Defending champion HB Kruger has another podium in his sights when he returns to the Knysna Cycle Tour MTB Race on Saturday.
“I was fortunate enough to win last year, so I can’t really do any better than that,” said the BCX rider. “To repeat it this year would be great.”
Kruger, who participated in the race for the first time last year, said he would work with teammate Waylon Woolcock to churn out the best possible result for the team.
“Waylon has also been going really well and I think he stands a great chance of doing well. We’ll obviously help each other out and try get a good result.”
Kruger, who has already won the Great Zuurberg Trek, Winelands MTB Encounter and Paarl MTB Classic this season, said he had been pushing hard to return to form after taking time off to recover from illness.
“I’ve had some good weeks with some long, hard work with big rides. I don’t know if I’ll be as sharp as I want to be, but I definitely won’t give up.”
The Paarl resident said he would use every aspect of the 80km race to his advantage.
“There’s quite a bit of climbing and it’s a slightly longer race, both of which suit me quite well. There are not that many single-track and technical sections, which also play to my strengths.”
The 25-year-old said he looked forward to a fast pace in the dry conditions and anticipated a “tight race and hard battle to get on the top steps of the podium”.
“I know Gert Heyns will be there and he’s in good form, so he’ll definitely be one to watch. If Matthys Beukes is there then he’ll also be one of the stronger ones.”
Kruger will also line up for the 115km road race on Sunday, but admitted the mountain bike event would be his focus.
With a full team lining up for the road race, they would have an abundance of cards to play, he said.
“We’ll be looking at our faster guys like Nolan Hoffman, Reynard Butler and even David Maree, who I think is a bit of a dark horse. Hopefully, between all of us, we’ll be able to get a result for the team.”
Last year Hoffman was runner-up in the road event, won by Stefan Ihlenfeldt.