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Sauser adds to occasion

Switzerland’s men’s cross-country mountain bike world champion, Christoph Sauser gave the first round of the 2009 UCI World Cup a boost when he confirmed he will compete in the race in Pietermaritzburg next month.

This follows the news that women’s cross-country world champion, Margarita Fullana of Spain, would be topping the entry list in what will be the most prestigious international cycling event ever held in South Africa.

Sauser is one of the biggest names in mountain bike racing, having won World Championship titles in both marathon and cross-country disciplines and been a dominant podium topper at the highest level of the sport for more than a decade.

The 32-year-old has among his achievements 14 World Cup victories and two overall World Cup Series titles. He was the marathon world champion in 2007 and became the cross-country world champion for the first time in 2008.

ÔÇ£South Africa is my second home, so for me to be able to race a World Cup here is very special,ÔÇØ┬Ø said Sauser, as he completed final preparations for the Absa Cape Epic stage race, which started in Cape Town today.

ÔÇ£I have many friends and fans in South Africa and it will be good to be able to race a cross-country World Cup in front of them. Cross-country is my priority. Even though I am racing the Cape Epic stage race, all my preparation this year has been for the World Cup,ÔÇØ┬Ø continued Sauser.

Such is the high level of competition in men’s cross-country racing, that Sauser has finished second in the World Cup Series three times, has three World Championship silver medals, and bronze medals each from a World Championships and an Olympic Games.

ÔÇ£It is very good for mountain biking in South Africa and also Africa to host a World Cup. The Cape Epic took mountain bike racing in South Africa to a new level and I think the World Cup in Pietermaritzburg is a product of that. I think the World Cup will take the sport even further. I look forward to being a part of that.ÔÇØ┬Ø

Sauser will pair up with South African star, Burry Stander, on the Mr Price Specialized team to tackle the eight-day, 685km Cape Epic, an event in which the pair are among the favourites to capture the overall win.

The World Cup, which incorporates the cross-country, downhill and 4X disciplines, takes place in Pietermaritzburg from 10-12 April.