Howick – Mountain bikers from across the country will be racing the 60km race at the Sappi Karkloof Classic festival in under a month’s time in an effort to secure qualification for the new Rainbow Challenge final that will precede the MTB Marathon World Championships in June.
The three day Sappi Karkloof MTB Festival is the biggest event of its kind on the national calendar and draws MTB enthusiasts to the wide range of events, including a night race, an enduro race, and short easy accessible races aimed at less experienced riders.
It is the long 60km marathon event that has secured qualifier status of the Rainbow Challenge final on 28 June, and riders simply need to finish the race to secure a place on the startline on the day before the elite world title decider in Pietermaritzburg.
The Rainbow Challenge was designed around the success of the MTB Masters cross country world championships held in the days preceding the MTB World Champs at the cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg last year.
With the venue having scooped the rights to host the MTB Marathon worlds in June 2014, the organisers, together with Cycling South Africa decided to stage a marathon equivalent that would give veteran and masters riders a chance to compete over the same course that will decide the elite world marathon titles.
The South African MTB scene is heavily skewed towards marathon events rather than traditional cross country events, so a strong turnout is anticipated from the veteran and masters riders.
Qualifying events have already been held in the Western Cape (Cape Argus Pick n Pay MTB Challenge), Mpumalanga (Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge), and in Gauteng (Cradle Mountain Trophy).
With the Sappi Karkloof MTB Festival 60km marathon event forming the fourth and final qualifier, local veteran and masters riders will be joined by the peers from around the country to secure their qualification for the Rainbow Challenge final by completing the race through the Karkloof plantations on Sunday 11 May.
“We are excited to have secured qualifier status at major events in the major regions of the country to satisfy the interest in qualifying for the new Rainbow Challenge final,” said marathon world champs organiser Alec Lenferna.
“With the Sappi Karkloof MTB Festival marathon event being one of the biggest of its kind, it was an ideal event to have as a final qualifier.
“There has been substantial interest in taking part in the Rainbow Challenge from MTB riders around the country, and for riders that weren’t able to get to the other three qualifying events in the Western Cape, Mpumalnaga and the Gauteng qualifier last weekend, the Sappi Karkloof event is the event they will have to ride.
“The 60km Sappi Karkloof race is the ideal qualifier as it will be very similar in character to the course that will be used for the Rainbow Challenge final and the marathon worlds, so not only will riders be able to get their qualifier under their belts but it will also be perfect training for them at the same time,” Lenferna said.
The Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival takes place from 9-11 May at Karkloof Country Club. Riders and spectators can follow news and developments via the event’s Facebook page (Karkloof Mountain Bike Club) or on Twitter (@KarkloofMTB). More information can also be found at www.karkloofmtb.co.za. More information about the Rainbow Challenge can be found at www.rainbowchallenge.co.za
Source: Gameplan Media