Mar­itzburg boykie Teas­dale shows the real spirit of the Roof of Africa

The Witness - Wheels - - BIKING -

BRI­TISH en­duro rider Graham Jarvis suc­cess­fully de­fended his Roof of Africa ti­tle at the fi­nal Hard En­duro of the year.

The 41-year-old out-gunned a charg­ing Al­fredo Gómez, with South African Scott Bou­verie round­ing out the podium af­ter three days of bru­tal rac­ing in Le­sotho last week­end.

Af­ter three days and nearly 400 km of rac­ing, a mere nine sec­onds sep­a­rated the top two rid­ers.

The fi­nal stage was a clas­sic race of at­tri­tion, with the elder states­man’s ex­pe­ri­ence of the epic race in the high­lands of the moun­tain king­dom grad­u­ally wear­ing down the Spa­niard on his first visit to Africa.

From flat to … roofy

Born in 1967, the Roof of Africa event used to in­clude cars, quads and mo­tor­cy­cles, but has pro­gressed from a fast and flow­ing race in the low­lands of Le­sotho to one of the world’s tough­est Ex­treme En­duro events, known as the “Mother of Hard En­duro” to be pre­cise. The 49th edi­tion of this pres­ti­gious event lived up to its name and the Mo­tul Roof of Africa 2016 be­gan in the streets of Maseru on Thurs­day, De­cem­ber 1, for the tra­di­tional “Round the Houses” race where com­peti­tors race through the cap­i­tal city of Le­sotho, com­plet­ing a 3,6 km loop three times.

Ar­riv­ing at an alti­tude of 2 263 m at Bush­men’s Pass, Gold rid­ers had to get ready to tackle the 51,8 km long Time Trial that would give them a lit­tle taste of what the next two days held in store for them. Jarvis (Husq­varna) posted the fastest time ahead of Brett Swanepoel (Yamaha) and Travis Teas­dale (Brother Leader Tread KTM, KTM 250 XC-W).

On the first race day, rid­ers took on a 157 km-long loop with the tem­per­a­ture go­ing over 30 de­grees Cel­sius. Sec­tions like “Mau­rice Pass” and “Snake Bike” soon sep­a­rated the men from the boys when even the top Gold rid­ers bat­tled on this ex­treme sec­tion of the race.

Spirit of the Roof award

Mar­itzburg’s Teas­dale got as­sis­tance from a fel­low com­peti­tor and in­stead of con­tin­u­ing to race and chase the top guys, he de­cided to re­turn the favour, walk down the moun­tain and help the other rider be­fore con­tin­u­ing his race. True sports­man­ship like this saw Teas­dale awarded the “Spirit of the Roof” award.

KTM Fac­tory racer Al­fredo Gomez from Spain worked his way through the field on his KTM 300 XC-W to win the first day. He was only 27 sec­onds be­hind Jarvis on the over­all leader board.

The sec­ond race day and fi­nal day of the 2016 Roof of Africa held 119 km of tech­ni­cal ter­rain in store — long and ex­treme, but not as tir­ing as Fri­day and rid­ers kept on push­ing all day. At the end of the 119 km, vic­tory went to Husq­varna’s Jarvis, who claimed his fourth vic­tory at the Roof of Africa, fol­lowed by Gomez only nine sec­onds be­hind Jarvis. Brother Leader Tread KTM’s Scott Bou­verie rounded off the podium as the first South African com­peti­tor home ahead of team-mate Teas­dale.

Kirsten Land­man at­tempted her first ever Roof of Africa Gold race this year af­ter hav­ing fin­ished Sil­ver and Bronze the pre­vi­ous years. She made his­tory on her trusty KTM Freeride 250 R by be­com­ing the first fe­male com­peti­tor to fin­ish the gru­elling Gold class at “The Mother of Hard En­duro”.

“I feel like I’m on top of the world! I’m so happy, but I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet. I put the ef­fort in and worked hard for this the whole year and I am so happy it has all paid off,” Land­man said.

The Sil­ver Class was won by KTM Dur­ban’s Calvin Hume on­board the re­cently launched KTM 150 XC-W, while the Bronze Class was won by Hein­rich Zell­hu­ber on another KTM 150 XC-W.

PHOTOS: RED BULL

Husq­varna’s Graham Jarvis (left) won his fourth Roof of Africa last week­end af­ter a two-day tus­sle with KTM’s Aflredo Gomez (cen­tre) while Pi­eter­mar­itzburg’s en­duro rider Travis Teas­dale brought home the Spirit of the Roof award.

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