As the deadline for entries at midnight on 31 July approaches, local organisers have urged all amateur masters competitors across South Africa and throughout the world interested in taking part in iconic event, to ensure they submit their entry urgently in order to avoid missing out.

Entries have already been received from no fewer than 24 countries, with a last minute rush coinciding with the month-end paydays expected to bolster that number even further.

MTB lovers in the veterans and masters age groups have been waiting for a long time to have the world title deciders close to home, as the previous editions were held in Brazil, making the cost of travel unaffordable for many top South African masters riders.

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Cycling South Africa's Mike Bradley has joined local organisers in urging all South African mountain bikers to take advantage of the once in a life time opportunity this year's UCI MTB Masters World Championships presents and ensure they submit their entry before the 31 July 2013 deadline.

Photo: Supplied/Gameplan Media

With the masters and elite world champs having been staged at separate venues and at different times of the calendar in years gone by, this year’s masters competition taking place at the same venue and just days before the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships, is a revolutionary concept for the sport with it also being the first time ever the competitions have ever been staged on African soil.

With the event unlikely to return to South African shores anytime in the near future, South African mountain bikers are urged to take advantage of this golden opportunity to take part in the annual pinnacle of the masters MTB calendar.

“This really is a once in a life time opportunity for South African riders!” said Cycling South Africa’s General Manager, Mike Bradley.

“The vibe at this year’s event will be awesome and there are already many international entries that have been submitted so why not come to Pietermaritzburg and test yourself against international riders of your same age category right here at home?”

As entries continue to stream in, predictably the hosts – South Africa – make up the greatest number with over three hundred and thirty local riders already set to take advantage of the home turf advantage.

One of the first locals to add his name to the list of entries was Kloof stalwart Garth Schonewolf. A former MotoX racer, Schonewolf has now immersed himself into the world of MTB cross country riding and is expected to be right up at the front of his men’s 45-49 year old age group.

“It really is a special opportunity for us local riders,” said Schonewolf. “Any other year it will cost you huge amounts of money to go to the MTB World Champs, whereas now it is right in your own back yard! There was just no way I was going to miss out!”

“Any rider who is passionate about this sport will want to be part of an event of this significance,” he added.

He also said that he expected the standard of racing to be exceptionally high, and that the Cascades MTB park layout would prove to be taxing for all.

“It’s cross country racing and the truth is anything can happen. Someone can be lying fifth and suddenly find themselves in the lead. Things just happen that often.

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Time is ticking! Men's 45-49 cross country title hopeful Garth Schonewolf has encouraged all his fellow South African mountain bikers as well as their international enthusiasts to ensure they get their entry in for the UCI MTB Masters World Championships before the 31 July 2013 deadline.

Photo: Dave Macleod/Gameplan Media

“The Cascades layout will also play it’s part. Your XCO skills will need to be up to scratch,” he added.

Schonewolf said that the pricing of the event may be different to many local races, but added that once riders understood that it was based on an 80 Euros entry fee, they were better able to look at entering especially given the entry for the previous Masters World Championships was 200 Euros per rider.

Preparations are well underway in South Africa’s ‘Cycle City’ ahead of the international showcase, which takes place at Cascades MTB park from 21-25 August, with the event set to break new ground for the sport not only locally but internationally as well.

Outside of Schonewolf and his fellow South African competitors, the African continent will be well represented by riders from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Reunion whilst the influence of the event having been staged in Brazil over the past few years is also well evident with Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela all making up a large South American entry thus far.

Organisers have also received entries from Australia, Austria, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, with this list expected to grow even further over the final few days of the entry process.

With the masters event taking place on an entirely separate route to that of the elite competition, participants will be tested within their range on the World Championships worthy course.

One of the many notable characteristics of the Nick Floros creation is the number of overtaking opportunities each lap of the event offers, further enhancing the potential for all to stake an equal claim for this year’s coveted rainbow striped World Champion jersey and the highly sought-after winner’s gold medal.

Entries can be submitted via http://csams.cycling...ips-xcodhi.aspx and entries close at midnight on 31 July. More information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za/masters

The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013, and will be preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from21 to 25 August.