After two days of training and coming to terms with the tougher sections of the UCI MTB Masters World Championships course at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, it’s finally competition time on Friday.
The event’s 581 competitors from 30 different countries will be out to use all the knowledge they have gained over last two days on the international stage.
For many it has been a long build up to the event and being able to finally get going is something that they have been looking forward to for some time. One such soul is South African downhiller Kathryn Fourie who is champing at the bit as the time has finally arrived to get out on the track.
ÔÇ£This is the course that I learnt how to ride downhill on,ÔÇØ Fourie said. ÔÇ£(Thursday) was a lot better than Wednesday in terms of my rides and I’m feeling much better now. I did four rides and I have started putting together full runs which has really helped my confidence.ÔÇØ
There were a few falls on the downhill track on Thursday which made Fourie a little apprehensive but she went out on the course to prepare for her big qualifying run tomorrow.┬á “We only get one shot at the qualifying (on Friday) which is going to be tough but it will be good to see the speed of the other riders.
ÔÇ£With two days of training under the belt the other competitors will know the course a lot better now because they have had a lot of time out there. They have been really critical of the track in terms of finding the best lines and they have been going faster and faster over the last two days which makes the competition a bit tougher,ÔÇØ she said.
One of South Africa’s World Champion hopefuls is Natalie Bergstrom who takes to the cross country course in the women’s 40-44 year old category on Friday morning at 9am.┬áThe KZN North Coast star is ready to take to the track and is looking to the heavens and hoping Mother Nature can settle the dust on course before racing gets underway on Friday morning.
ÔÇ£I am so excited and really looking forward to racing! I think that we are in for some good weather tomorrow and there is a good crowd of girls here so I think it is going to be a really exciting race. The course is looking good and a little bit of rain tonight to settle the dust would be brilliant,ÔÇØ the Coffeeberry/Momsen rider said.
Her intentions are clear with winning the rainbow jersey being Bergstrom’s sole focus as she anticipates extensive South African success in Pietermaritzburg over the next 10 days.┬áÔÇ£I am in it to win it ÔÇô that is definitely my main goal!ÔÇØ said Bergstrom.
ÔÇ£I have worked hard this year and I am focusing on the win tomorrow but looking at our other riders, we have a great chance as a country tomorrow with good odds on a number of the guys and girls in the Masters this weekend and then Greg next week. It would be nice for our local riders to bring a couple of gold medals home this weekend,ÔÇØ she added.
The Cascades MTB Park is all set and ready to go ahead of the first event getting underway on Friday morning with the energy and atmosphere around the park in anticipation of the start of South Africa’s first ever Mountain Bike World Championships.┬áÔÇ£The buzz around here is incredible and I think that everybody is getting pretty pumped up for the whole event,ÔÇØ said Bergstrom.
“We’ll race on our home course, the event gives so many South Africans the opportunity to race in an event that they don’t have access to all that often and having it here gives families a fantastic opportunity to come watch and support our riders.ÔÇØ