Durban mountain biking pro Andrew Hill is looking forward to a fresh challenge when he competes for the first time in the Liberty Winelands Encounter in the Western Cape next weekend.
Riding for TIB Insurance-Momsen Valley Light, the experienced rider from Hillcrest will team up for the first time with Marco Joubert in the three-stage event in the Cape Winelands, which starts in Stellenbosch on April 21.
Hill, who won the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek in Addo last year, said he had heard good reports about the Winelands Encounter, and he was at the stage of his career when he wanted to experience different events.
“Although this will be my first Winelands Encounter, I have ridden a lot in the Western Cape so I’m pretty familiar with the type of terrain,” the 35-year-old said.
“We know there will be a mixture of the known and the unknown, but are ready for that.
“In the Cape there are always steep climbs and sharp descents, plus plenty of single-track.”
Hill said he felt his partnership with Joubert would be a good one and that they were definitely aiming for a spot on the podium.
“Marco, who is based in Cape Town, spent a few months in Natal and we decided to get together for some races,” he said. “We will also be competing in the Great Zuurberg Trek next month.
“Although we will be racing together for the first time, I don’t think that will be an issue.
“We are both professional and know the job we have to do so it’s all about getting out there and producing the goods. I know how Marco rides and performs under pressure and am confident we can gel quite easily.”
Hill said Joubert was particularly skilful in technical areas and that they would be aiming to capitalise on that to put pressure on their rivals.
He acknowledged, however, that the competition would be strong and they were expecting “a good dice”.
Chris Wolhuter, who won last year with Craig Boyes, will be back do defend his title, this time with Dylan Rebello, while Hill said Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger would also be strong contenders.
“I know they have just come off the Cape Epic so I am not quite sure what their legs will be like,” he said.
“But they are top competitors and Waylon and HB are riding very well so the competition will be tough.”
Hill said he was happy with the first part of his season, which included winning The Herald Cycle Tour mountain bike race ahead of Joubert.
“It’s been a good year so far and as stage racing is one of my strengths, I am looking forward to this opportunity.”
From Stellenbosch, the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, will take riders through Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington.
Go to www.winelandsencounter.co.za for more info.