EL rider shows true grit at Roof of Africa

Just four months after breaking both his wrists on a training ride, East London’s extreme enduro rider Sage McGregor finished fifth in the silver class in the 2016 Motul Roof of Africa which ended on Saturday.

GRUELLING RIDE: East London’s Sage McGregor finished fifth in the Roof of Africa’s silver class Picture: ANDREW STONE
GRUELLING RIDE: East London’s Sage McGregor finished fifth in the Roof of Africa’s silver class Picture: ANDREW STONE

The city’s top finisher in the gold class after three gruelling days of off-road motorcycle racing was Matthew van Niekerk, who finished 33rd on his KTM.

McGregor, 20, also on a KTM, was forced off his bike for three months after breaking his wrists while on a ride in Transkei. He only returned to riding a month ago and entered the silver class as a precaution. Last year he finished 36th in gold.

“My wrists were fine but Saturday’s ride was really bumpy, so they were sore that night,” he said yesterday. “But I’m stoked with my fifth position. A couple of months ago, I didn’t think I’d be going to the Roof, so to be able to compete was just great.”

McGregor’s brother Tristan, 17, riding his first Roof, finished 13th in the bronze class while another city resident, Russell Heger, finished 67th in silver. Mthatha local Alex de Witt finished 40th in bronze.

The more than 400 competitors taking part in the race, which is run through the rugged Lesotho mountains, are divided into the three classes depending on ability.

The results weren’t quite as good for the other riders from East London though. Mark Fox (gold) and Charl Weyer, Wayne Bouchier, Shane Sutherland and father and son duo Clayton and Cole Heyns (all bronze) were unable to finish for various reasons.

The overall race was won by the UK’s Graham Jarvis on a Husqvarna followed closely by Spanish rider Alfredo Gomez Cantero on a KTM, just nine seconds separating the two.

South African Scott Bouverie was in third, also on a KTM, some seven minutes back.

This is the fourth time the 41-year-old Jarvis has won the Roof since 2011.

“I got about halfway through and realised it would be a sprint for the line,” said Jarvis at the finish. “From the last fuel stop, we just went for it though, there was definitely a bit of luck involved too.”

Meanwhile, the race claimed its first life in its 49-year-old history on Friday. At this stage details are still unclear, but race organisers on Saturday tweeted: “Willie-John le Hanie sustained fatal injuries on Friday while competing in the event.

“On behalf of everyone at Motul Roof of Africa, we would like to extend our condolences to the wife and family of Willie-John le Hanie.”

In another first, South Africa’s Kirsten Landman became the first women to finish the gold class when she crossed the line in a highly respectable 31st place. — andrews@dispatch.co.za

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