A massive prize purse of R280000 has been confirmed for the inaugural Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival that takes place at Cascades MTB Park from 3-5 April, with everyone from the country’s top cross country, downhill, marathon and enduro talent battling against the world’s best and standing a chance of walking away with a share of their discipline’s and age group’s spoils.
The event’s full-bodied programme includes cross country, downhill, marathon and enduro events and riders able to compete in a multitude of events throughout the Easter weekend with prize money up for grabs across all age groups of all races.
R120000 of the pot will be on the line during the much anticipated elite men’s and women’s HC cross country events, R21000 for the various men’s and women’s masters cross country clashes and R80000 for the 50km and 20km marathon events while the remaining near-R60000 is up for grabs for the enduro and downhill adrenalin junkies.
“We are very grateful for the generous support we have received from the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation for cycling in the region in general, especially the Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival,” says event director Alec Lenferna.
“With no MTB World Cup coming to Pietermaritzburg this year we have been able to focus on the national scene a little more and we are thrilled to be able to put substantial prize money up across the various disciplines of the event,” he adds.
Those tackling the HC cross country event can prepare themselves for a course of similar nature to that which hosted last year’s opening leg of the UCI MTB World Cup.
“The cross country course will include about 90 percent of last year’s World Cup track with one or two tweaks so it will still be fairly challenging and aimed primarily at the racing snakes,” describes course designer Nick Floros.
“Our racing is getting closer and closer to international standards all the time plus we are aware of all the internationals in the country at the moment so I’m sure the HC course will be a good test for everyone!”The 50km Classic route will also have a world class nature to it as it looks to include sections used for the 2014 UCI MTB Marathon World Championships whilst still be perfectly manageable for the ‘average Joe’.
“The 50km event is more of a longer Classic than a 60+ kilometre marathon,” explains Floros. “We’ll use a lot of last year’s Worlds course but our challenge it to ensure that the course it set at the right level and is rewarding for the participants without being too difficult!”
The 50km Classic course will start and finish at the festival’s headquarters at Cascades MTB Park with a multitude of spectacular scenery and exciting riding to enjoy along the way.
“After contouring their way out of Cascades riders head for Albert Falls Dam, through the Edmond’s Farm and into Mount Verde game reserve which really will be a special part of the course!
“The climb out from there is a tough one but it is the only major climb of the day and it takes riders up to Otto’s Bluff where they will be able soak up the incredible views of Albert Falls, the Karkloof, Hilton College and surrounds before going through the downhill gate, down a stretch of cross country track and heading for the finish line at the bottom,” says Floros.
“The route is beautifully scenic, something that would not be possible without the incredible support we have received from the local landowners. They have been extremely accommodating and we are extremely grateful for their generosity!” he adds.
The 20km Family Ride gives those new to the sport and the kids the chance to enjoy a great day out on the bike too while the 10km Kids Ride focus more on the younger generation enjoying their slice of the action as well.
“We’ve looked to make the 20km route as easy as possible however participants should expect the course to be slightly more challenging than a couple other 20km events.
All in all, it’s going to be a special weekend of mountain bike racing with mountain bike enthusiasts able to partake in a host of different events throughout the weekend.
The 2015 Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival takes place at Cascades MTB Park from 3-5 April. More information on the Pietermaritzburg Mountain Bike Festival and the event’s full programme can be found at http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-pmb-mtb-festival