Kargo set to realise South African MTB team’s World Cup dream
The local mountain bike community is excited to get a first ever glance of its very own ‘proudly South African’ UCI accredited outfit competing on an international stage when four riders of the Kargo Pro MTB team tackle the UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg, presented by Shimano, at Cascades MTB Park from the 11th to the 13th of April.
The Kargo Pro MTB team became the host country’s first ever UCI accredited team in January this year, and Shaun Peschl’s outfit is excited by its quartet of riders having now earned enough points to compete on home turf in their team’s colours in a few weeks’ time after a strong performance at the UCI category 2 Western Cape Open race on Saturday 8 March.
“We have worked really hard to build a team that is of international standard and that can do South Africa proud both locally and abroad,” explained Peschl.
“Receiving our UCI accreditation a little while ago was such an amazing step for us in our international journey and now to have four riders who have qualified to ride in Kargo colours in Maritzburg in a few weeks’ time is incredible!” he added.
First year elite competitor and team ace Rourke Croeser will now be joined by fellow elite rider Stuart Marais, under-23 XCO returnee Travis Walker and emerging under-23 talent Paul Rodenbach as the four look to impress at Maritzburg’s global showdown.
In 2013 Croeser had hoped for a strong showing in his final charge for an under-23 World Champs podium when Cascades played host to the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships however a broken chain on just meters after the start saw his top three dreams go up in smoke before the contest had even begun in earnest.
Croeser is however looking forward to returning to the track he has spent many hours on in recent years and is hoping for a solid first showing on the international elite men’s stage in Kargo’s colours.
“It’s an exciting time for our Kargo team as we build towards this year’s World Cup in Pietermaritzburg,” said Croeser.
“We know the course at Cascades really well and it’s one that I fell really suits me so I’m looking forward to racing there against the best riders in the world in the near future. It will be great to have the four of us competing in Kargo colours at the World Cup and hopefully we can put in a performance that really excites the South African mountain biking community because this is about them as much as it is about us, the riders,” he added.
Despite Croeser having suffered a nasty crash just days before this past weekend’s Western Cape Open which then forced him to retire from the contest after two brave laps, the team still enjoyed a strong showing against a top class field which included many of the European-based Orange Monkey pro team.
Walker and Rodenbach both put in strong performances with Walker finishing third behind race winner Matthys Beukes (SCOTT Factory Racing) and second place Gert Heyns (ASG Cycling) while Rodenbach finished ninth and, in the process, claimed the all-important two UCI points needed for World Cup qualification.
With many of South Africa’s mountain bike community’s eyes set to be firmly on Kargo’s stars, the pressure will be on the ‘new kids on the block’ however, with home ground advantage and the support of much of the large crowd expected to turn out at Cascades for this year’s World Cup, many are confident Peschl’s men will fly the South African flag high.
The UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, takes place at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 11-13 April 2014. For all the information about the first round of the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup go to www.mtbworldcupsa.co.za.