Kevin Evans (MTN-Energade) already ensured that he is this year’s overall winner of the MTN-series when he was the first to race across the line in last month’s MTN Cullinan ultra-marathon.
This weekend he will be swapping his mountain bike for a road bike to see if he can win the four day Clover Lowveld Tour.
David George (SAFindit) who has shown awesome form over the past weekend finishing second in the Hill2Hill Classic is also not going to compete.
“The only race I am involved in at the moment is the race to get my wife and myself to the Seychelles for a well deserved holiday. My season is finished.”
Burry Stander (Specialized/MR Price) whose hobby at the moment seems to be winning medals at UCI World Championship races is still on holiday.
That basically leaves Max Knox and Brandon Stewart (both DCM) with Mannie Heymans, Marc Bassingthwaighte, Philip Buys and Francois Theron (all Garmin-adidas) to battle it out for the victory.
Knox and Stewart triumphed in the proverbial first round in the battle between the two teams when this last weekend Knox won the Hill2Hill and Stewart finished third.
Bassingthwaighte was fourth and Buys fifth.
The last time Knox and Stewart competed in the MTN 50 Miler was two years ago. Stewart won the 2008 race with Knox finishing second.
Despite their success they are not prepared to make any victory speeches beforehand.
“We are not going to tempt fate by being over confident because in mountain biking nothing is certain until you cross the line. I also don’t think that our success at the Hill2Hill will count for anything on Sunday. It is two completely different races. The MTN 50 Miler is much more technical,” Knox said.
Stewart agrees with his teammate.
“The MTN 50 Miler’s is quite challenging because when you are not racing uphill you are going down. Most of the racing is on challenging single track sections. That means you have to stay focused the whole time because one mistake could cost you the race.
“I can’t speak for Max but I might start the race slightly conservatively riding at my own pace and first see how things play out.
“If I have good legs I might attack on one of the steeper climbs about 40 kilometers into the race. It is about four kilometers long. There is a chance that the rider who gets to the top first could stay away until the finish.”
Garmin-adidas will be bringing their “secret weapon”, Mannie Heymans, to the race. It has been nearly five months since “Mr African” competed in a local race. For the past few months he has been in Europe where he has managed to get quite a few good results.
Bassingthwaighte has been like a “time bomb just waiting to explode.” Judging by his performance at the Hill2Hill Sunday might be his day for fireworks.
If Ben-Melt Swanepoel (Specialized/MR Price) is fit and healthy he will definitely also be a rider to watch.