World’s best riders to do battle

2014-06-27 00:00

AS many as 136 men and women from 31 nations and six continents around the world have entered for this weekend’s UCI MTB Marathon World Championships that take place in ­Pietermaritzburg on Sunday, determined to do battle in the search of the coveted UCI rainbow-striped world champion jersey.

Host nation South Africa are unsurprisingly the strongest represented ­numerically with no fewer than 28 men and 18 women set to fly the Rainbow Nation’s flag high at the event, while Germany contribute the largest number of foreign riders with their 12 male and five female competitors.

Cycling South Africa’s official federation men’s team consists of national MTB marathon champ James Reid (Trek SA), Kevin Evans (FedGroup ITEC), Darren Lill (Cannondale Blend/Powered by RED-E), Nico Bell (Team RECM), Waylon Woolcock (Cannondale Blend) and Sipho Madolo ( while Robyn de Groot (Biogen Toyota), Candice Neethling (Time Freight VELOlife), Jeannie Dreyer (Hi-TEC/USN), Yolandi du Toit (Garmin SA), Ashleigh Moffatt (Time Freight VELOlife) and Amy McDougall (Valencia).

While many local supporters will be hoping the hometown advantage and local course knowledge will produce a fairytale podium finish for at least one of the South African riders on home soil, most of the world will have their eyes firmly on the plethora of Europeans stars.

Men’s defending world champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized Racing) leads a potent Swiss outfit and, together with the likes of Urs Huber (Team Bulls) and cross-country expert Ralph Naef (BMC Racing), will hope to ensure Switzerland are again a force to be reckoned with at this year’s Worlds.

The Czech Republic team, the same size as the Swiss, are also a formidable force and former cross-country world champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing), Kristian Hynek (Team Bulls) and former road sensation Frantisek Rabon could all find themselves towards the sharp end of the field this Sunday.

German cross-country champ ­Milatz Moritz is another of the shorter format specialists set to tackle this year’s marathon challenge and joins Karl Platt (Team Bulls) and current world number one Steffen Thum in the formidable German outfit.

Austria’s Alban Lakata, France’s Thomas Dietsch and Remi Laffont and Belgium’s Roel Paulissen all add to the fascinating mix of European-based podium hopefuls while Colombia’s Hector Paez Leon may look to get in on the act as well as he flies the flag for South America.

The men’s race will also see riders from Namibia, Mauritius and Lesotho join hosts South Africa as the African representatives whilst four Nepalese riders, making their World Champs debut, join Japan’s Yuki Ikeda as the Asian flagbearers.

Australia and New Zealand will both shine for the Australasian region while Canada’s Cory Wallace and Timothy Carleton are the only North American competitors.

The women’s clash is set to be an interesting one as the likes of Belgium’s Alice Pirard, Hungary’s Eszter Dosa and Switzerland’s Milena Landtwing look to put their recent UCI Marathon Series form to good use when they go up against some the biggest names of the sport.

The likes of Annika Langvad (Denmark), Sabine Spitz (Germany), Sally Bigham (Great Britain) and Esther Suss (Switzerland) are all hugely experienced, have been at the front of the field previously and will be tough to beat.

Tereza Hurikova (Czech Republic) will look to build on her recent European Champs success while the Stellenbosch-based Swiss rider Ariane Kleinhans (Team RECM) will hope her knowledge of the terrain will help her overcome the stiff challenge she faces.

Spectators eager to catch all the action live can access Cascades MTB Park for free while all the action will be streamed live via the event website,

2014 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships by numbers

1 – the position three-time winner and men’s defending champ Christoph Sauser (SUI) aims to finish

2 – North American riders entered

3 – South American countries to be represented in 2014

4 – Australasian riders entered

5 – Asian riders entered

8 – returning former world champs (5 men, 3 women)

18 – South African women entered

28 – South African men entered

31 – nations set to compete in 2014

50 – toilets available in the race village and out on course

52 – African riders entered

67 – European riders entered

74 – distance, in kilometres, of the women’s course

85 – marshalls distributed throughout the 95 km course

95 – distance, in kilometres, of the men’s course

136 – male and female riders entered

325 – litres of both 32GI energy drink and water to be distributed to riders on course

450 – portage metres included in 74 km first loop of the 95 km course

500 – litres of 32GI energy drink distributed at the finish line

1 500 – metres of tape used to demarcate the 95 km route

1 500 – metres of network cabling used throughout the race village

3 150 – climbing metres the men will have to endure in the 95 km course.

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