Lill teams with local MTB ace for 900 km challenge

2011-04-30 00:00

TEAM DCM’s reigning South African Road Champion, Darren Lill, has entered the nine-day Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race, which started yesterday, with every intention of winning it.

In what promises to be a formidable partnership, Lill will be riding alongside former national cross-country champion Brandon Stewart of Pietermaritzburg.

“It has always been in the back of our minds to do something like joBerg2c,” said Lill. “We’ll go in with high objectives — to win — because if you shoot lower, you won’t perform.”

Lill quickly validated new sponsor DCM’s faith in him by claiming the national champion’s jersey in his first race for the team in February. He was also the only South African to win a stage in the inaugural Cell C Tour of South Africa two weeks later.

“I trained really hard. It was a great way to start the season after the disappointment with the whole Pegasus thing.”

The Capetonian, who is renowned as a strong climber, said many of the road championship courses did not suit him as the distances were too short and favoured sprinters. “In my opinion, there’s not enough racing on the road, while the mountain biking side is really taking off and offering more in terms of tours,” said Lill.

“I think the joBerg2c will be a tester — part of me thinks it’s time for a bit of a change, if only for a season.”

In terms of local road racing, he said he had few objectives left to achieve and that mountain biking was looking increasingly attractive.

“I’ve heard the course has lots of great single track. It’s not overly technical, so it could be a good transition race.”

Lill believes mountain biking is becoming a viable professional option as the smaller teams are “less admin” for team owners. “Races like the joBerg2c are becoming solid events with good media exposure for sponsors.” He said he is looking forward to “a new and exciting challenge” and that the time spent riding long road tours overseas could give him the edge.

“Between Brandon and myself, we bring a lot of combined experience to the table: we complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Lill said he would have to follow Stewart’s lead in learning how to manage himself on a mountain bike, while his own touring experience would be useful in helping his team-mate pace him over the 900 kilometre course between Heidelberg in Gauteng and Scottburgh in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Either way, we’re going to enjoy it.”

Lill said he and Stewart will take the race “one step at a time”, and if all goes well, they will then decide whether to tackle the three-day Subaru sani2c through southern KwaZulu-Natal on May 19.

 

MOUNTAIN BIKING

The Stark Ayres Greytown MTB Classic is next up on the calendar. Saturday’s events include a 50 km at 9 am followed by a 30 km at 9.15 am and a 10 km and three-kilometre at 9.30 am, both of which are repeated at 2.30 pm. Sunday is the traditional 45 km Classic, 25 km Intermediate and three-kilometre kiddies’ ride.

All events take place from The Beehive outside Greytown on the Mooi River road. Catering and camping are available on site. Entries close on May 4. Details and entries at www.roag.co.za

The first race of the Momentum Health Short Course Series takes place at Kearsney College, Botha’s Hill, tomorrow morning. Registration/entry is from 6.30 am to 7.30 am with the first race starting at 8.00 am.

For more information, go to www.kznmtb.co.za

 

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