In-form DCM team-mates Max Knox and Brandon Stewart are set to face off on “neutral” territory in this Saturday’s 85km Extreme Challenge at Addo just outside Port Elizabeth.
The mountain biking duo will aim to continue their impressive early-season form in the race that will form part of the annual The Herald VW Cycle Tour in the Friendly City for a seventh time.
“When we race in the Lowveld where Max lives, I usually try to help him – and vice versa in KwaZulu-Natal,” said Stewart, who is based in Hilton just outside Pietermaritzburg.
“So, ultimately, the Eastern Cape is neutral ground and it doesn’t make any difference which one of us goes for the win. It is all about exposure for the team.
“We’ll play the team game and see how everything pans out on the day.”
Stewart said they both had good form following Knox’s third victory and his fourth place after technical difficulties in the MTN Barberton marathon on Saturday.
Two weeks ago, they were fourth and sixth respectively at the MTN Attakwas in the Southern Cape.
It will be both riders’ first dab at the Extreme Challenge after a one-two finish in the 65km Challenge two years ago.
However, Stewart – who was runner-up at the Mondi behind 360Life’s Kevin Evans in October – said he knew what terrain to expect.
“Much of the route is on the same roads – it’s kind of flat in the beginning before you get to the long climb over the mountain.
“Then there is some valley riding and single-track before you hit the last flat stretch, which is more relentless than difficult.”
The 29-year-old singled out four-time Xterra world champion Conrad Stoltz as one to watch. “Conrad is good on the technical stuff and I expect him to be very strong in the early and latter parts of the race.”
Stewart said the Extreme Challenge was only one part of their coastal mission. “We’re also here to support the DCM road team in Sunday’s race.”
He said they had entered a “very strong” outfit that included riders like Ian McLeod, Darren Lill, Herman Fouche (who is making his return after suspension) and former U/23 national champion Clinton Barrow, who grew up in PE.
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DCM’s Brandon Stewart will take part in the 85km Extreme Challenge mountain bike race in Addo on Saturday before assisting the road team in the 105km The Herald VW Cycle Tour in PE on Sunday. Photo: Zoon Cronje
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