One of the perennial pacesetters of the KwaZulu-Natal mountain bike elite racing scene Andrew Hill, will set his sights on the elusive Illovo Eston MTB Challenge title this weekend, a title that somehow has eluded him over the years.
Hill has won almost every elite race on the local calendar, and comes into the race after a solid season that includes a good win at the recent Sappi Scottburgh MTB Race and some strong stage race finishes throughout the year.
Lady luck dealt the on-form TIB Insurance rider a card from the bottom of the pack at last year’s Illovo Eston race, as Hill was right in the mix with Jessop and eventual winner Stuart Marais.
The front pack took an accidental detour off the marked race route, and they all doubled back together when they realised their mistake, only for Hill to fall off the front bunch when he picked up a puncture while returning to the race route.
Despite coming up against younger riders, Hill continues to fight it out with the best and to add the Eston MTB Challenge to his impressive lists of achievement will be high on his priority list.
“It is a big race. It has always been a big race” said Hill. “Stuart Marais will be wanting to win that again and Julian (Jessop) will be hard to beat as well.
“It is longer than a usual weekend race at sixty kilometres, which actually plays into the hands of myself and the other marathon riders.
“If the cross country riders can just hang on, and have the punch to hurt us at the end, it will be interesting,” he said.
Hill pointed out that the 60km layout was a mix of terrain, which made race strategy very important.
“There are flat sections that suit the power riders, and then you have some big climbs. The you are into forest and plantations and track through the gumtrees, so there is a bit of everything,” said Hill.
“If I can finally walk away with a win there it will be unbelievable,” he concluded.
Despite winning in Scottburgh, Hill is out of the running for the Quattro ROAG Series as he will not have raced in enough races throughout the year. However Julian Jessop is leading the series and has the chance to extend his lead this weekend which could make the title challenge even more difficult for Hill.
More information can be found at www.illovoestonmtb.co.za