MTB veterans converge on city to ride it out for the Masters Champs

2013-08-21 00:00

AFTER months of eager anticipation, the serious racing gets under way today with the UCI MTB Masters World Championships, which for the first time ever are being hosted in conjunction with the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships that begin next week.

A total of 581 competitors from 30 countries have converged on the Cascades MTB Park at the foot of Pietermaritzburg’s Town Hill to contest the coveted UCI rainbow-striped world championship jerseys in the various over-30 age groups in the cross-country and downhill disciplines. Cyclists will test themselves against the best veterans and masters on the planet, and the tough and technical courses built for the occasion.

This week represents a gilt-edged opportunity for local riders who have been unable to travel to previous editions of the Masters Champs to make their mark, and not surprisingly South African men and women make up the lion’s share of this entry — 424 riders or 72% of the entry.

Masters riders have been spending as much time on the course as possible to familiarise themselves with the layout, and to master the numerous new technical challenges on what is being widely viewed as the most demanding Masters cross-country course ever built.

With course inspections and various other formalities taking place yesterday, the action on course gets under way today and tomorrow as all cross-country and downhill riders look to take full advantage of the free practice sessions from 9 am until 4 pm daily.

The downhill training then continues on Friday — women only from 9 am to 10.30 am and men only from 10.30 am to noon . The main focus will turn to the cross-country course where all of the women’s titles will be decided throughout the morning.

Friday’s women’s cross-country action gets under way at 9 am with the 30-34 and 35-39 age group categories setting off together where South African national champs Nedene Cahill (30-34) and Nicky Booyens (35-39) will look to fly the flag high for the host nation.

The 30-34 clash will also see Mariela Scott, national champion of Chile, and her Argentinian counterpart, Graciela Vargas, in action together with South Africans Jeannie Dreyer and Annie David while South African resident Eszter Erdelyi will also compete in the colours of her home country, Hungary.

The women’s 35-39 race will undoubtedly see 2012 Women’s 30-34 World Champion as the firm pre-race favourite, however, South African national champion Nicky Booyens and Genevieve Weber, Namibia’s national champ, are likely to have other plans, as will the likes of Sedly Rivas Gomora (Mexico) and Marie Walsh (USA).

South African marathon pocket-rocket Natalie Bergstrom does not know the meaning of “can’t” and will look to defy all odds as she builds from the women’s 40-44 national title she claimed in Port Elizabeth a few weeks ago.

The UCI MTB & Trials World Championships take place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from August 26 to September 1 and are preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships this week. Tickets for the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships can be purchased via and information can be found at

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