Scottburgh – Men’s defending champion Evan van der Spuy will have to be on top of his game if he is to become the first ever rider to successfully defend his Scottburgh MTB Race presented by Sappi title when this year’s South Coast clash takes place on Sunday 31 August.
Having previously been staged in June and coinciding with the winter solstice, Van der Spuy is all too aware that conditions could be significantly different in 2014 with the race taking place some 10 weeks later.
The young talent is however confident that he can adapt to the different conditions when the race gets underway on the last official day of winter.
“We are heading into spring so things could be very different this time around,” the Varsity College rider said.
“There is a chance that it could be a little bit wetter and windier this time around which will make the race pretty interesting I’m sure.”
The Margate resident has had a busy 2014 off the bike with his studies taking up the majority of his time, giving him precious little time to train and he explains how this has influenced the way he is looking to approach this year’s Scottburgh clash.
“I have been working really hard this year at university so I am not putting any pressure on myself for the race – if I can just get a top five I will be happy!
“The ‘favourite’ tag is not something that I have thought about at all and I won’t be too worried about that when I start the race. I am going out there to ride hard and if I do well then that will be a bonus.
“With my studies I haven’t been able to ride around here [the South Coast] as much as I would have liked even though there are some really awesome trails down here. I know the region well though so I am not too concerned about that side of my preparation too much,” a relaxed Van der Spuy added.
There are minimal changes to the course for the 2014 edition of the Scottburgh MTB Race and having held off the challenge of Lee Penderis last year, Van der Spuy feels that the course does play into his hands well.
“There is a climb at the beginning of the race that is tough but it suits the cross country riders and that is where my background is.
“Although the climb will be beneficial for me, I am really looking forward to the descent after it!” van der Spuy chuckled.
“There is a climb towards the end where I managed to hold of Lee [Penderis] last year and I’m sure that will be a factor again this year.
“The course is quite technical and I think with my cross country background, this will suit me. It is going to be very similar this year to last with some good single track so I’m sure it will be a lot of fun!”
Van der Spuy is unsure of who else will join him on this year’s start line and is recognises his nearest threat may well come from out-of-town.
The 20 year-old is however familiar with his nearest local rivals and despite talking down his chances, still sees the event as one where there is plenty of coastal pride on the line.
“For the locals the race is definitely for bragging rights!” he said light-heartedly.
“There are always different threats and always guys who can come and win the race from around here but we all know each other well in these parts so the biggest threat will be someone coming from Maritzburg or Durban.”
Entries for the 2014 Scottburgh MTB Race presented by Sappi are open and can be submitted via www.roag.co.za for the 10km Fun Ride, 28km Intermediate event as well as the 45km Classic.
Editor’s note: Van der Spuy in October 2011 became an overnight international sensation after a video of him being blindsided by a charging red hartebeest during the Time Freight Express at Albert Falls dam outside Pietermaritzburg was posted on YouTube.
The video (below) earned Van der Spuy the nickname Buck Norris and has over 15 million views.