A late attack saw Nico Bell solo to a fine victory in the fourth leg of the Gauteng TrailSeeker series at Hazeldean in Pretoria today.
The NAD Pro rider from Nelspruit crossed the line in 2:23:11 to hold off Pyga-Eurosteel’s Philip Buys (2:23:38) and Wessel Botha (2:23:39) after a tough 70km of racing.
According to Bell, several early attacks led to him, teammate Gawie Combrinck, Arno du Toit, Botha and Buys going clear after 7km.
When the pace increased on the day’s major climb, about 20km into the race, Du Toit lost contact with the leading group.
“On the climb, Gawie, myself, Philip and Wessel rode away,” explained Bell.
“Philip attacked a few times up there, trying to get away, but Gawie just sat on his wheel.”
After the climb, the NAD Pro duo used their numerical advantage to outwit their two breakaway companions.
“We kept on attacking Philip to try and put him under pressure and to tire him out before the end so that one of us can ride away and win.”
With 20km remaining, disaster struck for Combrinck when he punctured and dropped out of contention.
At the same time, Buys increased the pace in an effort to get away, but the cross-country specialist started to fade about 10km out due to what Bell assumed were cramps.
“I saw he was struggling. I attacked, opened up a gap on him and Wessel and rode away to take the win,” said the 33-year-old, who has now won twice and finished second in three starts.
Valencia’s Samantha Sanders won the women’s race in 2:41:53 to finish ahead of series leader Theresa Ralph (2:44:34) and Vanessa Bell (2:46:00).
View more results and news here.