The sun rose to melt icy mountains for the last day of the MOTUL Roof of Africa. It was a heated third stage of the prestigious event, which saw a South African show take centre stage.
Brother Leader Tread KTM’s Travis Teasdale was the second man to step on the prestigious podium.
He set off from the startline with no other purpose than to catch Wade Young (Sherco Liqui Moly Racing). The race to top the leader board was always going to be tight, and despite the near 50 second lead that Young had established on day two, Teasdale quickly narrowed the gap.
The riders were less than a meter apart for the majority of the route until Young made his attack on Devil’s Staircase Pass, the first of two epic passes that were included in the Gold Class for the final stage.
Soldier’s Way was the last climb that riders would face, which saved the best and most treacherous terrain for last. Spectators gathered by the hundreds to witness the action that was about to unfold, and some even summited the 2420m peak to get the best view.
Young was the first man to hit the infamous pass after almost 100km of hard enduro time in the saddle. Teasdale soon followed and began chipping away at the lead that Young had established.
A sudden turn of events would seal Teasdale’s fate when he hit a trench that was around 2 meters deep! As he struggled to break free he looked back in a panic to see whether Graham Jarvis had caught up to him.
In a true ‘never say die attitude’ Teasdale dragged himself and his bike out of the pit to conquer what left of the climb and earn a the second spot on the podium.
“It’s been a tough few months of training, and an even tougher three days in the mountains. When I made the mistake of riding into that hole I thought my race was over. I managed to get my bike out, and it’s an honour to be at the finish line in second,” said Teasdale.
Alfredo Gomez (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was the next KTM rider to reach Soldier’s Way. After suffering from a wrist injury for the majority of his Roof of Africa experience, taking on a climb of this calibre was certainly not going to be easy.
Spectators were trying to point out the direction that Gomez should follow, but he chose a completely different line to get to the top.
Most onlookers thought that the rider had made a fateful mistake, but his technical experience led him to the summit without a struggle at all. It was his decision to take the difficult line that ultimately ensured his fifth overall position.
While he is pleased to have finished the event, Gomez will not rest until he gets his hands on the Roof of Africa title.
“This race was really fast, which doesn’t suit my technical style of riding. I really enjoyed that last climb though, and took a difficult line because it was shorter than the route the other riders were using. I still want to win this race, and I’ll be back,” said Gomez.
Brother Leader Tread KTM’s Scott Bouverie and Manuel Lettenbichler had everyone entertained as they continued to ride in alliance. It was clear that the race for the finish line was still on, but the two certainly seemed to be enjoying riding side by side.
The German-based rider was relieved to have the local experience that Bouverie offered, and Bouverie admitted that navigating was made easier with Lettenbichler around.
As they spurred each other on to get through Soldier’s Pass, Bouverie managed to get a slight lead. He quickly looked over his shoulder, however, to wait for his orange teammate to catch up.
When the finish line was in sight a heated sprint saw Lettenbichler take the win.
His father, Andreas Lettenbichler, was the next man to finish the race. The KTM Factory Racing legend will be happy to take a ninth place after three testing days, and at 43-years old adds another event to his wealth of hard enduro experience.
Other Brother Leader Tread riders to successfully cross the Gold Class finish line were Dwayne Kleynhans and Kirsten Landman.
Kleynhans fought past the pounding of rocky terrain to maintain his twelfth place overall.
Landman, the first female to ever complete the Gold route, adds another Roof of Africa notch to her belt. After battling with a mechanical issue for the past two days, Landman took the opportunity to showcase her technical skills and completely motored through Soldier’s Pass.
“Considering all the implications, I am super happy to have made it to the finish line to claim my second Gold medal at the Roof of Africa. A huge thank you to my awesome pit crew and mechanics, who were working overtime to fix my bike,” said Landman.
MOTUL ROOF OF AFRICA RESULTS
Final podium results and KTM top ten
1. Wade Young (Sherco) 10:41:28
2. Travis Teasdale 10:52:34
3. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 11:04:06
5. Alfredo Gomez 11:13:15
6. Manuel Lettenbichler 11:19:25
7. Scott Bouverie 11:19:35
9. Andreas Lettenbichler 11:30:58
12. Dwayne Kleynhans 12:09:01
39. Kirsten Landman 16:46:13