Pietermaritzburg – With South Africa’s greatest cross country mountain biking depth found in the men’s Under 23 category, one of the highly talented group’s aces, James Reid, will be hoping to further enhance the bunch’s reputation as top international competitors when he goes in search of a top five finish at the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships which take place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August – 1 September.
Despite a rickety and mentally challenging start to 2013, the Trek/Craft rider has developed tremendously from these testing circumstances and believes the mental toughness he has gained in recent times will serve him well during the grueling World Champs challenge.
“I got a tenth at last year’s World Cups overall and I finished the World Cup season off with two top five’s and three top ten’s so I was really happy with how things went for me as far as my results went in 2012’s international season,” said Reid.
“It’s been a little tougher this year though. The Nedbank 360Life team being disbanded and then Burry (Stander)’s death definitely hit me hard and impacted on my racing early on in the year so at times it’s been a bit frustrating not to have got the results I was hoping for this year.
“I think I’ve become a bit stronger mentally because of it though and neither injuries nor sickness have impacted me recently so this, together with me having been working closely with my coach – Jeroen Swart – will see things will go well for me at World Champs in a couple of weeks,” he added.
Having been surrounded by talented youngsters, particularly regular U23 rival Rourke Croeser (Kargo Pro MTB), both in the cross country arena and on the hard-fought local marathon scene, Reid believes has played a vital role in the depth of talent the current South African U23 age group enjoys.
“The racing rivalry that exists between the likes of Rourke (Croeser), Brendon (Davids), Luke (Roberts) and I think has helped all of us a lot.
“Rourke and I, in particular, have grown up racing against each other and I think it has benefited both of us as we’ve pushed each other the whole way for a couple of years now.
“We’ve been to five World Champs together, we both always want to do well and we both like to to do our best in any race we take part in, so I think both of our levels of racing have improved because of the good racing rivalry that we have.
“Having said that though, come World Champs at the end of August, we certainly won’t be out there racing against each other. It will be all about trying to get the better of the international guys.
Reid is relishing the rare opportunity to tackle the pinnacle of the global mountain biking calendar on home soil with the added strain of international strain one less aspect for the local riders to have to get right if they are to be competitive.
“I’m so glad that it’s the rest of the world who will have to sort out all the logistics that go with travelling internationally, deal with a foreign culture and race away from home this time around,” said a passionate Reid.
“It’s not easy to sort out flights, accommodation, etc. and still trying to race at your best possible level so it’s definitely a huge advantage for us local guys to be racing on home turf this year!
Familiar with the course having raced at Cascades MTB Park numerous times previously and spent hours training on the slightly tweaked 2013 course, Reid will be hoping to replicate his UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg feat which saw him claim a remarkable fourth position in the same Under 23 men’s race.
“Last year’s World Cup in Pietermaritzburg was a bit of a trial for this year’s World Champs and I managed to get a fourth there so I’ll definitely look to take a lot of confidence out of that coming into the World Champs this year.
“Europe is the hub of mountain biking in the world though so the standard of competition over there is just incredible and I’m sure almost all of those top international guys will be out here in a couple of weeks’ time, wanting to do well, so it definitely will be really tough.
“It would be an absolute dream come true to get a top five finish in PMB again but given it’s the World Champs and that everyone is almost guaranteed to be here, a top ten is probably a little more realistic.
The UCI MTB & Trials World Championships take place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August – 1 September and are preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from 21 – 25 August 2013. More information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za
Source: Gameplan Media