After conquering the Roag Series last year, Midlands mountain biking star Stuart Marais and his new team, NanoTime, are headed to the new season with even bigger ambitions.
Early last month, Howick-born Marais was confirmed as the 2020 Roag Series winner in the men’s event as he collected 486 points.
The 32-year-old’s nearest rival, Brandan van Eeden, managed 460 points in a season that was disrupted by Covid-19, like all other sports events in the country.
His success in the competition came soon after he joined team NanoTime, which he described as the heart of the side during their formation in August.
“After winning the Roag Series last year I was really happy to take the title, especially with everything that went down with Covid-19 and a lot of races being cancelled, and Roag having to make a lot of changes at the last minute,” said Marais.
“I was quite happy that they actually managed to finish that year. There are still a couple races at the Roag series that I haven’t managed to win yet — Karkloof being one of them.”
Five mountain bikers make up Team NanoTime — Matt Beers, Wessel Botha, Zandri Strydom, Nico Bell and Marais, who is their KZN representative.
The team have emphasised their ambition of doing well at the country’s major cycling events such the Cape Epic, with the hope that Covid-19 regulations will allow for such events to go ahead this year.
“From the team point of view, we’ve got some bigger ambitions for the year with Cape Epic being obviously one of them, Sani2c, Cape Pioneer Trek. We’ve got really big events that we are eyeing out,” said Marais.
A number of cycling events that normally take place early each year have been pushed back to at least March because of the second wave of Covid-19 and Marais says he has been using the gap to sharpen up for the season ahead.
“Unfortunately, a lot of our races have already been postponed or pushed back to later on the year or even cancelled.
“There is no guarantee as to when we are going to be able to race again but I’m kind of using the time to try and work on some aspects that I’ve been lacking on for the last few months. During Covid I haven’t been able to get to the gym a lot and do the gym work.”