Defending champion Andrew Hill is aiming to use his knowledge of the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek to good effect in the three-stage mountain bike race this weekend.
After winning with Adriaan Louw last year, the Durban-based professional will join forces with Marco Joubert this time for the race which takes place at the Zuurberg Mountain Village, just outside Port Elizabeth, from Friday.
Hill said they would focus on how to manage their efforts, especially on the sections which would test the riders.
“The Zuurberg Pass will be the biggest challenge and, having ridden it a number of times, we’ll both know where we can push or where we can save energy,” he said.
He added that the amount of single-track and the difficulty of the queen stage meant you had to be up for the challenge.
“It is quite demanding on the body from a racing perspective. There is a lot of single-track and the queen stage on the second day has developed into a long, decisive stage.
“We’ll rely on this to try to make time and put pressure on the other teams.”
Riding for TIB Insurance-Momsen Valley Light, Hill said he knew they would face tough opposition in their title bid.
BCX’s Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger, winners of last month’s Winelands Encounter, will be among the favoured teams. Kruger confirmed his form when he took the Paarl MTB Classic last weekend.
“Waylon and HB will definitely be a tough team to crack, but we’ll be up to the task and fighting for every minute on the results sheet,” said Hill.
Hill said the GZT had become a favourite race on his calendar.
“Having raced it for the last three years I have marked it as definite return event,” he said.
“I love the vibe and the race village festivities, while the variety of terrain makes it a special experience.”
He said the organisers always delivered a boutique mountain biking experience.
“It’s really world-class, progressing to a new level each year. It’s vastly different to any race I’ve been to and that’s why I love it.”