Gawie Combrick is set for a fast-paced battle at the fifth round of the National MTB Series at Van Gaalen near Skeerpoort in the North-West Province on Saturday.
Combrinck said the format of this year’s series – which included one and two-stage events – meant every outing required riders to give it their all. He added that although just one day of racing at Van Gaalen made things easier, the pace was bound to be fast and furious.
“It’s still going to be flat-out because instead of having two chances of winning, everyone now only has one,” he said.
The NAD Pro MTB rider is second in the standings behind teammate Nico Bell. Max Knox, who will not be in action this weekend, is in third with Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes completing the top five.
Combrinck said that with the in-form Buys and Beukes at the start, it was bound to be “fast from the gun”.
The field will face six climbs over the 68km for a total of 1 103m of climbing and Combrinck, who has a strong track record at Van Gaalen, said he expected a rough and technical course.
The 31-year-old won the SA National Marathon Championships there two years ago as well as a Trailseeker Series event.
“It’s is quite technical, rough and rocky so anything can happen. I think the most important thing will be to get through without having any mechanicals,” he said.
“It’s going to come down to a bit of luck but you’ll also have to have the legs to win the race.”
He said despite it being a solo event, having a teammate present provided a distinct advantage.
“I won SA’s here and I was actually trying to help my teammate then. Everyone was watching him and that allowed me the opportunity to ride away.
“If you have a teammate, it opens up a few more tactical advantages. Or, if the stronger guy has a bad mechanical, you can help each other out.”
Robyn de Groot leads the women’s standings after strong performances throughout the series. With two events left after this weekend, Sarah Hill, Amy McDougall, Janice Venter and Julia Kotze complete the top five.