William Mokgopo claimed the coveted title of Gauteng XCO Champ in what the commentator aptly referred to as a “commanding performance” at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria on Saturday, 13 June 2015.
Mokgopo fought back from last place at the start due to a puncture to take top honours in the Elite Men’s race.
“After getting a flat only 200m from the start line and knowing I couldn’t go back to the tech zone just behind me, it became a mental game and I had to push as hard as I could for the first lap before I could fix it,” Mokgopo explains. “Going into the race, my legs were a bit tired with the change of training and less sleep due to exams, but I was looking forward to testing myself out.”
A BSC Sports Science student at the University of Pretoria, Mokgopo recently started training with their High Performance Centre. “We have been focusing more on my power output, to give my skinny legs a bit of an edge,” he laughs. “Training has been challenging the past few weeks, with my eyes set on the last National Cup and National Champs.”
It has been a packed schedule for the Kargo Pro MTB Team rider in the last two months. In early May he travelled to Rwanda with Team South Africa for the UCI African Continental MTB Championships, where he finished 9th overall.
Mokgopo has also been improving in the marathon discipline. He placed 3rd Senior Men and 6th overall for the 70km race at the first Nissan Trailseeker event in Gauteng. The very next weekend he took on the mammoth Ultra Marathon (111km) of the SA National MTB Marathon Championships at Van Gaalen in Hartebeespoort, and finished 22nd overall and 16th Senior Men. “My legs left the party at the 60km mark, but luckily they came back towards the end” he jokes. “It was the hardest race I’ve done so far this year.”
Up next, Mokgopo is looking forward to the 4th instalment of the SA National XCO Cup Series, taking place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, on 27th June 2015. He placed 12th Elite Men at the last race at Mankele Bike Park in Nelspruit, GP, and is working for a top 10 finish this time around.
Thereafter, he’ll be travelling to Stellenbosch, to take part in the University Sport South Africa (USSA) National Cycling Tournament- competing in both MTB and Road cycling for the University of Pretoria. “Last year I only did the MTB race, so this year will be my first time doing the Tour as well. It will be my first official road race so I’m really excited about the challenge and can’t wait to see how it will unfold.”
The pinnacle of his local racing season will be the SA National MTB XCO Championships, taking place in the Western Cape in July.