By Bardy the Action Scribe

Melt Swanepoel captured the overall title at the Mazda MTN Big Induna Mountain Bike race in Hazyview at the weekend with a virtual start-to-finish display of domination – and a small favour from MTN Energade teammate, Kevin Evans.

In 2007, at the same event, Swanepoel rode the perfect teammate role for Evans, who won the event and the national marathon title. This year, Evans returned the favour and played the supporting role for Swanepoel, who claimed the victory for the prestigious 75km race in 02hr50min20sec. Evans rolled across the finish line one second later with another MTN Energade rider, David George, securing the final podium place in 2:51:11.

Swanepoel, who was squeezing in one final race before he set for the for cross-country world champs in Italy, set a fast pace from the start and only Evans and George were able to stay on his wheel for the rolling first few kilometres. They were joined at 8km by the hard-chasing trio of Johnny Kritzinger (Schwinn), John Paul Pearton (USN) and Francois Theron (USN).

Just before 15km, Pearton stopped to remove a stick from his wheel and was never able to rejoin the leaders and five kilometres later, Theron found the pace too quick and dropped out of the leading pack. This left only Kritzinger to try and challenge the MTN Energade team’s quest for podium domination.

But on the race’s big climb at 45km Evans, George and Swanepoel, all three accomplished climbers, kept the pace high, which proved too much for Kritzinger. Then on the final 10km descent, George dropped off the pace, leaving Evans and Swanepoel to contest the win.

“Melt was strong throughout. He never really faded and deserved to win,” explained Evans. “I have won the Mazda MTN Series three times so my role this year is to be a support rider for my teammates. That worked out really well today. I also owed Melt from last year when he helped me win here. I’m gradually paying back my debts.”

In the women’s race, Series leader, Yolande de Villiers  (Cycle Lab Toyota) was conspicuous by her absence, but the intensity of the battle for the victory wasn’t affected.

Carla Rowley (MTN Energade) took the early lead but lost it to Tania Raats (Maverick Fox) after a crash. Then Raats’s hopes of victory seemed dashed when a puncture at halfway saw her lose more than five minutes – and the lead – to Rowley.

But a spirited chase saw Raats reclaim the lead in the final kilometres and she went on to secure her first Mazda MTN Series win of the year, clocking a respectable 3:38:50. Less than half a minute later, Rowley crossed the line to secure second with Yolandi du Toit (Garmin DCM) rounding out the podium in 3:45:53.  

“It’s good to win a big race again,” said an elated, but weary Raats afterwards. “I had a cracked kneecap at the end of last year and am steadily getting back to good form again. I thought I’d lost any hope of winning today when a piece of glass cut my tyre, but I managed to make a plan by closing the hole with an energy gel wrapper. I really had to dig deep to catch Carla again. It was a very tough race, but most enjoyable too.”

In the Mazda MTN Half-marathon, presented by Ferdevco, Bryce Munro and Catherine Roberts were the men and women’s category winners respectively. More than 1800 riders entered the Big Induna event. Round 4 of the Mazda MTN National Series takes place in Stellenbosch on 2 August and doubles as the 2008 South African Marathon Championships.

Mazda MTN Big Induna 75km Marathon 2008
Hazyview, Mpumalanga
Leading results

1 Melt Swanepoel (MTN Energade) 02hr50min20sec
2 Kevin Evans (MTN Energade) 02:35:21
3 David George (MTN Energade) 02;51:11
4 Johnny Kritzinger (Schwinn) 02:58:27
5 Francois Theron (USN) 03:01:42
6 Matthys Beukes 03:03:17
7 John Paul Pearton (USN) 03:03:54
8 Oliver Munnik (Red Mongoose) 03:04:08
9 Dana Coetzee (Red Mongoose) 03:04:22
10 Hendrik Kruger 03:07:12

1 Brett Dickson 03:09:32
2 Renato Albrecht (Garmin DCM) 03:11:05
3 Anton Smal 03:21:42

1 Damian Booth (Mugg & Bean) 03:10:19
2 Charles Nienaber 03:28:10
3 Kobus Prius 03:34:42

1 Christopher Brand 03:20:20
2 Cobus Slabbert 03:41:14
3 Sieg Hamman 03:46:52

Grand Master
1 Art Stokoe 04:27:08
2 Johan Botes 04:39:03
2 Gerrit van Niekerk 04:47:55

1 Tania Raats (Maverick Fox) 03:38:50
2 Carla Rowley (MTN Energade) 03:39:18
3 Yolandi du Toit (Garmin DCM) 03:45:53
4 Amoryn Saayman 03:50:02
5 Laetitia Botha 03:52:04

1 Tania Raats (Maverick Fox) 03:38:50
2 Kirsten Tasker 04:07:31
3 Sandra Colby 04:36:26

1 Elsabe Jacobs 04:33:08
2 Cindy Lyn Rebello 04:45:44
3 Elsie Bezuidenhout 04:55:43

Mazda MTN Forest to Falls Half-marathon 35km, presented by Ferdevco 2008
1 Bryce Munro (Cycle Lab Toyota) 01hr40min27sec
2 James Gerber (FNB FPC Gemini) 01:44:27
3 Krisjan Slabbert 01:44:33


1 Catherine Roberts 02:07:11
2 Beatrice Hogan 02:12:08
3 Genee Steyn 02:14:05