Bull claims title to wrap up Pmb MTB Festival

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Pietermaritzburg – Sam Bull rocketed to his first ever Nationals downhill MTB title and Danish stars Sebastian Fini and Simon Andreassen captured the 20km and 50km marathon titles respectively as the successful inaugural Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival at the Cascades MTB Park drew to an end today, Sunday 5 April.

Sam Bull blitzes his final run to claim the national downhill title at the Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival at the Cascades MTB Park today, Sunday 5 April.

Sam Bull blitzes his final run to claim the national downhill title at the Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival at the Cascades MTB Park today, Sunday 5 April.

For Fini, who finished fourth in a superb field that contested the men’s elite cross country race on Saturday, Sunday’s 20km marathon was a fun ride to bring down the curtain on the Danish national team’s visit to South Africa.

The super-talented Simon Andreassen, a junior world champion in both cyclocross and mountain biking, claimed victory in the 50km Classic after fighting off the challenge of South African star James Reid on a route that had been soaked by rain the previous evening.

“To have a world champion standing on the podium today was great, and it just shows that people still think of Pietermaritzburg as a very viable, international venue, which I think is fantastic,” event organiser Alec Lenferna weighed in.

Multisport star Carla van Huysteen was a runaway winner of the women’s title. It was her first time back on a mountain bike since she broke her left wrist nine weeks ago, which caused her some pain on the climbs, but it was something that was not going to stop her.

“I’m in Seventh Heaven,” she grinned. “It was really messy and muddy. There were some descents where I can’t believe I stayed on my bike. It was a really good course, though, very pumpy, hard climbing, lots of it. I don’t know what the elevation was, but we ascended a lot. It’s just an amazing track.”

The downhill wrapped up the Festival, just in time to avoid afternoon rain, and it came down to the three final riders racing down the hill. Tim Bentley clocked a 4:39.8 to better Sam Bull’s fastest qualifying run of 4:40, but it looked as if reigning national champion Tiaan Odendaal might have wrapped up victory when he slashed a massive eight seconds off of Bentley’s time. Bull, however, then ran an astonishing 4:28.7 to steal the win. There were plenty of congratulations offered to the man from Howick after a fine effort.

The elite men's podium after the downhill nationals at the Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival at the Cascades MTB Park on Sunday 5 April, (from left) Tiaan Odendaal, (2nd), Sam Bull (1st) and Tim Bentley (3rd).

The elite men’s podium after the downhill nationals at the Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival at the Cascades MTB Park on Sunday 5 April, (from left) Tiaan Odendaal, (2nd), Sam Bull (1st) and Tim Bentley (3rd).

Lenferna, the man behind numerous top UCI events in Pietermaritzburg, including MTB, BMX, track and road, said he was satisfied with how the Festival had played out.

A huge field of MTB enthusiasts turned out for thr 50km and 20km marathon races at the Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival at the Cascades MTB Park, today, Sunday 5 April.

A huge field of MTB enthusiasts turned out for thr 50km and 20km marathon races at the Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival at the Cascades MTB Park, today, Sunday 5 April.

More information on the Pietermaritzburg Mountain Bike Festival and the event’s full programme can be found at http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-pmb-mtb-festival

Supplies by Gameplan Media.  Pics by Craig Dutton