PMB youngsters hope to steal the show at Eston MTB Challenge

2012-08-02 00:00

ESTON — Some of the country’s exciting young talent will be on display at Sunday’s 60 km Illovo Marathon, the feature race of the Illovo Eston MTB Challenge, and will be hoping they can outgun some of the sport’s household names and clinch a shock victory.

Kloof’s Luke Roberts (RE:CM) and Travis Walker (Team Jeep) of Pietermaritzburg are two such youngsters.

Having enjoyed many a tussle over the past few years on both the cross-country and marathon circuits, they will be out to not only get another good result over the other, but also to put a real spanner in the works of the plans of some of the country’s top MTB stars.

“Eston is always a great race with many of the top guys coming out for it. I’m sure Brandon [Stewart] will be out there trying his best to try defend his title and a couple others will be keen to take it from him,” said Walker.

“All the big boys come out for this one. It really is a fantastic race and the course is superb to race on.

“It takes you through such a beautiful part of our province [KwaZulu-Natal] and it really is one many of us look forward to,” echoed Roberts.

“It’s always tough racing against Brandon [Stewart] especially in this one which is basically a home race for him,” he added.

Despite their chances being slim, the pair have shown good form in recent weeks and are determined to give it their all.

Walker in particular will be hoping things fall into place a little better than they did for him last year, and if things come together for the young duo, who knows what could happen for them on the day.

“I picked up quite a nasty injury a couple of months ago when I [ran into] a tree and the resultant haematoma meant I was on crutches for 10 days and had to go for three sessions of pretty tough physio three times a week,” said Roberts.

“It took me a full month to regain my strength fully, but I’m back now and I’m looking forward to this weekend,” he added.

“I picked up seven punctures in last year’s race, so I’m definitely hoping that doesn’t happen again this year and that things go a little better this time round,” added Walker.

The pair have squared off against one another many times before, but with both focusing on a different discipline of mountain biking to the other.

However, neither would miss out on such a golden opportunity to get one over the other such as the Illovo Eston MTB Challenge.

“Trav [Walker] and I always have a really good duel, with me usually having the upper hand in the XCO and him being a bit stronger in the marathons,” said Roberts.

“Luke has been overseas a bit recently and has been in some really good form. Hopefully I can get ahead of him on Sunday though, because he’s forever beating me in cross-country,” chuckled Walker.

Regardless of what goes on between the pair, these two talented young riders will definitely be worth keeping an eye on come race day on Sunday, and both will be hoping for a solid day in the saddle.

“If I can get onto the podium I’ll be really happy,” said Walker.

“My two team-mates, Waylon Woolcock and Neil MacDonald, are coming down for the race and will definitely be out there for the win, so I’ll probably play more of a supportive role to them, but I’ll definitely still give it my all and see what I can do,” added Roberts.

The Illovo Eston MTB Challenge offers riders the option of taking part in either the 60 km Illovo Marathon, 40 km aQuellé Half Marathon, 18 km Tala Family Ride or 10 km Milky Lane Kids Ride.

More info can be found at www.illovoestonmtb.co.za and pre-entries can be submitted via www.roag.co.za.

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