Croeser claims maiden Karkloof crown as Neethling cruises to women’s title

Howick – Kargo Pro MTB Team star Rourke Croeser produced the strongest display at the 2014 Sappi Karkloof Classic as he held off the rest of the field to claim his maiden victory in the 60km marathon event with Time Freight VELOLife’s Candice Neethling cruising to a comfortable win in the ladies race at the Karkloof Country Club on Sunday.

The riders were greeted to some gloomy weather at the start but as soon as they left the valley they were bathed in sunshine as Croeser and Trek SA’s Brendon Davids made an early break but following a technical glitch to Davids’ bike Croeser took the outright lead and never looked back despite not feeling on top of his game.

The conditions were in between for the riders with track conditions shifting between dry and wet but Croeser managed to negotiate the changing conditions well and was happy with the way he could produce a favourable result for himself and his team with a trip overseas on the horizon.

“Our team needed a big result, I needed a big result and I was just happy to get the win. It gives me great confidence as I leave on the European leg of our World Cup tour and I am looking forward to the rest of the season,” Croeser mentioned confidently.

It was Cannondale Blend’s Darren Lill who claimed the second place on the podium in his first outing to the Sappi Karkloof Classic and after battling through some sections he managed to hold off the chasing bunch to claim the silver medal for the men’s event.

It was a ruthless sprint down the long finish straight for the third position and ultimately it was Team Jeep’s Julian Jessop who outsprinted TIB Insurance’s Andrew Hill and Kargo Pro Team rider Travis Walker to take the final place on the podium before collapsing after the line with cramp.

It was a race to forget for the defending champion Brendon Davids as the Trek SA rider suffered multiple punctures throughout the race that left him playing catch-up for a lot of the race but he fought back gallantly to end in eighth place overall.

The women’s race was also fairly one-sided with Time Freight VELOlife rider Candice Neethling’s single track skills proving to be the difference as she opened up a fairly substantial gap over defending champion USN/Hi-TEC’s Jeannie Dreyer.

Having won this race in 2013 Dreyer knew that the competition was going to be tough and singled out Neethling as her main opposition and knew that it was going to be a tough ask beating the youngster.

“It was challenging, I came into the race knowing that I would have stiff competition,” she said. “Candice Neethling is a phenomenal rider and I went out hard from the start because I knew that my technical is not nearly as good as anybody’s and not nearly as good as Candice.”

The aQuellé 40km Half Marathon was dominated by Reinhard Zellhuber who won the half marathon race by 11 minutes over Nicolas Westman with Time Freight VELOlife’s Kim Westbrook taking the ladies title in the same event.

The aQuellé 20km family race was, again, popular amongst the youth and with the rain subsiding and the sun shining it looked like a great day out for everyone as another successful Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival came to an end.


1. Rourke Croeser 02:37:29
2. Darren Lill 02:40:42
3. Julian Jessop 02:41:53
4. Andrew Hill 02:42:04
5. Travis Walker 02:42:14
6. Stuart Marais 02:43:47
7. Waylon Woolcock 02:47:19
8. Brendon Davids 02:52:10
9. Bradley Stroberg 02:52:40
10. Brand du Plessis 02:53:18

1. Candice Neethling 03:04.12
2. Jeannie Dreyer 03:10:09
3. Ashleigh Moffatt 03:18:00
4. Natalie Bergstrom 03:21:57
5. Frankie du Toit 03:24:42
aQuellé 40km Half Marathon

1. Reinhard Zellhuber 01:44:22
2. Nicolas Westman 01:55:26
3. Sharjah Jonsson 01:57:43
4. Cameron Doyle 01:59:25
5. Rob Nutt 01:59:27

1. Kim Westbrook 02:04:40
2. Tracey Wood 02:17:36
3. Julieann Hampson 02:27:23
aQuellé 20km Fun Ride

1. Aaron Mitchell 1:01:27
2. Cian Leveridge 01:02:05
3. Robyn Rowe (F) 01:02:11


Kargo Pro MTB Team star Rourke Croeser shook off the bridesmaid tag at the 2014 Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival as he powered his way to his first victory at the event at the Karkloof Country Club on Sunday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media



Time Freight VELOlife’s Candice Neethling showed superior single track skills as she cruised her way through to a resounding victory in the women’s 60km race at the 2014 Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival that concluded at the Karkloof Country Club on Sunday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media