Van Gaalen – With the curtain coming down on a glittering career, South Africa’s most decorated mountain biker Kevin Evans has taken a more subdued approach in preparation for the upcoming Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on 6 June in the North West province.
Having raced to a disappointing fourth place at the recent Nedbank sani2c Evans has returned to the Western Cape and is focusing on a couple of the local races in the build up to the national showpiece however it seems that the approach to the event will be different for him in 2015.
“To be honest I have just been focusing on the local events at the moment and not really putting too much emphasis on SA Champs,” the Biogen-Volcan star mentioned. “The SA Champs has been more of a focus for Max (Knox) and if I can help him get across the line first this year then I will be happy with my effort.”
The national marathon title is far from unfamiliar for Evans who has four national championship jerseys in his cabinet but the veteran does not feel that 2015 will be the year to add a fifth to his collection. He has promised he will give the event his best shot even though he does not feel that the conditions in the North West province will be suited to him.
“The course is quite punchy and lacks those long climbs that I am stronger on so I don’t think that it provides me with the ideal chance to win and it seems like it is going to be catered better for guys like Max and the other Cross Country guys.
“It is quite a rough course and I managed to get a third place in a race there last year so realistically I am not going out there and putting pressure on myself to win.
Evans understands the prestige that surrounds being a national champion and knows that the motivation of the other riders is going to be high heading into the event.
“Once you have won the title once people are going to refer to you as an SA Champion. That’s a title that all riders want to their name so it is a huge title to hold and the guys all appreciate that which makes it an even more difficult title to win.
“I think there have only been three of four different winners over the past eleven years which just shows how much people value it and want to hold on to it!
“There will be a number of guys vying for the title this year and with a few guys out of sponsors and that it makes this title even more important because it does add to your brand quite significantly and it ups your value if you are in the market for sponsors,” Evans explained.
With his announcement that he was to retire from professional riding Evans does not see this SA Champs as his last but feels that it is the right time to move on from the elite level of competition and let the younger riders fight it out for the glory.
“I will come back and take part in SA Champs again in the age group categories – my elite racing days are over,” he mentioned adamantly. “I know that I have made the correct decision and I have had a great career and achieved all that I wanted to so it is time for other riders to take up the mantle.
Online pre-entries for the 2015 SA MTB Marathon Champs powered by Stihl – which doubles up as the fourth round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen – are now open and close at 06:00 on Tuesday 2 June 2015. To enter, click here. Late entries will be accepted on the day, with an additional nominal fee of R50. This event is not limited to the championship contenders and is open to the public.