With the Olympics little more than 3 months away, PE will be host to a truly monumental race on Saturday, 14 May. A race that will be the final deciding factor for riders like James Reid (Team Spur) and Alan Hatherly (Kargo Pro MTB) who are aiming for a spot in this year’s Olympic Team.

This past weekend saw mostly local riders take part in a pre-race in preparation for the final MTB Cross Country (XCO) National event taking place on 14 May in Settlers Park Nature Reserve in PE. This is the final selection event SASCOC is using before announcing the SA Olympic MTB Team on 24 May. Local event organisers, Red Cherry Adventures, used the race to make sure everything is running smoothly before South Africa’s fastest mountain bikers arrive in a week’s time. And for James Reid, one of the favourites to be chosen for the Olympic Team, it was a race were he hoped to gain an edge over his competition in preparation for this final Olympic qualifier.

James Reid - EC XCO Provincial - Olympic Qualifier
James Reid taking on the course in Settlers Park. Photo credit: Andre Hugo

“I’m apprehensive of jumping to any conclusions” said Reid, “but it will mean a huge amount to represent the country in Rio, and I’m excited to have a good shot at trying to make the team this coming weekend!”. Reid has had a tough season building up to qualify for Olympics. He was unable to finish the previous Olympic qualifier event in Pietermaritzburg due to a mechanical problem so his chance to be part of the Olympic team “hangs in a balance”, he noted.   Reid along with the other race favourites Alan Hatherly and former Olympian, Phillip Buys, will give it their all out on the 4.2km course designed with riders and spectators in mind. “It’s got something for everyone”, said Reid after the pre-race. “There’s a mixture of terrain, different speeds and some challenging elements thrown in to keep things interesting. I think it’s a complete course that suits the more explosive riders”.

Spectators are in for some great fun!

“I’ve had great experiences racing in PE”, Reid said. “I think XC courses in and near the city are the way of the future to get more people into watching XC – being only 2.5kms from the airport makes racing accessible”

Alan Hatherly and PE born and bread, Marco Joubert, both from The Kargo Pro MTB Team, weren’t able to compete in the pre-race. However, since their arrival in PE on Sunday they’ve been out on the course and word is they have found some impressive racing lines that will make for exciting spectating!

East Cape MTB XCO - Olympic Qualifier
Some of the scenes spectators can look forward to on 14 May. Photo credit: Andre Hugo

Racing will take place on 14 May from 08:00 – 16:00 with the start and finish area being at the Settlers Park Primary School. The Olympic Qualifying races are at 10:00 (Elite Woman) and 14:00 (Elite Men). The event also forms part of the UCI Junior World Series with Juniors riding at 10:02 (Junior Woman) and 13:00 (Junior Men).

For more information about the upcoming race you can go to www.xconationalpe.co.za as well as follow EASTCAPEMTB.co.za on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out our course review here.