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Two new champions enthroned at Tour Durban

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Durban – Europcar’s Ryan Gibbons brought the five-year Team Abantu reign at the aQuellé Tour Durban presented by Sunday Tribune to an end with a thrilling victory in the men’s 105km race, while Cherise Stander (RECM) came out on top of a see-saw end-sprint that saw nine riders challenge for the women’s race laurels.

Racing in balmy clear and calm conditions the cagey elite men’s peleton made few serious attempts to break away, and the one splinter group that adventured away 25 kilomteres from the line was quickly brought back by the assertive Europcar team.

That set all the major teams up for the lead-out over the two tricky right-hand corners into the finish outside the Moses Mabhida stadium.

Defending champions Team Abantu looked well placed to send Rynhardt Butler to the line to defend his 2014 title, but when the call was made by captain

for the sprinter to assert himself, he wasn’t able to respond quickly enough and the Europcar train took charge at the final turn, sending an elated Gibbons to the line just ahead of Westvaal’s Tyler Day with triple champion Hoffman in third.

The 20 year-old from Randpark Ridge in Gauteng, was thrilled to win the 22 edition of the Durban classic and end the five years of dominance by the Durban-based Abantu outfit.

“We have finally got the Tour Durban monkey off our back!” said Gibbons. “Somehow we have never done that well in races in Durban, so we came into the race a little ‘under the radar’ but with a lot to prove, so we are thrilled with the win,”

The five strong team rode a tactically astute race and showed the form that took them to victory in the Mayoral Race in Polokwane last week and second place in the Emperors Palace Classic the week before.

“In the beginning things were quite negative, and even going up the climb to Pinetown there were a few attacks but nothing stuck,”  said Gibbons.

“We were all a bit intimidated by the Eritrean guys in the MTN Qhubeka Feeder team, but then we just felt that we shouldn’t play anyone else’s game but stick to our own.”

“Going up the M4 a five-strong bunch broke, with most of the team’s sprinters. Our guy in that bunch James Reid is very strong but no a sprinter per se so we had to take control and caught them.

“Coming into the final two kays my guys were just absolutely perfect! They took me straight to the front in a perfect lead out. We were second wheel – fifth, sixth and seventh – going into that first right-hand corner and then at the second right-hand corner we went to the front and took control.”

“This is a major race on the calendar so we are very chuffed with the result,” said Gibbons. “It gives us a lot of confidence going forward. Hopefully we can repeat this in the coming week of UCI races,” said Gibbons.

Team Abantu stalwart HB Kruger took the King of the Mountain hotspot, while MTB Qhubek’as Eritrean star Tesfom Issak Okubamariam took the Sprint hotspot outside Umhlanga.

The women’s race lived up to it’s billing as a clash of the champions, and culminated in a nine-rider breakaway that held all the way into the home straight, where RECM star Cherise Stander powered down the left of the finish lane to edge out 2013 champion Lynette Burger Pieterse (Activate/Demacon) and the defending champion Lise Olivier (Time Freight eTeam).

“It was really exciting, incredible racing from all the girls here,” said Stander. “The racing was so positive, super-intense and there were so many attacks.”

Stander was part of the assertive group that drove a strong attack going up the climb into Pinetown that splintered the elite women’s peleton and sent a breakaway group of nine riders to the front for the remainder of the race.

“Activate/Demacon were very aggressive during the race,” she added. “They work really well together as a team. We tried to split up the group before the end sprint but that didn’t work and all nine of us came into the final straight together!”

Stander, who carries massive sentimental support with her wherever she goes following the tragic death of her husband and MTB icon Burry Stander, said the result was very significant to her personally.

“Its been a really long two years and I have worked hard to try and get back to it. I am really happy that slowly but surely things are starting to fall back into place,” she said.

The women’s King of the Mountain hotspot went to An-li Kachelhofer (Activate/Demacon) and while Charlene du Preez (Clover) took the Sprint Hotspot.

Meanwhile the 55km cyclocross event was the source of huge interest as established MTB star Darren Lill won the event, gambling hugely by racing on his road bike.

The women’s title fell to the classy Candice Neethling (BMC-SA), racing away from the evergreen veteran and defending champion Nathalie Bergstrom.

The ideal weather conditions left the huge field of social riders who ventured up the recently resurfaced M4 on the 45km Fun Ride enjoying the security of the full road closure and the sublime riding conditions.

The days racing concluded with the Sunday Tribune Kids Race which was well supported by dozens of eager youngsters supported by their parents for the 1km non-competitive outing. In some cases parents who had completed their 105km or 45km ride were found wanting and struggled to keep pace with their offspring.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS
aQUELLé TOUR DURBAN 2015
Mens Elite 105km
1 Ryan Gibbons 02:26:10
2 Tyler Day 02:26:10
3 Nolan Hoffman 02:26:10
4 Reynard Butler 02:26:11
5 Herman Fouche 02:26:11
6 Meron Teshome Hagos 02:26:11
7 Christoff Van Heerden 02:26:11
8 Bradley Potgieter 02:26:14
9 Dusty Day 02:26:14
10 Gustav Basson 02:26:14
11 Shaun-Nick Bester 02:26:14
12 HB Kruger 02:26:14
13 Nicholas Dlamini 02:26:15
14 Metkel Eyob Teweldeberhan 02:26:18
15 James Fourie 02:26:20
16 Chris Jnr Jooste 02:26:20
17 Paul Alexander Van Zweel 02:26:21
181 Stephanus Reyneke 02:26:21
19 Peter-Lee Jefferies 02:26:21
20 Robert Du Preez 02:26:22

Women’s Elite 105km
1.Cherise Stander 02:52:39
2.Lynette Burger 02:52:39
3.An-Li Kachelhoffer 02:52:39
4.Charlene Du Preez 02:52:39
5.Lise Olivier 02:52:39
6.Juanita Venter 02:52:39
7.Bianca Haw 02:52:39
8.Heidi Dalton 02:52:39
9.Catherine Colyn 02:52:39

55km Cyclocross
Men
1.Darren Lill 1:39:04
2.3.Ryan Piercey 1:41:45
3.Jasper Van Vessem 1:43:35

Women
1.Candice Neethling 1:48:55
2.Nathalie Bergstrom 1:50:12

More information can be found at www.tourdurban.co.za.

#ProudlyDurbanite

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Attractions

Review: Goldfish Live in Durban

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Durban has a history of attracting rain when big live events happen, and thankfully on Friday night at Botanic Gardens, this did not deter the few thousand people that turned up to see Goldfish in the slightest.

Knowing it was going to be a bigger event they made the smart move of having the concert on the field next to the actual gardens, and thankfully so because of the wet conditions. It is lovely seeing bands perform amongst the trees next to the lake, but when you know you are going to have a huge crowd that Goldfish pull it’s an all round better experience that means everybody who comes gets a great view of the performance.

Jono Greenway Photography

The rain was always going to be a feature of the event, but thankfully it only rained as Goldfish started and then stayed dry for most of their performance, with most people happily dancing in the rain barely even noticing it. Some of my most memorable concerts I have been to are actually the ones where it has rained, maybe the performers put in a bit extra effort knowing that the people really want to be there and see them, even if it is raining.

And a performance it was. Goldfish never disappoint. They are masters of getting a crowd going, even if it is a cold rainy night in Durban. Despite being at it for many years now they thrive on the crowd interaction and still do such a great job of ensuring everybody who comes to watch them has a great time.

Jono Greenway Photography

Their second song “We Come Together” really summed up the night, the lyrics really rang true:
Oh, oh, when we come together
No matter the weather
We gonna love each other till the end of time (whoa, oh, oh)

If we all went through life with this attitude we might always have a good time, rain or shine.

….

Photo Credit: Jono Greenway

Want to get to know the duo better? Check out the short Q&A sesh we did with Goldfish a few years ago.

Jono Greenway Photography

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Accomodation

TOURIST IN OUR OWN CITY: HILTON DURBAN

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Durbanite recently had the pleasure of staying at the Hilton Durban. We submersed ourselves in the thought of being a tourist in our own city for the weekend.

The Hilton Durban welcomed ‘the hubster’ and I with warm lighting, open spaces, charming ocean-inspired décor and welcoming smiles! The staff were fantastic and after a quick check-in it was up to the 14th floor we went.

We had arrived at our room – our weekend of rest and relaxation had officially begun!

Presidential Suite Terrace

Presidential Suite Terrace

Things Get Cosier

Let’s be honest, sometimes what you see isn’t always what you get but I can happily confirm that in the case of the Hilton Durban, this certainly is the case and the expected level of luxury and comfort was met. We were booked into the King Executive Suite with Business Lounge Access.

Three things that stood out:

  1. The linen was lush! Soft and crisp to the touch.
  2. The USB ports built into each of the bedside tables were awesome! I am hinting to the hubster to get them installed at home – one day, when we’re ‘big’
  3. The luxurious bath!

The Executive Suite has everything you need for a weekend away. Coffee and tea station for a morning cuppa while you wake-up and soak-up the city or sea views. A comfy lounge with TV which is separate from the main room and en-suite bathroom. This room is only missing the kitchen… but with two fantastic restaurants a stone’s throw away, who needs to cook!

The room was clean, spacious, comfortable and homey with the ocean theme continuing in the gorgeous wall art.

Executive Suite - Hilton Durban

The Business Lounge

With complimentary continental breakfast, refreshments, snacks and fresh fruit available throughout the day – it is a wonder anyone would ever want or need to leave the Hilton Durban!

We popped into the lounge for breakfast and found the intimate buffet setting to be a delight! If you are able to upgrade to Business Lounge access during your stay at the Hilton Durban, you wont be disappointed.

The Business Lounge - Hilton Durban

High Tea – The Coral Lounge in the Lobby

Set in the center of the lobby, seated on comfy lounge-style chairs (with coral inspired room dividers) the girls and I were able to relax, enjoy and indulge over some much needed QT.

The chocolate fountain with strawberries for dipping was exciting and went down like a treat!

I find that often the savory is overlooked but not in the case of the Hilton Durban. Each delight was carefully thought out and prepared. The overall balance between sweet and savory was fantastic.

 The Hilton Durban offers two exceptional dining experiences, be sure to check out our reviews of Vasco’s Restaurant and the Big Easy!

ARE YOU…

Planning a trip to Durban and not sure where to stay?

A Durbanite looking for something new to do?

A foodie or wine lover looking to expand your horizons?

Then look no further and hook yourself up with a stay or visit to the Hilton Durban! 

If you are looking for things to do during your stay at the Hilton Durban in and around KZN, check out this list of 20 things to do!

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Entertainment

Gallery: Nitro Circus Live – Durban 2017

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If you didn’t make it to Nitro Circus this year you really missed out! Here is what you missed out on.
Photos by: Nick Ferreira / Instagram: the.travelling.lens

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