Eston – With over 1500 entries for the wide variety of mountain biking and trail running events at the 2017 Illovo Eston MTB Challenge on Sunday, 6 August having flooded in, arguably the most talked-about entry was that of defending ladies champion Cherie Redecker for the 60km MTB showdown.
This year’s Illovo Eston MTB Challenge will once again host a plethora of talent across both the men’s and women’s 60km Marathon races. The ladies race will be of particular interest as a handful of up and coming stars try to chase down Redecker.
Redecker, who relocated to Germany this year, finished second at the recent South African XCO Championships behind Mariska Strauss and will be a tough nut to crack at the Eston MTB Challenge this weekend.
Despite Redecker’s pedigree there will be a number of other ladies who will be hoping to snatch a victory over the explosive 60km course with the likes of Red Bull’s Bianca Haw making a positive return to racing following a bout of glandular fever.
Haw recently finished second at the SA XCO Championships in the Under 23 category which has qualified her for a trip to Australia for the World Championships next month.
Young Tiffany Keep will be another rider with her eyes set of a maiden Eston victory. The Thomas More student won the Junior Girls title at the SA XCO Championships and has been in solid form throughout the year.
From a Quattro ROAG Series perspective, Natalie Bergstrom has been the lady to catch and with such a strong field lining up, the veteran will have her work cut out for her as she looks to wrap up another overall series title.
Also on the start line this weekend will be the South Coast duo of Candice Parker-Dennison and Hayley Smith. The duo are always strong podium contenders at all races that take part in and will be ready to pounce should there be any lapses of concentration ahead of them.
The men’s race will be just as tight and despite the names of the entry list historically a number of top riders have entered on the day.
This year will see an interesting showdown with a number of riders putting their hands up hoping for a maiden Illovo Eston MTB title.
Young Under 23 star Julian Jessop, who has recently signed for the PYGA Euro Steel MTB Team, has been in fine form with a SA XCO Under 23 title to his name. The Durban-based flyer will be hoping to step into the Eston winners circle for the first time this weekend.
Team TIB’s Andrew Hill is always a rider to watch and despite the race not catering entirely to his long distance strengths his experience will always be something to consider a threat when he heads out on the 60km marathon route.
Current Quattro ROAG Series leader Stuart Marais will also be a rider to be wary of. Marais’ form throughout the series has been of the highest quality; however the field at Eston will be tougher than any of the other series races.
As is always the case Martin Dreyer’s Change a Life Academy will have a strong presence at the 60km marathon with stand-out performer Stembiso Masango leading the charge.
Masango, who was selected for the South African MTB Marathon team recently, doubled up with selection for the South African XCO team for the World Championships Down Under next month.
Also on the men’s entry list was Tyronne White. White recently completed a ban for testing positive for a banned substance at the 2016 Old Mutual joBerg2c and will be looking forward to getting into the competitive groove once again.
The event this year has incorporated trail running for the first time with runners having the opportunity to run through the famous Tala Collection Private Game Reserve on either an 18km or 9km run.
The event will also offer riders of all abilities the opportunity to get out and enjoy a winter morning in the Eston area with the aQuellé 40km Half Marathon, the ever-popular STIHL Tala Family Ride and for the little ones, the Omnia Kids Ride.
More information can be found at www.illovoestonmtb.co.za