The race doubles as the opening round of the SA Cup offering up valuable UCI points for Juniors and Elites. The more points our locals can grab the better SA’s likely ranking, helping secure more spots for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Hosting the event is the home of the Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club’s trail network, Bloemendal Wine Estate. Western Province Mountain Biking Commission, along with the Tygerberg MTB Club, has been instrumental in putting the series together, and will also partner for the Western Province Enduro and Marathon Series’ later in the year.
The XCO format offers a chance for the whole family to partake, with Nippers and Sprogs tearing it up on a shorter track in the morning before the older ladies and gents test their tickers after. It’s also spectator friendly as most of the track can be seen from the start line and a short walk through the Renosterveld will get you a great vantage point to watch some air-time from the talented riders. Bring your own shade, this weekend looks like a scorcher.
The Bloemendal XCO track underwent a facelift mid-way through 2018 that included new tech features and some skill-enhancing drops, jumps and rock gardens. The Tygerberg MTB club designed the new course with the specific intention of developing young talent that is equipped with the technical skills required to be competitive on the local and international stage. The 4.4 km track climbs a total of 170 metres over the lap, with the current Strava KOM in the hands of Matt Beers (12 mins 27 secs). Current under 23 World Champion Alan Hatherly is only a second behind Beers and won at the last SRAMXCO event held at Bloemendal.
This year, Alan will not only have to contend with the local pros, but his Specialized teammates of Sam Gaze and Simon Andreassen are both on the start list. There will be a strong Swiss influence in the men’s Elites with 11 riders on the start list including Matthias Stirnemann and Nicola Rohrbach. On Sunday, current Marathon World Champion Henrique Avancini will also make an appearance.
530 pre-entries have already been confirmed with a strong international female contingent too. Briton Annie Last, Hungarian, Barbara Benko and Kathrin Stirnemann (all ranked in the top 30 worldwide) are set to test the local might of Cherie Redicker and Mariska Strauss. All in all, more than 15 different nations are represented at the event, showcasing South Africa’s position as a world-class mountain biking destination.
Racing for the Pro-elites and Junior categories takes place on both days meaning there are two opportunities for UCI points and a headstart on the Europeans who are currently Zwifting indoors.