valentines weekend in February it was the scene of some brutal mountain bike racing. Team Spur pitched its gazebo in support of James Reid and his American counterpart, Howard Grotts as they were pitted against some of the fastest endurance stage racers on the planet.

There was no love lost between the top teams and Howard found the frenetic pace a tough introduction to Africa. After making the early racing on Stage 1, Howard’s long commute from Durango, Colorado just two days prior, took its toll and James was forced to nurse his partner home in a disappointing sixth position, 18 minutes behind the experienced Team Bulls pairing of Karl Platt (GER) and Urs Huber (SUI).

Stage 2 saw our young XCO racers again put up a solid fight early on, but dropped off on the big Merino Monster climb to end the day in fifth, 6 minutes behind the winners, fellow Specialized riders, Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Sam Gaze (NZL).

The last stage was a technical affair with stunning rocky singletrack over punchy terrain, but Howard was still reeling from the intensity of the first two stages. The pair decided to use the day to consolidate their fifth place and brought it home easy, finishing the event in a disappointing fifth, but aware of the work to do for the Cape Epic a month away.

A Sizzling Start to 2016 for Team Spur

Team Spur hosted a picturesque sunset launch event on Thursday, 4 February in Sea Point, Cape Town. It was an opportunity to celebrate the team and reflect on a fine first month representing headline sponsors Spur Steak Ranches and equipment sponsors Specialized Bicycles.
The event was about as far removed from the dust, mud and tears of high-performance mountain bike racing as one could get. Team Spur riders Ariane Kleinhans and James Reid cut impressive silhouettes in fitted shirts as seagulls wheeled against a blood red sun. Our pro riders were joined by support staff, sponsors, media, family and friends, as well as local and international cycling stars Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Jaco Venter, Christoph Sauser and Sam Gaze.
CEO of Spur Corporation, Pierre van Tonder welcomed Team Spur to its sponsorship portfolio while Spur’s Market Development Manager, Andrew Cronje revealed the proud history and impressive growth of the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League under the. In 2016 Team Spur will act as ambassadors for the Schools League and support its events. The League now boasts 10,500 entrants from over 400 schools across South Africa and neighbouring countries. In 2015 scholars competed in 48 events around the country – a huge achievement in just six years of the League’s existence.
Specialized Bicycles Africa Market Leader, Bobby Behan heaped praise on the pioneering Schools League, outlining the impact this grassroots cycling development program will have on future generations, as well as its position as a globally revered model for youth participation in cycling.
Team Spur Manager, Nic Lamond explained the team’s top racing priorities for the year: Ariane wants to add a third Cape Epic women’s title to her palmares and James is gunning for Olympic selection.
The stars of the show, Ariane and James wrapped up proceedings with an entertaining panel interview, hosted by RSAWEB Director, Rob Gilmour. It was immediately clear that while their priorities for the year differ they share a strong bond, an analytical approach to training and racing and a genuine enthusiasm for having an impact on the lives of budding young mountain bikers through the Schools League.

 

SA XCO Cup #1, Mankele

SA XCO Cup #1 Mankele, 30 January
Mankele, Mpumalanga

James: 1st place

On Saturday, 30 January James Reid made his bid for Olympic selection known up north. James had the measure of a strong Elite Men’s field, winning the first round of the South African XCO Cup Series in Mankele, Mpumalanga and earning Team Spur its first victory of 2016.