12 March 2014
Local mountain bike fans will get to watch their own “proudly South African” UCI-accredited team competing on the international stage when the four-man Kargo Pro MTB team tackles the UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg from 11 to 13 April.
The Kargo Pro MTB team became the country’s first ever UCI accredited team in January this year, and Shaun Peschl’s outfit is excited by its quartet of riders having now earned enough points to compete on home turf in their team’s colours in a few weeks’ time after a strong performance at the UCI category 2 Western Cape Open race on Saturday, 8 March.
‘We have worked really hard’
“We have worked really hard to build a team that is of international standard and that can do South Africa proud both locally and abroad,” Peschl said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Receiving our UCI accreditation a little while ago was such an amazing step for us in our international journey, and now to have four riders who have qualified to ride in Kargo colours in Maritzburg in a few weeks’ time is incredible,” he added.
First year elite competitor and team ace Rourke Croeser will be joined by fellow elite rider Stuart Marais, under-23 cross-country returnee Travis Walker and emerging under-23 talent Paul Rodenbach as the four look to impress at Pietermaritzburg’s global showdown.
In 2013, Croeser was expected to be a contender in the under-23 category at the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships at the Cascades MTB Park, but a broken chain just metres after the start saw his dreams go up in smoke moments after the contest had begun.
Now, he is looking forward to returning to the track where he has spent many hours in recent years and is hoping for a solid first showing on the international elite men’s stage in Kargo’s colours.
‘An exciting time’
“It’s an exciting time for our Kargo team as we build towards this year’s World Cup in Pietermaritzburg,” said Croeser.
“We know the course at Cascades really well and its one that I feel really suits me, so I’m looking forward to racing there against the best riders in the world in the near future.
“It will be great to have the four of us competing in Kargo colours at the World Cup and hopefully we can put in a performance that really excites the South African mountain biking community because this is about them as much as it is about us, the riders,” he concluded.
Despite Croeser having suffered a nasty crash just days before this past weekend’s Western Cape Open, which forced him to retire from the contest after two brave laps, the team still enjoyed a strong showing against a top class field, which included many of the European-based Orange Monkey pro team.
World Cup qualification
Walker and Rodenbach both put in strong performances with Walker finishing third behind race winner Matthys Beukes (SCOTT Factory Racing) and second placed Gert Heyns (ASG Cycling), while Rodenbach finished ninth and, in the process, claimed the all-important two UCI points needed for World Cup qualification.
With the South African mountain bike community firmly behind them, the pressure will be on the newcomers to deliver an impressive performance at Cacades. However, with home ground advantage and the support of the large crowd, many are confident Peschl’s men will fly the South African flag high.
The UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, is the opening round of the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup.