Dutch rider wins South Africa’s longest mountain bike race


Words: Linda Durand | Photo: www.oakpics.co.za

Dutch endurance mountain bike racing specialist, Jean Biermans (Sunweb Napoleon Games), has won the third annual 36ONE Mountain Bike Challenge in Oudtshoorn, South Africa, shattering the previous record in the process.

Biermans clocked a time of 14 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds for the gruelling 361km race to claim the title and the course record at the weekend. The 36ONE Challenge is South Africa’s longest full-support mountain bike race, taking the competitors over a distance of 361km with an accumulated elevation gain of 5200 metres.

Participants have a maximum of 36.1 hours to complete the course, the first 10 hours being completed through the night.

Biermans started the race conservatively, moving through the first checkpoint at 81km just over six minutes behind early leader, Dana Schutte. By Check point 2, at 183km, the Dutchman was in second place, literally on the wheel of then leader, Jacques van Zyl.
But by the third check point, at 280km, Biermans had worked up a 30-minute lead over Van Zyl, which he extended to 46 just over minutes by the finish, with Schutte a distant third to round out the podium. Biermans sliced a large chunk off the 2013 record of 17:07:23, set by Charles Nienaber.

“I’m very stoked I could win the 36ONE. It was a very hard race and I’m glad I made it,” said a weary, but happy Biermans.

Hannele Steyn claimed her third successive title in the women’s category, improving on her 2013 winning time and the course record by almost an hour with a time of 17:28:57. Kirsty Thompson and Thea-Mari van der Sandt were second and third respectively.

In addition to the Solo division, there are other racing categories at the 36ONE MTB Challenge. Pro racers for the Cannondale Blend Red-E team, Darren Lill and Charles Keey, claimed the highly competitive 2-Rider Relay title in a course record of 12:28:18, almost two hours faster than the 2013 mark of 14:20:58.

Two-rider relay team winners from 2013, Yolande de Villiers and Neill Ungerer (Karoo Mix), were second overall and first Mixed team in a time 13:38:51, also lopping a large chunk off their own course record from last year’s race. Third relay team home was Quinten Myburgh and Jacques van Staden (Changing Diabetes), just over 10 minutes back.

“The 36ONE MTB Challenge is building into one of the most prestigious mountain bike endurance tests, not only in South Africa, but also globally. Besides having an overall winner from Europe in Jean Biermans, we also had an increase in international entries,” said Henco Rademeyer of Dryland Event Management, co-founder of the event.

“The relay race winners, South Africans Darren Lill and Charles Keey, are among the top professional marathon mountain bike racers in the world, which shows that the appeal of the event is broadening too. With all the records being broken in most categories, we’re also seeing greater depth in terms of the level of competition,” added Rademeyer.

Other category winners were:

Full race:
Two-rider Men: Riccardo Stermin and Billy Stelling (36ONE Veteran Assets)
Two-rider Mixed: Johannes Olivier and Shirley Schmidt (Team Afrishore)

Relay race:
Four-rider Men: Pieter Burger, Jacques Terblanche, Louis de Wet and Erns Neethling (Klein Karoo Toyota)
Two-rider Women: Melissa van Rensburg and Marzanne Kriel (Klein Karoo Toyota Ladies)
A half-distance 180km event was added this year for solo men, solo women and tandems. Joanne McLeod won the event overall and the women’s category, while Anru de Wet secured the men’s category win, with Mike and Jeanine Clarke claiming the tandem title.

For full results, visit www.the36one.co.za and for a photo gallery, visit the Facebook page: The 36ONE MTB Challenge.