Defending men’s South African Cross Country champion Rourke Croeser will jet home next week to try and win another national title as well as vital UCI points in his bid to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics at the Stihl SA MTB Championships presented by Subaru Cape Town/Novus Holdings in Stellenbosch on Saturday 18 July. Although Croeser has been happy with the way his European racing has gone this season he has felt slightly frustrated at times with a few issues hampering him at crucial times during the season. Croeser says: ‘It has been a great season for me so far. I have been the best South African performer at the World Cups but I have to prove that I am the best in South Africa. Unfortunately I have had a few mechanical issues at critical points in my season, which have been slight setbacks. With that said one thing that has been proven is that I am a fighter and not much is going to stop me.’
With time running out to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Croeser has emphasised the importance of doing well at the South African Champs in his quest to follow in the footsteps of the great late Burry Stander at the event. The Full Dynamix/USN rider says: ‘SA Champs is crucial if I want to qualify for the Olympics. I have been the best South African performer at the World Cups but I have to prove that I am the best in South Africa. It is going to be really difficult considering that a lot of the other riders have been at home training whereas I only get in late on the week of the event, but Rio is my dream and I know that I have to work really hard to get there! Although I know that Olympic qualification is vital for me I have put a lot of energy into the World Cup season this year and I have been performing well over there so I am confident that I can take that form into SA Champs next week.’
The legacy of the late Burry Stander is still something that Croeser sees as an inspiration for him and harnessing that inspiration is an important element for Croeser. Croeser says: ‘Everyone knew how good Burry was but few understood what he meant for mountain biking in South Africa. He is the reason why I am racing mountain bikes today!’ Having to defend his National Championship title is going to be a tough ask with a number of the locally based riders going really well however Croeser is aware of this and with very little knowledge of the course that they are going to be racing on, understands the enormity of the challenge.
He says: ‘I have never raced in Stellenbosch so it is going to be a completely new experience for me! There is always pressure when you have to defend a national title and I know that the local guys have been in some incredible form of late so that is going to make the task even more difficult! Getting back into the country quite late next week is going to make the preparation harder but I am looking forward to a great race.’ Entries for the event are now open and riders can enter at http://csams.cyclingsa.com/enter-an-event/mtb/2015—mtb-–sa-national-championships-xco–dhi.aspx
. Online pre-entries close on Tuesday 14 July
and late entries will be accepted at registration.
Photo: Rourke Croeser
Photo credit: Andrew McFadden/Gameplan Media