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Yolande Speedy continued her impressive 2007 season on Sunday when she added he Mazda Series title to her list of achievements after claiming a dominant win in the Colorpress Crater Cruise in Parys just south of Joburg.

Yolande Speedy, wearing the pink Mazda Series leader’s jersey in the absence of Tania Raats, won the Colorpress Crater Cruise on Sunday and the Mazda Series overall women’s title.

The 56km women’s-only event doubled as the final leg of the 10-event Mazda Series, which saw Speedy enter the title chase late in the year as a result of her international racing commitments. But with five wins and a third place from the six events she raced, Speedy did enough to snatch the title away from Tania Raats (Maverick Momentum), who had led the Series since the first event in January.

“Winning the Crater Cruise was rather nice, but I have to say that the Mazda Series title is more important. It’s good for my sponsors and it’s a great way to end off the year,” said Speedy.

A muddy race-long battle at the Colorpress Crater Cruise ended in smiles for (from left) Amy Jane Mundy (third place), Carla Rowley (second place) and Jackie Nel (fourth place).

In the absence of Raats (knee injury) and defending Crater Cruise and Mazda Series champion, Yolande du Toit (Mazda Merida), who has a collar bone, Speedy started Sunday’s race as the clear favourite. And she didn’t disappoint, setting the pace from outset.

“I stayed around the front from the beginning and early on there were three or four of us working together to try and break the field up a bit. I didn’t want to get away too early because I thought they might work together to catch me later on, but at about 20km I attacked and got away.”

The IMC Mongoose rider held a two-minute lead over her rivals at halfway, but in the latter stages began to open up her advantage to eventually finish well clear in a quick time of two hours, four minutes and four seconds.

The battle for second place was intense with Carla Rowley (Raleigh MTN Energade) eventually securing the runner-up place in 02:12:31 ahead of South African cross-country champion Amy Jane Mundy (Jeep Specialized) who clocked 02:12:14. Jackie Nel (Jeep) and Chrissie Viljoen rounded out the top five.

Samantha Oosthuizen (Cbist) who was part of the fierce podium battle for most of the race suffered a mechanical problem 15km from the finish, which saw her slip down to 16th place.

The Mazda Series title gave Speedy’s successful year an appropriate bookend. Also this year she won the South African marathon title, the African cross-country title, five Mazda Series races and the Mixed category titles at the Subaru Sani2c and Absa Cape Epic. The 31-year-old sports coach also moved up to 39th on the UCI cross-country rankings and is the number-one candidate to represent South Africa at the Beijing Olympic Games.

The top three finishers in the overall Mazda Series rankings after the Crater Cruise were Speedy, Raats and Mundy respectively.

Leading results: Colorpress Crater Cruise 56km mountain bike race
Sunday 14 October 2007
1 Yolande Speedy (IMC Mongoose) 02:04:04
2 Carla Rowley (Raleigh MTN Energade) 02:12:31
3 Amy Jane Mundy (Jeep Specialized) 02:14:11
4 Jackie Nel (Jeep) 02:15:57
5 Chrissie Viljoen 02:18:03
6 Adele Drake 02:18:05
7 Christie Pienaar (Fritz Pienaar Cycles) 02:19:12
8 Beatrice Hogan (Club 100) 02:20:38
9 Susan Sloan 02:21:24
10 Petruschka Constancon (Bionic) 02:22:01

Youth (15-16 years)
1 Caitlin de Wet (Mongoose Red) 02:27:01
2 Monica Jooste 03:20:26

Junior (17-18 years)
1 Genee Steyn (Select) 02:36:09
2 Laura de Lange 04:17:01

Senior (19-29 years)
1 Amy Jane Mundy (Jeep Specialized) 02:14:11
2 Jackie Nel (Jeep) 02:15:57
3 Susan Sloan 02:21:24

Sub-Veteran (30-39 years)
1 Yolande Speedy (IMC Mongoose) 02:04:04
2 Carla Rowley (Raleigh MTN Energade) 02:12:31
3 Chrissie Viljoen 02:18:03

Veteran (40-49 years)
1 Petruschka Constancon (Bionic) 02:22:01
2 Carien Visser (Tuks) 02:29:42
3 Bridget O Meara (Rockhoppers) 02:31:23

Master (50-59 years)
1 Ann Pearton (Rockhoppers) 02:31:23
2 Ilna Lemmer (Cbist) 02:37:01
3 Marlene van Heerden (Rockhoppers) 02:39:42

Grandmaster (60-plus years)
1 Vivien Jeffries (Harmony) 04:26:15