For the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge win, Gaze out-sprinted his Specailized Factory Racing teammate Howard Grotts (who would later win the 2018 ABSA Cape Epic with Jaroslav Kulhavý) and Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon–Circus) who had a stellar season on the 2018 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup to finish second overall. The rest of the top 10 included the likes of Florian Vogel, as well as South Africa’s Matthys Beukes and Phil Buys (Pyga-Euro Steel) and Gert Heyns from Team DSV.
The likes of Gaze and Simon Andreassen – who will be riding the Absa Cape Epic with Christoph Sauser for Investec-songo-Specialized in support of Grotts and Kulhavý – will be on the start line again come 2 March. So too will be our own Alan Hatherly, who, among a list of other accolades, won the U23 UCI XCO World Championship in 2018.
“I’ve never actually managed to make it down for the MTB Challenge or the Cycle Tour for that matter,” Hatherly said. “The timing has just never worked out for me to do it previously so am quite stoked to do it. Watching Sam win last year was quite awesome, so I’m really excited to be out there and in the mix.”
In the women’s race, the racing promises to be just as competitive with a whole host of big names lining up as a final shakedown ahead of the Absa Cape Epic.
Three-time defending champion Jennie Stenerhag will be back. She crashed during her dominant performance last year which unfortunately put her on the sidelines for much of last season. She is now back to full fitness and hungry to defend her title. She will have her work cut out for her on the day, watch out for Kate Slegrova, Hayley Preen, Yolandi du Toit and Mariske Strauss to take the racing to her.
The Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge is of course not only for the top pros however and offers something for every skill and fitness levels. In 2019 it will once again feature three routes – 20km, 40km and 60km – each specially-designed by Dirtopia’s trail-building expert, Meurant Botha.
Stay in touch with the latest developments of the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge by liking the Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/cycletour and follow the racing live on Twitter: @TheMTBChallenge.