Team bizhub’s Yolandi du Toit and Lise Olivier will literally go into uncharted territory when they line up for the three-day Subaru sani2c paired mountain bike race in Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal, on Thursday.

The team’s first-choice combination of Du Toit and Ischen Stopforth, the current MTN Series champion, was severed after a crash in training left the latter with a broken collarbone and fractured pelvis and Olivier, a first-year pro with Team bizhub, has been drafted in to fill her place.

“With it being Lise’s first mountain bike stage race, it is difficult to know what to expect,” said Du Toit, who placed third in the mixed category last year. “But I’m confident that what we lack in technical ability, we’ll make up for in endurance.”

Du Toit pointed out that it was a long, tough race and that they were aiming to be in contention on the last day. “Then a podium, or better, is definitely within our reach.”

She said it was important to start off conservatively in order to reach the final day relatively fresh. “One can lose a lot of time on the last day if you’ve killed yourself on the first two.”

By the same token, said the Team bizhub star, the favourites for overall victory would probably show themselves on the tough second day. She said the 96-kilometre stage from Eastwolds to Jollivett – which includes 2 230 metres of climbing – could be made even more challenging by the expected muddy conditions.

“I know it has been raining in the area with more being forecast for Friday, which can make things very interesting. The single-track downhills will be treacherous and crashing is a real possibility.”

Olivier – who studied in the United States on an athletics scholarship before returning to South Africa late last year – said she was both nervous and excited, but looking forward to the challenge.

“It is an opportunity for me to prove myself at the highest level. One may call it on-the-job training,” she joked.

Du Toit expected MTN’s Yolande Speedy and Mariska Strauss to make the running.

“Yolande is in good form and Mariska is improving all the time. Both come from a cross country background and have excellent technical skills.”

Du Toit also felt that Cherise Taylor (Mr Price-Nashua) and her young partner, Caitlin de Wet, would be up for the challenge.

Taylor, the newly-crowned South African road champion, returned from the Tour of New Zealand this week and should be in peak condition once the jet lag has worn off.

The race, which covers a total distance of 249 kilometres with 4 575 metres of elevation, finishes in Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast on Saturday.

Issued by:

Full Stop Communications

Coetzee Gouws
041 368 4992
082 575 7991

On behalf of:

Team bizhub