The local mountain bike community is excited to get a first ever glance of its very own “proudly South African”, UCI accredited outfit competing on an international stage when four riders of the Kargo Pro MTB team tackle the UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg, presented by Shimano, at Cascades MTB Park from 11-13 April 2014.
The Kargo Pro MTB team became the host country’s first ever UCI accredited mountain bike team in January this year. Shaun Peschl’s outfit is excited by its quartet of riders earning 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 to build a team that is of international standard and that can do South Africa proud both locally and abroad,” described Peschl. “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 Pietermaritzburg in a few weeks’ time is incredible!” he added.
First year elite competitor and team ace Rourke Croeser will now be joined by fellow elite rider Stuart Marais, under-23 XCO returnee Travis Walker and emerging under-23 talent Paul Rodenbach as the four look to impress at Pietermaritzburg’s global showdown.
In 2013, Croeser had hoped for a strong showing in his final charge for an under-23 World Champs podium when Cascades played host to the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships. However, a broken chain just a few metres from the start line saw his top-three dream go up in smoke.
“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 it’s one that I fell really suits me so I’m looking forward to racing there against the best riders in the world in the near future.
Croeser suffered a nasty crash just a few days before the Western Cape Open, forcing him to retire from the race after two brave laps. The team put on a strong performance against a top-class field, which included many of the European-based Orange Monkey pro team riders.
Walker finished third behind race winner Matthys Beukes (SCOTT Factory Racing) and second place 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 many of South Africa’s mountain bike community’s eyes set to be firmly on Kargo’s stars, the pressure will be on the “new kids on the block”. With home ground advantage and the support of much of the large crowd expected to turn out at Cascades for this year’s World Cup, many are confident Peschl’s men will fly the South African flag high.
The UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, takes place at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 11-13 April 2014. More information can be found at www.mtbworldcupsa.co.za
Photo: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media
Source: 2014 UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg press release