Riders test out tricky course

2014-06-14 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s top veteran and masters class mountain bike riders showed signs of hitting top form at the recent South African Marathon Championships, as they complete their preparations for age group tussle in the Rainbow Challenge final on Saturday, June 28.

The riders had the opportunity to test out a course very similar to the one that they will be riding on for the Rainbow Challenge at the national championships. And with the usual hands like current XCO Masters World Champion Paul Furbank and overall Masters winner Jan Whitaar, the field was competitive and will be just as tough when the Rainbow Challenge swings around.

Overall winner of the Masters race at the 2014 South African Marathon Championships Jan Whitaar has confirmed that he will be back in Pietermaritzburg for the start of the Rainbow Challenge in two weeks’ time. The Johannesburg resident was quick to point out that the course played into his hands and that gives him confidence going into the Rainbow Challenge.

“It was a tricky course; Nick [Floros] has really poured his heart and soul into it,” Whitaar said. “It was technically challenging and a number of people mentioned that it felt like a number of cross-country courses had been put together, which suits me down to the ground.

“I found that the course is so much better than other marathon courses that use gravel roads to make up the course but Nick only uses the roads as transition between the sections which is perfect for me and adds to the excitement of racing.”

Whitaar feels that being out on the course is a positive and can only stand him in good stead for the main event at the end of the month.

“It helped getting out there and learning about the course and finding out how much you are going to be required to push at certain sections of the course which other guys won’t know about.

“There are three solid climbs, so knowing how to pace yourself there is going to be important and with such a fun course I really enjoyed my time out there which bodes well for the Rainbow Challenge,” he said.

Paul Furbank was another winner at the recent SA Marathon championships and although he and his fellow riders have had the chance to ride on what is going to make up the majority of the Rainbow Challenge course, he does not feel that it is going to give them too much of an advantage.

“We did learn a huge amount from the course this weekend and how tricky it gets when you get tired so we have to keep our wits about us on this course,” he said.

Having won the national title in his age category, Furbank was still very circumspect about how he was going to shape up when the racing starts on Saturday, June 28.

“We had most of the strong guys riding last weekend, but Chris Brand was one of the guys that was missing, but he will be there for the Rainbow Challenge which adds good competition to our age category.

“He [Brand] is a specialist marathon rider whereas I prefer cross-country so I am not going to get ahead of myself and I think that a podium would be a good result for me,” Furbank added.

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