The third round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series this year plays host to the 2016 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Clarens – from 16-17 April. Defending Elite Men’s Champion, Gawie Combrinck will be back and is ready to give it a full go and retain his National Title. Combrinck, who recently completed the Absa Cape Epic with NAD Pro MTB teammate Nico Bell, will be traveling to the Free State to take on the scenic mountains and tackle the tough terrain. When asked about how he felt about going into the National Championship as the defending Champion, Combrinck says: ‘It is one of my goals for the year. Between Nico and myself, we would like to keep it in the team.’
The 30-year-old rider mentioned that racing in Clarens is not easy, saying: ‘It is hard racing. At this elevation the air is thin and you have to judge your efforts. It is quite spectacular racing over the huge granite rocks and unique terrain. Unfortunately we don’t get to enjoy the scenery that much.’ Combrinck has not always specialised in mountain-biking however, having been a road cycling competitor with Team Bonitas until he met Bell in 2012. He says: ‘From then on I’ve just fallen in love with MTB racing.’
Having a successful racing season last year, Combrink said that this season’s goals include Marathon Champs, The Ashburton Investments Series and larger stage races like the Absa Cape Epic, Old Mutual joBerg2c; sani2c, the Cape Pioneer Trek and Wines to Whales. While the 2016 SA National MTB Marathon Championships is targeted at the Elite Men (Ultra Marathon) Elite Women (Marathon) and Junior and Youth Men and Women (Half Marathon) for National Championship status, the race event is the third round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series, which caters for all age groups and fitness abilities. Not only does the picturesque Free State village boast exquisitely breath-taking mountain views, but also offers a range of activities such as golf, horse riding and hiking, a selection of coffee shops, cafes, art galleries and pubs.
The event also offers child minding facilities, hospitality, bike wash and complete medical centre with a doctor on site. For more information and to enter, visit: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-
Photo credit: JB Badenhorst