National Cross Country Championship – Dalton

A wet and slippery Dalton welcomed the second round of the National Cross Country Championship to KwaZulu-Natal. The unrelenting rain had battered what was touted to be a fast, flowing route and turned it into a technical challenge.

After navigating his way through a tricky time trial, Scott Heygate lined up for the race second in the OR2 Class and seventh overall. Heygate displayed exemplary race management by shrugging off some errors and steadily made his way through the pack, picking off his opponents one by one. In an impressive performance, he finished second both overall and in class. This is Heygate’s best finish to date as he looks to be entering a rich vein of form.

Kerim Fitzgerald had a difficult start to the day after damaging his bike early in the time trial. Having lost the function of his rear brakes, he qualified in 18th. The main race had similar challenges after he buried himself in a deep mud hole and had to claw his way back. He started to relish the challenge of the unforgiving conditions after the DSP, however, and fought his way up to finish in third position in the OR2 Class, honing his rapidly improving cross-country skills along the way.

OR1 Championship leader Brad Cox entered the weekend with a knee that was giving him issues after crashing at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. He attempted to soldier on despite the gnarly conditions and gritted his teeth to try push through the pain. Ultimately, he made the decision to pull out after lap one and not cause further damage to his body or his season.

Matthew Wilson had a strong start to the day after clinching an impressive second place in the OR3 Class in the time trial and would start third overall. The race got off to a rollicking start as he and Davin Cocker went head to head in the first lap, dicing between the trees and going bar to bar round the bends.

Wilson then fell victim to a few small but ultimately costly errors that saw him lose contact with Cocker and rounded out the day in an impressive second place in the OR3 Class.

Published by: Louwrens Mahoney

Photography by: ZCMC Media

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