MTB elite already plan return

2012-03-17 00:00

AS international cyclists, foreign media and fans gathered at Cascades in Pietermaritzburg yesterday for the UCI MTB downhill World Cup qualifying runs, it was interesting to hear what mountain-biking’s jetset had to say about the event and the city.

Heidi Sandstø (28) from Norway: “I am enjoying the heat as the winter back home is long and it’s great to ride in shorts and short sleeves. I am riding in the cross-country and the course is hard and tough. Some world champions even saying it’s tricky, with plenty of technical elements. I am ready to definitely come back in the future.”

Oscar Harnström (21) from Sweden: “It’s cool to be here. Pietermaritzburg is a great place, and a day in Durban, at the sea and surfing a day before going home, rounds off a great trip. I’m here for the downhill race and the course is really good, better than last year. There are bigger jumps and more down sections. This event rates with the best and I will definitely be back in South Africa on vacation soon.”

Armin Küstenbrück, a photographer from Germany: “As a freelancer ... I travel around the world. I find the humidity here very high and need to come back and see the real Africa, the wild Africa. Here in Pietermaritzburg, looking at the forest next to the track, it looks like any forest in Europe. [Pietermaritzburg] feels like home and I need to plan a trip to see what Africa is all about...

“As for the cross-country course, it’s quite dangerous for the first race of the season.”

Steffen Baptist, UCI TV co-ordinator from Switzerland: “I can say the heat is better than the shitty weather back home. Pietermaritzburg is a great venue for this event. Despite comments from some riders that [the cross-country course] is a little too much, I think it’s a good mix of challenges and skill. We must remember this is mountain biking, not road

cycling.

“I like the South African food and enjoy people and places being close to nature. A holiday next winter with some of my mates is definitely on, with visits to Cape Town and Durban.”

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