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Crash can’t stop Bellingan

Some of South Africa’s top mountain bike racers lined up at the start of the 2010 Audi Lost City Mountain Bike Challenge on Sunday, but it was rising star, Renier Bellingan (USN), who grabbed the limelight when he won the popular event.

At 50km, it’s one of the shorter events on the national calendar, but its close proximity Johannesburg and Pretoria and glamorous location at the Lost City leisure resort, make it one of the more prestigious races, attracting over 1100 entrants this year.

The short distance, combined with the relatively flat nature of the terrain, made for tight racing and a fast pace from the start. Team DCM, which included Max Knox, Brandon Stewart and Jacques Janse van Rensburg, set a rapid pace from the gun on the 2 x 25km lap race.

Also present at the front of the race were Philip Buys and Francois Theron (both Garmin adidas), Nico Bell, Jock Green and Tiaan Swart (both Ghost Bikes), Andrew McLean (Cyclelab Toyota), Neil Macdonald (Team Medscheme) and Shaun Leach.

ÔÇ£It was a very fast pace. The DCM riders were on a mission and I was worried when I crashed at the start of the second lap,ÔÇØ explained Bellingan afterwards. ÔÇ£I lost about 30 seconds in the crash and had to dig really deep to catch the front group, which I did, but I was shattered and somehow managed to recover!ÔÇØ

As Bellinghan rejoined the lead pack, Knox attacked and rode clear alone for the next 13km before being reeled in. During the final kilometres the lead group was narrowed down to six ÔÇô Stewart, Knox, Buys, Bellingan, Macdonald and Bell.

The route took the riders around the BMX track before they hit the final tarred car park stretch to the finish line.

ÔÇ£The BMX track split the front group up a bit and I hit the tarmac about 50 metres behind Philip (Buys). I began to wind up my sprint, but thought he might be too far ahead to catch. But I found I just kept going and he faded towards the end, which allowed me to just pip him at the line!ÔÇØ

Bellingan’s winning time of 1 hour 26 minutes 03 seconds, calculated to an average speed of 34.86 kph.

In the women’s race, a three-way battle developed between Sanet Smal (Ghost Bikes) and the Team Bizhub pair of Lise Olivier and Yolandi du Toit. Despite remounting as quickly as possible after a crash, Smal was unable to rejoin the battle for the top of the podium, which was eventually claimed by Olivier, with Du Toit securing second and Smal third.