The Stihl 2016 SA MTB Cup Series kicks off in less than two weeks at Mankele MTB Park, Mbombela, on Saturday 30 January. With a UCI Category 1 status for the Elite Men and Women, this event has potential to bolster individuals in UCI Rankings for all-important Olympic qualification quotas.
Four of the five MTB Cup Series legs hold a UCI Category 1 status, and one of them carries a UCI Category 2. With 2016 being an Olympic year, Elite cross-country athletes are cranking up the gears in terms of training and focus as they face one of their most important seasons yet. Most of the nation’s top riders will do their utmost to compete in as many of these races as they can in order to increase their individual points tally on home soil.
Entries have flooded in over the past week, with names including South African XCO Champions James Reid (Team Spur) and Cherie Vale (Novus OMX Pro Team). Other top Elites entered so far include Candice Neethling (Freewheel Cycology/Pam Golding Properties), Mariske Strauss (Novus OMX Pro Team) Bianca Haw (SpecializedSA/Red Bull), Sipho Madolo (Song.info) and Scott Factory Racing Pro MTB Team (Powered by LCB)’s Philip Buys.
Novus OMX Pro Team rider, Mariske Strauss is back in full force and ready to tackle 2016 by the horns: “I’m super excited. I have decided that 2016 is going to be an amazing year. Everything seems to be in order and going according to plan. All injuries are behaving so I think I’m getting the hang of it now. Novus OMX has helped tremendously during my “troubling” times, and has been such a great support. Jeroen Swart has been keeping me fighting fit. I’m positive, happy and excited for 2016.
“Hopefully we can get those slots for Rio – that’s obviously the main goal,” she said.
On the subject of MTB Cup Series, Strauss says that it has been a while since she has felt this great on her bike. “There are of course a lot variables that come into play on the day – we know the sport – that’s the way it goes,” she added.
The 24-year-old looks forward to being back on the bike and racing “full on”. “Let’s hold thumbs for some titles this year, and hopefully get ourselves to Rio – that will be the best thing ever,” she concluded.
The event, which is open to all age categories, will also see the Juniors take to the track as part of their UCI Junior World Series, getting a chance to earn favourable seedings for the 2016 UCI MTB World Championships in Nove Mesto na Morave (CZE) from 28 June to 3 July. This Junior World Series race is one of three being held in South Africa.
Online pre-entries are open, and close on Tuesday 26 January 2016 at midnight. Click here to enter: https://entries.cyclingsa.com/events/3321-sa-cup-series-xco-1. Late entries will be accepted at registration, with a nominal charge of R50 in addition to the entry fee.
For event information, please visit http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-sa-mtb-cup-series/, or contact Mark Meyer on 078 801 0453 (for event info); or Dellah Paul on 082 781 5656 (for administration info).