Just three weeks after competing and placing second overall at the 2017 Absa Cape Epic with OMX Pro Teammate Annie Last, South African MTB XCO Champion Mariske Strauss will be headed to the second round of the 2017 SA National MTB Cup Series XCO in Wolwespruit on Saturday 15 April.
“I’m very pleased with this year’s Epic,” says Strauss. “It was the first time that I raced with Annie, although we have been teammates for two years. We know each other well but have never raced together,” she added.
Strauss went into the competition with an open mind. She said: “Our goal was to finish on the podium – it was an achievable target. We would’ve been happy with a third place, and then we got the queen stage win, which was amazing, and it moved us up to second overall. I really enjoyed racing with Annie and our friendship grew stronger.”
Strauss says its now back to the norm of racing against her teammate and not with her. She also mentioned that her mind set is completely different doing the stage races as opposed to one-day cross-country race.
Although the international cross-country season only begins close to the end of May, Strauss feels that she couldn’t have had it work out any other way. “My base training has been slightly different, with more distance in my legs,” she added. Strauss’ focus has been mainly on quality rather than quantity. “I’ve learned that I don't have to be on the bike more than 500 hours,” she added.
When chatting about this weekend’s Cup Series, Strauss said: “The Western Cape opening race was a bit of a failed attempt. I finished in fifth place there. It is still early in the season and I still have some work to do. I went out to hard in the beginning and I just popped after lap two.”
Looking at the track, Strauss explains that when racing at Elite level, riders need to own each track that they race on. “Wolwespruit is nice and fun though, with some great technical bits and some good climbing sections. I’m positive and confident and will take the day as it comes,” she said.
For Strauss, she has a strong focus on the World Cups overseas, and one or two goals that she’d like to achieve while she’s there. “But I’ll also be mixing it up first with another stage race, as I have entered the Sani2C. I’ll probably miss the World Cup in Canada, but intend to compete in the rest of them,” she concluded.
Entries for the second round of the 2017 SA National MTB Cup Series XCO are currently open, and close on Tuesday 11 April. To pre-enter, click here: https://cyclingsa-events.co.za/app/. For more information about the Series, visit: https://www.cyclingsa.com/2017-sa-mtb-cup-series/. /ENDS