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Gwin goes fastest in Downhill qualifying



Photos by: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media

Pietermaritzburg – Specialized Racing Downhill team star Aaron Gwin produced the quickest time in the men’s downhill qualifying at the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, as he finished two and a half seconds ahead of Santa Cruz Syndicate duo of Josh Bryceland and Pietermaritzburg’s own world champion Greg Minnaar after the final round of downhill qualifying at the Cascades MTB Park.

The American national champion has a successful history at this venue and is in the right space heading into the final with the two Santa Cruz riders breathing down his neck.

“It feels good to be top but that run didn’t feel good,” Gwin mentioned. “There is always a burn but it was a smooth run with a couple of bobbles that I know I can clean up so I’m just trying to keep the train rolling here.”

Having just come out of a long winter in the northern hemisphere Gwin is having to budget his time and energy in the opening event of the 2014 World Cup and giving himself a chance in the final on Saturday is the most important element on such a physically demanding course.

“I’m feeling good and the bike is awesome this week so I am very happy.

“I think that it’s all about trying to save your legs for this one and throw it down when it counts. We have been putting in the work and so if I can put in the run that I know I can I think I will be really happy,” the 26 year old explained.

Defending men’s downhill World Champion Greg Minnaar came through the timed runs on Thursday as the fastest but was outgunned by the American and his teammate Bryceland but the South African is feeling strong and is happy with how he went.

“My plan was to come here and be as competitive as possible and that’s the way I came into it and it’s been a good start to the season but Saturday is going to be a different race but so far I am pretty happy with how it has started.”

Minnaar, who is on the mend from a serious knee surgery, is still in the mix on his home track with the third fastest time and with the hometown support it is never a safe bet to write Minnaar off even without a full offseason.

“I’m just racing, I’m not really worrying about the injury. I have taken all the precautions that I can and now I’m just struggling with time on the bike, I haven’t had as much time on the bike as everyone else and up top I am a bit slow but I have got fitness and determination so that will get me down!

“You say you not going to put pressure on yourself coming into the event but you want to race and win so you have to forget about everything and just focus on that race,” a focused but tired Minnaar added after qualifying.
Hutchinson UR hero Mick Hannah ended well off the pace after he suffered a mechanical at the top of the course and had to settle for a more relaxed run down the course as he automatically qualifies for the final due to his UCI ranking.

“In the top section I must have clipped a rock or something and had no rear brake going into one of the scarier little turns so I just hung on to it and got myself to a stop and then just cruised down slow and tried to stay out of the way of people.”

“It’s just a mechanical so there weren’t any mind games or anything and I have been doing my own times so I know how quick I am so it’s a good thing that nobody knows the times we can do!” he mentioned light-heartedly.

Another Pietermaritzburg resident excelled in the men’s qualifying with Tiaan Odendaal of Green Team coming in as the second fastest South African and 34th overall ahead of the final on Saturday.

Women’s Downhill World Champion Rachel Atherton of the GT Factory Racing team was on a drip 24 hours prior to her getting onto the track for the women’s qualifying and still managed to come in second place behind fellow Brit and Madison Saracen Factory Racing rider Manon Carpenter with Emmeline Ragot claiming the third spot.

“We flew into South Africa a week today, giving ourselves enough time to recover, and I guess I just picked something up on the plane,” Atherton said. “I just got steadily sicker as the days went on and over the last couple of days I have been really feverish and pretty sick so the doctor put me on penicillin and antibiotics trying to get me right for tomorrow’s race.

Having missed the practice session yesterday the question of whether the World Champion was going to be able to compete in the first World Cup and now that she has been able to finish a run she is just trying to keep herself in the points and doesn’t expect too much from the event.

“I feel a lot better than I did but one days practicing isn’t great for the World Cup but as long as I can get out there and try and ride down it is going to be a saving points race for me because I’m not feeling good for a win.

“It’s the start of the season and to have this in the first race is pretty devastating but it is going to be a pretty good challenge!” she added determinedly.

The pace-setter, Carpenter, had to battle the heat and a tricky course in her run but managed to get down unscathed and claim the rite to the final rider out of the gate in the final on Saturday.

“I had a tough start at the top and worked hard across the middle even though I didn’t want to kill myself too much because of tomorrow but it was alright – pretty dusty though!

“It’s hard to know about your time until you look at the splits because you don’t know who has put the effort in in the middle but I’m very happy with my run and I can get it back tomorrow, hopefully,” a tired but satisfied Carpenter mentioned.

The junior men’s downhill qualifiers was marred by the withdrawal of the second ranked and MS Mondraker Team rider Innes Graham during the practice session on Thursday but otherwise the junior qualifying went according to the script with the top riders qualifying for Saturday’s final as Luca Shaw from SRAM/TLD Racing ended in the fastest time of 4:19.081 and was five seconds faster than Lapierre Gravity Republic team.

The South African contingent did not fare as well with hometown hopeful Gregg Brown crashing out in practice on Thursday and was unable to take part in the qualifying. Jonathan Philogene was the top South African heading into the event ranked at fourth but battled his way through the second half of the course to end in 13th place overall.


Elite Men
1.Aaron Gwin (Specialized Racing DH) 4:05.298
2.Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate) 4:07.836
3.Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) 4:07.919
4.Loic Bruni (Lapierre Gravity Republic) 4:08.967
5.Samuel Blenkinsop (Lapierre Gravity Republic) 4:09.132
6.Troy Brosnan (Specialized Racing DH) 4:09.402
7.Neko Mulally (Trek World Racing) 4:09.478
8.Nick Beer (Devinci Global Racing) 4:10.177
9.Sam Hill (Chain Reaction 4:12.025
10.Sam Dale (Madison Saracen Factory Team) 4:12.085

1.Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen Factory Team) 4:39.182
2.Rachel Atherton (GT Factory Racing) 4:48.325
3.Emmeline Ragot (Lapierre Gravity Republic) 4:48.670
4.Jill Kintner 4:50.405
5.Tracey Hannah (Hutchinson UR) 4:56.374

Junior Men
1.Luca Shaw (Sram/TLD Racing) 4:19.081
2.Loris Vergier (Lapierre Gravity Republic) 4:24.705
3.Taylor Vernon (GT Factory Racing) 4:33.318

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With nobody travelling internationally at the moment The Oyster Box’s Executive Chef, Kevin Joseph and his culinary Team, decided to take guests to exotic places through their food instead. So the Flavour-cation concept was born. Through a variety of food experiences ‘flavour vacations’ are put together to showcase exciting new tastes… literally on our doorstep.

With the Tapas menu (Spanish word for small savoury dishes), each item, has a main ingredient and everything else on the plate contributes to the overall taste sensation. “We looked at what is popular with diners,” says Chef Joseph, “such as oysters, prawns, sharing platters etc. and then added our own taste profile and flair to each dish, to give it an Oyster Box twist. The babotie spring rolls are an example; our steamed buns are baked in-house; the Oysters harvested from our own beds and the pear chutney and hummus cooked from scratch.” The menu also offers ample choice for Vegetarians.

Tapas will be on offer in The Lighthouse and Oyster Bars until the end of November, with new and exciting dishes being added to the menu on an ongoing basis, so that our guests always have something new to look forward to.

Alongside the menu, a wide selection of wine, beer, Champagne and sparkling wine is on offer. A special mention should be made of the House Wine Selection, from our internationally-acclaimed sister winery, Bouchard Finlayson in the Hemel en Aarde Valley in Hermanus. Known for producing exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and renowned Pinot Noirs.

The TAPAS Menu is served in The Lighthouse and Oyster Bars from 12:00-19:30 daily.

Booking is essential on 031 514 5000 or by e-mail

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Plan ahead for the winter holidays in South Africa’s warmest province and celebrate the festive season early at The Oyster Box.
There’s something for everyone this July.

July 2021

– There’s no doubt that Christmas 2020 was a fairly low-key event compared to the usual festivities The Oyster Box is known for. To make up for it, their food and beverage team is promising more fun and festivity during the month of July, than we’ve seen for a while…AND it includes a Christmas celebration…Yes, in July!
They are also going ‘glam’ in true Oyster Box style, for one of the country’s most prestigious horse-racing events, The Vodacom Durban July.
So, get your hat on and don’t miss the chance to join us in this ‘sport of kings’ event on Saturday 3 July.


Treat yourself to our legendary Crayfish and Prawn Cocktail and a complimentary glass of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel from Monday to Sunday, 12h00-19h00 in The Oyster Bar at R390.00 per person.

Celebrate the Vodacom Durban July at The Oyster Box – 3 July 2021

Let Executive Chef Kevin Joseph bring the Vodacom Durban July to you this year, with all the elegance and style you’d expect on the big day! Dress to the theme, get to know more about the jockeys and their mounts and stand a chance to win a variety of prizes during the course of the day. 

Pick the most Winners and stand a chance to win a night’s stay at The Oyster Box.  Drinks and luxury canapes on arrival in the Durban July Room from 11h00, followed by a traditional braai and accompaniments on the Lighthouse Bar Terrace from 13h00.  A bottomless gin bar will be available with a DJ keeping the punters’ spirit’s up. 

From Monday to Sunday 5-31 July, The Oyster Box Christmas in July Ski Lodge is back in the Lighthouse Bar, from 12h00-19h00 daily. With Live music on a Saturday and Sunday at lunchtime with Rob Warren performing Christmas and contemporary rock , the nostalgic atmosphere of a mountain ski-lodge is brought to you Durban-style. Choose between one of our three gourmet Christmas Subs (Gammon, Turkey or Roast Beef), served with a Ciroc Christmas cocktail at R250 per person. 

On Wednesday 7 July, the Rebels of Black Elephant Vintners & Co, pair 13 of their wines with a musical soundtrack of their lives. Strong supporting line-up provided by Executive Chef Kevin Joseph and his Kitchen Team, from 18h00-21h00 in the Oyster Bar.  Cost is R590.00 per person.

One of Durban’s most respected Cocktail Mixologists, Haroon Haffajee brings his innovative magic to the Wonderful World of Whisky at The Oyster Box on Wednesday 14 July 2021.  Drinks in the Oyster Bar on arrival at 18h00, with dinner in The Grill Room from 18h30.  The four-course sensory experience will feature whiskies from the Diageo World Class portfolio, paired with Haroon’s inimitable style, at R690.00 per person.

Finally…a chance to celebrate the Festive Season that wasn’t!! Join us for a traditional Christmas in July lunch on Sunday 25 July 2021 on the Ocean Terrace from 12h00-15h00.  With live music by Leon, a visit from Santa and entertainment for kiddies, you’re in for a fun time. Adults are R690.00 per person and R350.00 for Kids under 12 years.

The monthly Wine Wednesday food and wine evenings are back, with different South African wine estates hosting the monthly dinner, in conjunction with Executive Chef, Kevin Joseph and his Kitchen Brigade. The evening kicks-off at 18h00 in The Oyster Bar with canapes (first course) and a welcome drink at individual tables.  Guests move to The Grill Room at 18h30 for dinner, with an explanation from the Chef about the Menu and comments from the Farm representative on the various pairings, throughout the evening. Wines from the featured estate will be available to order on the evening.

July’s event on Wednesday 28 July features French-style wines from Morgenster Estate and a French-inspired menu courtesy of The Oyster Box. Family-owned and family-run, Morgenster has a long history dating back 300 years. Situated near the foothills of the Helderberg Mountain in Somerset West, the property produces award-winning Bordeaux-styled wines, Italian cultivars and extra virgin olive oil.



* High Tea in The Palm Court – Inspired by the hotel’s original architecture and with chandeliers purchased from the Savoy Hotel in London, High Tea at The Oyster Box is a lengthy, leisurely affair.  Live piano music provides the perfect backdrop to tea. High Tea is served daily at the following times: Mondays – Fridays from 14h30 – 17h00. Saturdays and Sundays, 12h00-14h00 & 15h00-17h00. Cost is R390.00 per person. 

* Legendary Breakfast in the Ocean Terrace – With al fresco tables offering panoramic Indian Ocean sea views and regular sightings of passing whales and dolphins, the generous breakfast buffet which includes fresh Oysters and Sparkling Wine, is the perfect way to start your day. Breakfast is served from 07h00-10h30 daily at R450.00 per person.

*The Curry Buffet in the Ocean Terrace – Continues to attract fans from far and wide.  Set in the Mediterranean-inspired Ocean Terrace, with gorgeous views across the Indian Ocean, the impressive curry selection, of at least 11 curries daily, includes meat, fish and vegetarian options. Using delicate blends of spices and fresh herbs…each curry is a masterpiece in itself.  The Curry Buffet is open for lunch and dinner from 12h00-20h30 at R390.00 per person.

Versatile muso Leon, provides Live Music from Thursday to Saturday evening and on a Sunday at lunchtime. 

Due to current covid protocols, reservations are essential.  Dinner bookings are available from 17h00-19h30 and Lunch bookings from 12h00-15h00.


For enquiries and to book for one of the events, contact Restaurants on (031) 514 5000 or by e-mail on


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Cake & Prosecco Class at Old Town Italy




Join Old Town Italy on the first Saturday of every month for a fun Cake-Decorating class, hosted by renowned bakers at our adored Old Town Italy stores 🎂

Start your morning at 10am, where you will learn a series of cake decorating techniques while sipping on refreshing Prosecco 🥂
This class includes your own cake to decorate and take home, Prosecco and a selection of Old Town High Tea treats.

See upcoming dates below:

5 June – Marble Buttercream
3 July
7 August
4 September
2 October
6 November
4 December

Price: R650 per person
Limited tickets available at each store

Enquire in store or contact us directly to book & find out more info: | 031 566 5008
Book here

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