26 June 2014
A total of 136 men and women from 31 countries will do battle for the coveted UCI rainbow-striped world champion’s jersey at the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on Sunday.
Host nation South Africa is unsurprisingly the strongest represented numerically, with 28 men and 18 women set to fly the Rainbow Nation’s flag high at the event, while Germany contributes the largest number of foreign riders with their 12 male and five female competitors.
South African team
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 (songo.info).
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) make up the women’s line-up.
While local supporters will be hoping for hometown advantage and local course knowledge to result in a fairytale podium finish for at least one of the South African riders on home soil, the Europeans stars are the contenders to watch.
Men’s defending world champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized Racing) leads a potent Swiss outfit, which is familiar with South African shores conditions and, together with the likes of Urs Huber (Team Bulls) and cross-country expert Ralph Naef (BMC Racing), will be out to ensure Switzerland is again a force to be reckoned with at this year’s Worlds.
The Czech Republic team, the same size as the Swiss, is also formidable and former cross-country world champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing), Kristian Hynek (Team Bulls) and former road sensation Frantisek Rabon could all find themselves at 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. He joins Karl Platt (Team Bulls) and current world number one Steffen Thum in a powerful German outfit.
Austria’s Alban Lakata, France’s Thomas Dietsch and Remi Laffont and Belgium’s Roel Paulissen all add to a fascinating mix of European-based podium hopefuls, while Colombia’s Hector Paez Leon will be aiming to get in on the act and fly the flag for South America.
The men’s race will also see riders from Namibia, Mauritius and Lesotho joining hosts South Africa as the African representatives, while four Nepalese riders who will be making their World Championships debut, join Japan’s Yuki Ikeda as the Asian standard bearers.
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 race 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 Championships 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 on Sunday 29 June, while all the action will be streamed live via www.mtbworldchamps.co.za.