4 July 2013
Leading South African under-23 cross country mountain biker Rourke Croeser has set his sights on a top performance at the 2013 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships, to be held at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September.
Croeser will look to make full use of his wealth of international racing experience, as well as the advantage of racing at home.
Having grown up in Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) Zululand region, Croeser was fortunate to then spend two years living and competing in Europe, which is something he feels has helped his riding immensely.
He now calls Ballito on KZN’s north coast home and with regular training trips to Cascades and having competed in countless races at the venue, Croeser is relishing the opportunity August’s global spectacle presents.
“I have really high hopes for the World Champs,” he said. “I’ve been to the Worlds since I was a junior and this will be my fifth World Champs I’ve competed in, so I now know what to expect and I’m really looking forward to this year’s event.
“The fact that the event is being held at Cascades is also a huge benefit to us locals. We can go up there and train on the course whenever we like and we race there all the time.
“Just last week I was up there twice in five days, riding sections over and over again, and in the next 10 weeks building up to the World Champs I will complete over 60 laps of the course in World Champs’ specific training, which can only be a good thing,” added the Orange Monkey competitor, who competes in the colours of Kargo MTB Pro team locally.
Familiarity with the route and surroundings, the comfort of being close to home and the support of the local crowd are all small elements on their own. However, when added together, Croeser believes they play a vital role in developing a smooth routine in the period just before race day, which is a huge advantage he will have over those travelling from abroad.
“I really know the course at Cascades and for some reason it just seems to suit my style of riding. I don’t know what it is, but I just feel good on that course, which really helps you prepare mentally,” he reckoned.
“Having done as many laps as I would have by the time the Worlds get here also gives me huge confidence. I’ll know beforehand what sort of tyre choices, tyre pressures, gears and the rest of the setup works best for me in almost all conditions.
Detailing his plans in the lead-up to the event, Croeser said: “I will also get myself a place up in Maritzburg for the week before the race. I’ll stay up there and just make sure that I’m as comfy as possible, don’t have to travel too far, and try to take out as many of the little stresses as possible.
“It’s those little comforts that all add up and make a big difference and when you look at the margins that we’re dealing with, that little bit really counts at this level,” he added.
Apart from seeking a top personal performance Croeser, is hopeful and confident that the rest of the South African under-23 competitors will have a solid outing on race day as many of the locals look to burst into the cut-throat environment of elite racing in the next year or two.
“I really believe our local guys can do super well at the World Champs this year, possibly even having four riders finish in the top 20!” predicted Croeser.
“James (Reid) knows how to do well in Maritzburg, Brendon (Davids), if he gets it right on the day, can do really nicely and a couple of the others are going really well, so hopefully it all just comes together for all of us on the day of the race.