After two consecutive second places, MTN-Energade’s Kevin Evans has set his sights on victory in the third edition of the 85-kilometre Mondi Extreme Challenge mountain bike race in Addo on Sunday, October 31.
“I’ll certainly give it a good bash,” the six-time MTN Series champion said from De Rust after finishing second in the third stage of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek mountain bike tour on Wednesday. “I certainly don’t want to disappoint.”
Evans said the race, the feature event of the Mondi Herald Mountain Bike Challenge and billed as the toughest in the Eastern Cape, would be his last of the season and he was ready to go down fighting to finish it off in style. “It isn’t my major goal or anything, but it’s always nice to win.”
The 32-year-old from Plettenberg Bay lost out in close sprint finishes (to DCM-Chrome’s Brandon Stewart in 2008 and Garmin-adidas’ Philip Buys last year) on both occasions and said he would try his level best to avoid another sprinting lottery. “My aim will be to get away on my own, for sure.”
Evans however expected Stewart, who is also racing in the Pioneer this week, to be a tough opponent. “He should have good legs after the tour. I’m sure our level will be very similar.”
Although he prefers to start conservatively and increase his intensity towards the end, he predicted a fast start. “There are always a few guys willing to make the pace at the beginning – especially if they are focusing on winning one of the primes (sprint after 10km and King of the Mountains at 36km) rather than the overall.”
Evans said a quick start might actually work in his favour as it could serve as a launch pad for an attack of his own later on. “If I’m feeling okay, I might decide to counter at one of the primes.”
He said he still had to study the profile of the new race route before fine-tuning his game plan. “Once I’ve done that, I will have a mental picture of what to do.
“For now, I’m concentrating on the Pioneer. There are still 350 kilometres to go and with a little bit of luck we (with Rwandan team-mate Adrien Niyonshuti) can pull it through.”
Double Olympian Erica Green has won both editions of the women’s race and will be back to defend her title.
According to race director Shane Bradfield the climbs on the new route are “shorter and steeper” and the descents “shorter and sharper” than in previous years, which won’t suit Evans’ style of riding and should see the field bunch up for another exciting finish.
“The riders will be facing changing terrain throughout, with less gravel roads but more jeep and single track than in the past. We wanted to toughen up the race and the route now offers less respite.”
Bradfield said there would be eight water points, marshals, two teams of mountain rescuers and three ambulances on the course as well as a helicopter on standby for emergency evacuations.
Apart from the Extreme Challenge (R180), riders can enter the 60km Herald Challenge (R120) and the 30km Capespan Schools’ Challenge & Family Fun Ride (R60). There will also be a 5km Kiddies’ Challenge and 1km Toddlers’ Dash (both R30).
Online entries close on Monday, October 25, and registration is from noon to 8pm on Saturday, October 30. Prize-money of over R60 000 is up for grabs.
Organisers are offering pre-rides with back-up of all three routes on Sunday, October 24, starting at 7am from the Addo Polo Club (R10 donation). Book your place by sending an e-mail to email@example.com or an SMS to 074 114 4811.
For more information, visit www.leisurecycletours.com.
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