Hill claims his 3rd Marriott Freedom Race Title
This past weekend 500 mountain bikers took part in the annual Marriott Freedom Race, an exciting mountain bike event that celebrates the 27th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
Top KZN Mountain biker, Andrew Hill teamed up with local young talent Julian Jessop in Team TIB. Andrew is the defending champion, having won the event in 2015 and 2016 with different riding partners. This weekend saw Team TIB pushing hard from the start on day 1, with strong competition from Andrew Johnson and Reinhard Zellhuber in Team Ballito Bicycle Co. Team TIB managed to surge ahead over the 52.5km Day 1 route and finish just 3min ahead of the chasing Team, Ballito Bicycle Co.
Day 2 dawned with perfect riding conditions for the stage race and the individual rider. Team TIB lead the stage race onto the Shembe Plateau, which took riders up a 200m climb above Inanda Dam, providing amazing views of the 1000 hills valley. The riders descended the plateau back past the start and then onto some exciting single track cut by the Durban Green Corridor to the finish at Suncoast.
Hill and Jessop emerged at blue lagoon only 1min ahead of Johnson and Zellhuber. From there to the finish the riders stayed on the beachfront promenade, giving then a fast flat finish. It was Team TIB which managed to hold onto the 1min lead and cross the finish line ahead of Ballito Bicycle Co. Team TIB took the overall win with a 5min lead over 2nd Place Ballito Bicycle co and third place went to Team PM Power Training, coming in 8min behind.
The ladies race was hotly contested, with strong riders making up the top 3 teams. Team Valley Mutts proved to be too strong on Day 1 and Day 2 and took the overall winnings. A strong chase was given by Team Saddle Tramps and Team Cadence Girls, which took 2nd and 3rd places respectively. All 3 of these Teams managed to finish both stages within 5min of each other.
The mixed team section was won by the youngsters from team Concept Cyclery / Bell. A hard chase was given by last year's winners, Team Jowetts Racing. , but they could only manage 2nd place, finishing under 90 seconds back. Team Love to Ride, claimed 3rd place over all.
In the individual 40km race, over 450 competitors took to the exciting route which follows the Umngeni river down to Blue Lagoon and Suncoast. In the men's race, Bradley Rowlett, Mboneni Nqcobo and Jason Davies formed a tight group, chasing each other along the bridges and trails to Blue Lagoon. However it came down to the final turn in the finish tunnel, where Jason Davies took the inside line and just managed to surge ahead of Mboneni Nqcobo, winning by 5 seconds. Bradley Rowlett held on until the last 100m and claimed a well deserved 3rd place.
In the ladies 40km race, Natasja Foster lead the ladies pack from start to finish. 2nd place went to Marion Sykes and 3rd place to Yoland Smith.
Shirley Williams Communications
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