Samantha Sanders Crowned Queen of the 2024 Attakwas Extreme

Efficient Infiniti Insure cyclist Samantha Sanders won the 2024 Momentum Medical Scheme Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, on Saturday, 20 January. Photo: Oakpics.com

Former South African marathon champion, Samantha Sanders conquered the Attakwaskloof amid temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius to win the 2024 Momentum Medical Scheme Attakwas Extreme from Chandelier Game Lodge to Pine Creek Resort, on Saturday, 20 January. 

Efficient Infiniti Insure’s Sanders rode a tactically astute race throughout the 121 kilometre course to win the women’s title. 

The Mercury was already dangerously high on Friday afternoon as the nearly 1 000 riders registered to take on the Hell of the South. As a result, Dryland Event Management instituted a mandatory regulation stipulating the minimum volume of fluid riders were allowed to start with. This and the relatively fresh memories of the scorching 2022 edition led to cautious approaches by the elite women. 

The racing, across the Klein Karoo, in the early morning hours was actually conducted in pleasant temperatures, and Sanders was part of an early elite breakaway. She was joined by Italian cross-country specialist Greta Seiwald, Danielle Strydom and defending champion Sarah Hill. 

“Danielle [Strydom] was surging a bit and setting too fast a tempo,” Hill said, explaining how the women’s field broke apart. “I decided, because of the heat, to rather not go with that group and to ride my own race.” 

Strydom climbed to the Queen of the Mountain hotspot, but Sanders and Seiwald remained in contact. Through the Attakwaskloof the top three women held their positions, while Hill had some difficult moments. 

Exiting the kloof, Sanders upped the tempo. 

“My plan had always been to take it easy to Bonniedale and Water Point 3, from there I had intended to push on,” Sanders retold. “I think Danielle spent too many matched on the early climbs, and she’ll learn from her first Attakwas experience. Once I took the lead, I could hear Greta [Seiwald] was breathing harder than me, on my wheel.” 

The pressure told on the Rockrider Ford star, who was making her marathon racing debut. “It’s my first ever XCM,” Seiwald laughed. “Now I know why you call it the Hell of the South. It was hard, but I really enjoyed it!” 

Sanders and Seiwald rode in first and second, separated by a steadily increasing margin through the second half of the route, and once in the lead, Sanders’ victory was never in doubt. 

As the minor podium places underwent late changes, Strydom faded through the last 40 kilometres while Hill regained her rhythm to finish strong, in third. Kelsey van Schoor ran out of road to reel Strydom in, and had to be content with fifth, 3 minutes off Strydom in fourth. 

The Momentum Medical Scheme Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, also has fiercely contested age category competitions, with Chantelle Bosch taking the Veteran Women’s title, Nicky Botes won the Master’s Women division, and Colleen Jacobs was crowned queen of the Women’s Grand Master’s category. 

In the shorter distance races, Eden Cycling’s talented young riders contested for age category positions. The 47 kilometre “Half” route saw Ilandrie du Plessis win the Junior Women’s (17-18 years) category, Rachelle Botha was victorious in the Youth Girls (15-16 years) race, while Lara van der Vyver took the Junior Girls (13-14 years) competition in the 32 kilometre “Mini”. 

Elite Leading Women’s Results at the 2024 Momentum Medical Scheme Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen

1. Samantha Sanders: Efficient Infiniti Insure (6:05:32)
2. Greta Seiwald: Rockrider Ford (6:11:58 | +6:26)
3. Sarah Hill: Complete Cyclist (6:40:08 | +34:36)
4. Danielle Strydom: Efficient Infiniti Insure (6:46:32 | +41:00)
5. Kelsey van Schoor: Pirtek Cube (6:49:48 | +44:16) 

Click here for the full results from the 2024 Momentum Medical Scheme Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, or visit www.atta.co.za for more information


Main Photo Caption: Efficient Infiniti Insure cyclist Samantha Sanders won the 2024 Momentum Medical Scheme Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, on Saturday, 20 January. Photo: Oakpics.com

Photo 2 Caption: Samantha Sanders dominated the second half of the route to win the women’s race. Photo: Oakpics.com

Photo 3 Caption: Italian XCO specialist, Greta Seiwald won silver making her XCM debut Attakwas Extreme. Photo: Oakpics.com

Photo 4 Caption: The women’s podium for the 2024 Momentum Medical Scheme Attakwas Extreme (from left): Sarah Hill, Greta Seiwald, Samantha Sanders, Danielle Strydom, and Kelsey van Schoor. Photo: Oakpics.com

Photo 5 Caption: Sanders was pushed hard in the second half by Italian Italian XCO specialist, Greta Seiwald. Photo: Oakpics.com

Photo 6 Caption: Danielle Strydom made the early break to comfortuably win the Queen of the Mountain Hotspot Prize. Photo: Oakpics.com

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