Pietermaritzburg – Cascades MTB Park’s downhill course designer Nigel Hicks might have sprung a few subtle surprises on the downhill competitors for the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, after all the riders had the opportunity to have a look at the layout during their course walk on Tuesday afternoon and hometown rider Tim Bentley and Australian, former winner in Pietermaritzburg, Tracey Hannah are looking forward to the challenge that awaits on Saturday.
Bentley, who has been riding the Cascades MTB Park downhill course for as long as he can remember, has been a little surprised by the changes that have been made by Hicks but is looking forward to the chance to ride against the best in the world.
“It is super cool to have the guys over and to see all the fast guys down here so they can also see what we can do,” he said excitedly. “The layout of the track hasn’t changed too much, he has put in quite a few more rocks with most of the changes at the top with two bigger rock gardens that he has put in at the top to try and make it a little more tricky for the guys who said they are going to arrive on trail bikes.”
The course has been very similar in recent times and Bentley is glad that there has been the change which seems to be a way of getting the riders away from what they have become familiar with and give them a bit of a shock come race day.
“I don’t think he (Nigel Hicks) was too stoked with guys saying that they were going to be on trail bikes so he wanted to give them a bit of a surprise and make things a bit more interesting and a bit more tiring and more physical on the upper body at the top.
“On the trail bike it could be really tricky at the top because we haven’t had rain in a while so if it gets loose it is going to be tough but they will definitely have an advantage on the peddle so it is a bit of a 50/50 situation,” Bentley mentioned cautiously.
Having the opportunity to race against the best downhill riders again this year is something that Bentley is excited about and is relishing the chance to race with a long-time hero – Greg Minnaar.
“I haven’t thought about it (goals and expectations) but a top 30 would be nice. I have been a bit busy with studying at the moment so I haven’t had much time to train so I’m just happy to come and ride and see all the guys again.
“I’ve been watching Greg (Minnaar) on the TV since I could start walking and so to be riding with him is like a dream come true,” mentioned an excited Bentley.
For the former Pietermaritzburg World Cup winner Tracey Hannah it was also a surprise at the difference in the course from the one that was raced at the World Championships some seven months prior.
“It’s really cool to see that the course has changed so much and to see that they have put some extra rock gardens in so I’m really excited!” The Hutchinson UR star said. “They have done a lot of work building man-made rock gardens and changing some of the turns and stuff so I think it has changed quite a bit but it still goes from the top to the bottom so that hasn’t changed much!” she joked.
Having battled with injuries for a number of seasons the goal for the weekend and for the season is simple: “I’m just going for a consistent race more than anything and I think my goal this season is to get through the season without injury so I’m not going to go and kill myself for the win but I’m still going to give it my best shot,” Hannah concluded.
The UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, takes place at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 11-13 April 2014. More information can be found at www.mtbworldcupsa.co.za
Source: Gameplan Media