Japanese cyclist Yuki Ikeda will add a strong international flavour to the Liberty TransCape MTB Encounter when he makes his first appearance in the Western Cape event next weekend.
The mountain bike marathon star will partner experienced South African Grant Usher for the 614km race, which starts in Knysna on February 4 and ends in Franschhoek seven days later.
The 38-year-old joins a number of overseas riders who have expressed an interest in the TransCape after it was awarded UCI status.
Making his third trip to South Africa, he is looking forward to renewing his partnership with Usher in the Topeak-Ergon-Sprocket & Jack team.
“I raced with Grant last year in the La Leyenda del Dorada, a seven-stage race in Colombia, and we developed a close friendship,” said Ikeda.
“Our abilities were perfectly matched and we had a blast.
“My friends who have done the race have been telling me only good things about it – a great course, beautiful scenery and good organisation.
Ikeda took to mountain biking when he spent 10 years in the United States. Among his achievements in the US was winning the three-day Breck Epic in Colorado last year.
He said UCI status made the TransCape an attraction for overseas pros like himself.
“My goal this year is to have more podium finishes at an international level and to earn UCI points for myself and Japan.”