Eston – Defending women’s champion Jeannie Dreyer has confirmed she will return to KwaZulu-Natal’s Midlands on Sunday for this year’s Illovo Eston MTB Challenge which she hopes will pan out in her favour once more.
The USN/Hi-Tec athlete claimed a comprehensive victory at the Eston Club annual last year when she overcame the likes of international rider Kendall Ryan, emerging junior sensation Bianca Haw and regular KZN top performer Eszter Erdelyi.
With Ryan back home in the States, Erdelyi injured and Haw’s 2014 participation unclear, Dreyer is unsure of who her fellow title hopefuls will be this time around and so the mother of two and wife of ‘Dusi Duke’ Martin Dreyer is busy preparing for Sunday’s clash in much the same way as she always does.
“Like any race I go into, I’d certainly love to win again this weekend,” said Dreyer. “I don’t think there is any added pressure on me at all being the defending champ and I’m looking forward to racing at Eston again.”
“At a recent race in Durban – where there was R20000 up for grabs I went in there guns blazing only to break my chain after only 15km – reminded me that you can’t ride to win, you have to ride to enjoy. If you end up winning then that is just a bonus!
“I’m not sure who will be there on Sunday and even if I did, there could always be a few surprises that come out of the woodwork on the day so I’ll just take things as they come on Sunday,” she added.
With a sublime eighth place at the recent UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg and a strong showing towards the tail end of the MTN National MTB Series under her belt, Dreyer has no lack of confidence coming into this year’s race.
“Worlds definitely gave me some really great confidence though and it was only a month ago so I couldn’t ask for a better build up to Eston!” said Dreyer.
“After Worlds I said I wanted to go back to multisport again – where my heart really lies – so I’ve been doing a fair bit of running recently and we’ll see on Sunday just how that has impacted on my cycling.”
Online late entries are open until midnight on Wednesday 30 July as well as at the venue at Eston Club on the day and so Dreyer will have to wait until she arrives on the start line for final confirmation as to who her main challengers will be.
Dreyer can however be certain that Coffeberry/VELOlife’s age group ace Natalie Bergstrom will be hoping to put a spanner in the defending champ’s works and the 41-year-old North Coast rider is looking to get one last positive result under her belt before she jets off to the 2014 UCI MTB Masters World Championships.
Racing in the women’s 40-44 year old category – the same division in which she clinched gold at last year’s global masters showpiece held at Cascades, Pietermaritzburg – Bergstrom is hoping to reign supreme on the international stage once more and a solid performance in Eston will be the ideal way to bring down the curtain on her Worlds preparations.
While Haw’s participation remains hazy, her fellow Time Freight VELOlife teammates Alexandra Mapstone and Frankie du Toit will be riding and undoubtedly hoping their recent good cross country form in the SA MTB Cup Series and at the SA National MTB Champs will aid in their bid to challenge some of their more experienced rivals for a top five finish.
Normal entries for the 2014 Illovo Eston MTB Challenge close at midnight on Sunday 27 July and late entries at midnight on Wednesday 30 July. Entries can be submitted via www.roag.co.za or at Eston Club on the day.
The Illovo Eston MTB Challenge’s 60km Illovo Eston Marathon, 40km aQuellé Half Marathon, 18km Tala/aQuellé Family Ride and the 10km STIHL Kids Ride take place at the Eston Club on Sunday 3 August. More info can be found at www.illovoestonmtb.co.za
Source: Gameplan Media