Words by Tim Whitfeild
In the 60km opening stage for the Liberty 250 cycle challenge mountain bike event, Andrew Hill and Shaun-Nick Bester (Team TIB insurance ) were never challenged. The decision of Tyronne White not to compete meant Andrew Johnson had to change partners and although he claimed second with Andrew Cairns, the Ballito Bicycle Company pair was never able to put pressure on Bester and Hill.
“We decided to go out and push from the gun , it’s been a couple of weeks since Shaun-Nick has raced and he felt like a good hard paced was what he needed to get the body back into race mode” commented Hill. “Having some local knowledge did help a bit but with the trail direction being changed a lot we were constantly riding what felt new trails and impressive climbs”
The initial 60km route held a relatively high amount of climbing, in 1300m, which suited the pairing of Hill and Bester as they steadily gained control and the race lead.
A never challenged TIB team crossed the line a full 12 minutes ahead of the next team and cemented a great platform for the next two days of racing.
Andrew Hill and Shaun-Nick Bester have taken complete control of the Liberty 150 mountain bike race on the opening two stages, but the dice for victory in the corresponding 250km road race in Ballito is too tight to call with just two seconds separating the leading teams going into the Sunday’s final stage.
On Saturday’s 54km MTB stage, Hill and Bester recorded a second consecutive victory over Andrew Johnson and Andrew Cairns (Ballito Bicycle Company) at Holla Trails. Their two wins mean they start Sunday’s 40km final stage with a massive lead and the only way the TIB insurance can lose the off-road race is if they suffer a massive mechanical problem or some other horrendous bad luck.
“We have good lead going into the last day, so as long as nothing goes wrong we should be OK,” said Bester just after he crossed the line. “I can feel I have not raced for a few weeks and my back is a bit tight, but hopefully tomorrow we have an uneventful day with no problems.”
In the Liberty 150 mountain bike event Andrew Hill and his Gauteng partner Shaun-Nick Bester cruised to their third win in three stages to extend their lead and wrap up an easy overall title. The TIB insurance pair added another four minutes to their lead to beat Ballito Bicycle Company’s Andrew Johnson and Andrew Cairns by over 30 minutes overall in accumulative time.