A strong international contingent will compete for top honours at the African Continental Mountain Bike Championships, in Durbanville, Cape Town, from Saturday.
The lineup includes riders from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia and Mauritius, and a competitive team from hosts South Africa.
South Africa will have at least 30 participants each in the men’s junior, under-23 and youth classes. The junior women’s group is the largest to date, at 15 riders.
On Saturday, 209 South African riders will compete in the XCO.
Max Knox and Kevin Evans line up with the Elite men for fast and furious short-course racing on a revamped track at the Willowbridge shopping centre.
Local Mariske Strauss has set herself a high target in her first year as an Elite.
“I am super excited about the race, but being in a new class I am just taking it as it comes,” she said.
“My coach Jeroen [Swart] is a great mentor. The track has a few more new jumps this year, and the technical standard has certainly been lifted in preparation for a technical World Championship track later this year in Norway.”
The junior women start at 11am, followed by elite women (12.30pm), under-23 women (12.35pm), junior men (2pm), elite men (3.15pm) and under-23 men (3.20pm).
On Sunday, the downhill competitors race their final runs in a contest for the African Championship title at Contermanskloof, on the outskirts of Durbanville.