But for a puncture just 40 kilometres from the finish of the 450-kilometre two-day race, they would have enjoyed a well-deserved victory by around 1 min 30 sec instead of finishing as frustrated runners-up 2 min 59 sec in arrears.
“That’s cross country racing,” said a philosophical Hutchison, who is seeking his sixth national cross country championship in 10 years. “We did everything we could to win today after missing out on winning Friday’s qualifying race by just three seconds. This meant we had to start behind (eventual winners) Quintin and Kallie Sullwald (BAT Venom) today.
“Although it was very dusty and overtaking was not easy, we managed to reach the halfway compulsory service stop in Harrismith in first place, 53 seconds ahead of Quintin and Kallie. We stretched this out to over a minute and a half before the misfire slowed us and then we had the puncture, which cost us several minutes when we stopped to change the wheel.
“Congratulations to the Sullwalds on their victory. We had a good battle with them out there and we look forward to meeting them again in the next round. We are happy with the points we scored today, which provide a good platform to build on in the seven rounds remaining.
“Congratulations, also, to the organisers for an excellent event and route. This was new ground for the championship in the Harrismith area of the Free State and turned out to be a really tough but very enjoyable event. One of the best I’ve competed in.”
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