Stellenbosch – With less than a month to go to the Stihl SA MTB Championships presented by Subaru Cape Town/Novus Holdings, course builders are hard at work preparing the stage on which the action from the much-anticipated downhill national champs will unfold on Sunday 19 July.
The country’s top elite downhill mountain bikers are set to descend upon the region where they will go head to head for this year’s national title, something course designer Riaan du Preez aims to keep top of mind through the building process.
“The track is currently undergoing a complete revamp and if riders think it will be anything like the last nationals then they better think again!” Du Preez warns.
“We are looking to really up the game to make it a lot more technical and challenging, worthy of hosting a national championships,” he adds.
Due to the fires that scorched much of the region in March, Du Preez and his team have had to rethink a significant section of the route and are in a race against time to get the course ready in time.
“Apart from a lot of the area’s vegetation, the fires also burnt all the retaining materials and so a lot has had to change as a result.
“The guys are already out there building and going full steam ahead.
“It will be all hands on deck seven days a week from now until we’re done but we’ll get everything done in time!” assures Du Preez.
A major talking point of the new and improved route is the temporary road gap that is sure to challenge even the best of the best.
“The road gap is a monster!” confirms Du Preez.
“It is around eight foot high from the road to the lip of the takeoff and covers approximately twelve metres from where riders take off to where they land!
“There will be a chicken line on the day and we will remove this once nationals is done, for obvious reasons, but for those that give it a go I’m sure it will be a highlight.”The natural feel of the track is another stand-out characteristic of the reworked layout despite a few manmade elements still to be added.
“The course has a lot of natural obstacles such as tree stumps, roots and rocks.
“The start will be very steep and then goes into a gnarly left hand turn before the gradient flattens out a bit, making it the only pedally section of the course.
“There are then quite a lot of snaking berms left and right while the bottom section has a couple of sneaky hip jumps and rocky sections that will test riders just before they head for the finish line,” said Du Preez.
The Stihl SA MTB Championships presented by Subaru Cape Town/Novus Holdings take place in Stellenbosch with the Cross Country races being held on Saturday 18 July while the Downhill action unfolds on 19 July. More information can be found at http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-sa-mtb-champs/