On your marks, get set, it’s PE Plett
Avid mountain bikers will line up on the Kurland Polo Fields this morning for the start of the rugged Prudential PE Plett stage race starting.
The race, capped to 200 team and solo entries, is expected to be one for the ages as riders battle for honours through to the finish line at Crossways Country Kitchen on Sunday.
Kevin Evans, who will partner Rogan Smart under the Bike Shop/Strocam Mining banner, hopes it will be third time lucky, having missed the last two races due to injury or illness.
“You never really know how the body will react until you move off from the start line,” Evans said.
“The hard part has been done, now it is just a matter of making sure we can execute our race plan effectively and come out on the right side of the result come Sunday.”
Having not done a competitive stage race in a while, Evans said their main aim was to ensure they paced themselves correctly to end the race strongly.
“I’ve entered this race twice, but have never managed to finish.
“The first year I picked up an infection and had to pull out, and a year later I broke my ankle before the start of the race and could not take part.
“The aim this year is to finish the race, first and foremost, and thereafter if we can achieve a podium position that would be a bonus,” Evans said.
It was the picturesque views and beautiful tracks that kept riders coming back for more, Evans said.
“I had a group of seven riders from Arizona who have travelled to SA to do the event, so the race is definitely popular and gaining traction in MTB circles.”
Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal rider Andrew Hill and partner Stuart Marais, racing for team TIB/Wille Honne, have also made their way to Plettenberg Bay.
“The body is feeling as good as it can be,” Hill said.
“This is the first big race of the season, so we will be going into a bit of an unknown in a sense that we cannot predict how the body will react to four days of competitive racing,” Hill said.
“Generally you try to get a good start and then ideally end the four-day event off with a good result.
“You test the waters in stage one and that is usually a good marker for how the rest of the race will go.
“If that doesn’t work, we will naturally look to plan B or C, as it always has something to fall back on if plan A does not materialise,” he said.
Hill said both he and Marais had put in good work leading up to the race, with both getting some regular training rides together.
“Having finished in second place in the race in 2017, we will certainly be looking to go one better this year,” he said.
“Obviously we can never dictate what can happen on race day, but we will work hard over the four days.”
Asked if and how conditions could affect the race, Hill said: “There is some rain expected on the first day, which would make the trails quite wet, but we need to make sure we prepare as best as we can for any race situation we might encounter.”
The event will starts at Kurland on day one.
Day two will see riders depart from Tsitsikamma and end in Suiderland to reach the halfway point.
On day three they will make their way to the Zuurbron village for their second-last stop.
The final day will sees riders leave Zuurbron on their last 75km ride to Crossways for the finish.