Mans, Heunis triumph at West Coast MTB Challenge 

Brandon Plaatjes (third), Gerhard Mans Junior (first) and Martin Freyer (second). Photo: Contributed

Gerhard Mans Junior and Jeanne Heunis won the elite men and women’s titles at the West Coast MTB Challenge powered by Hollard at the Swakopmund Clay Shooting Range on Saturday.

In an exhilarating twist that tested the mettle of the best, the West Coast MTB Challenge introduced an unexpected extra 6km challenge, transforming the race into the ultimate showdown of brilliance from the best cyclists in Namibia. The cool weather favoured our inland visitors, setting the stage for some nail-biting moments at the finish line.

The competition was fierce; the first four men raced over the line with mere seconds between them. Gerhard Mans Junior, representing Team Hollard, hammered the course in an astonishing 2:44:03. Mans was the overall winner of the 2023 Gravel & Dirt Series. 

Hot on his heels were Martin Freyer, also from Team Hollard, finishing at 2:44:06, and Brandon Plaatjes from Team Mannie’s Bike Mecca, at 2:44:09, showcasing the spirit of true competition. Danzel de Koe finished in fourth place with 2:44:20, 17 seconds behind Mans. The pros pushed the limits in every essence at the race. 

The first two Gravel & Dirt events were won by “foreign visitors.” Daniel Abraham from the Netherlands (Okajo MTB Challenge) and Konny Looser from Switzerland (Otjiwa Eagle Ride).

Jeanne Heunis of Team Pereira achieved a stunning victory, shattering expectations by crossing the finish line in 3:13:59, more than two minutes ahead of Anri Krugel Greeff of Team Hollard, who took second place at 3:16:19. Krugel was the first woman across the line at the Okajo MTB Challenge. 

She also secured a silver medal at the African Games earlier this month in Ghana. Candice Wiggill of Team Pereira rounded out the top three women at 3:25:15.

The event was hosted at the new venue, the Swakopmund Clay Shooting Range, which provided a spectacular backdrop to the thrilling competition. The nice weather contributed to the fantastic atmosphere, making the event enjoyable for athletes and spectators.

Anri Krugel Greeff, Candice Wiggill and Jeanne Heunis. Photo: Contributed

The 20km MTB categories saw Linn Lambert (1:10:07) and Bernhard van Zyl (1:09:09) emerge victorious in the women’s and men’s divisions, respectively. In the age-group categories, cyclists demonstrated that age is merely a number when it comes to competitive spirit. 

Wanda Tattersall (1:50:16) and Tiaan Nel (1:31:51) topped the charts in the 40km Women and Men 50+ categories, showcasing their fitness abilities and passion for the sport. The junior categories were a testament to the bright future of mountain biking, with Qara Volschenk (2:09:22) and Nathan Chase (1:30:38) leading the next generation of cyclists with their victories in the 40km Junior Women and Men categories. 

It is worth highlighting the outstanding achievements within the 75km Women’s category. Notably, Jaen-Marie Mostert and Monique du Plessis secured the fourth and fifth positions, respectively. Both athletes were part of the Namibian cycling team that competed at the African Games in Ghana earlier this month.

Additionally, the series also included 5km and 15km running events. This added to the day’s excitement, with participants taking on the challenge amidst the stunning scenery of Swakopmund.

The next race will be on Farm Friedenhau outside Windhoek on May 18, 2024.

For more details and to view all the top results from the event, please visit 

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