Andrew McLean (far right) will be out to make amends for his double silver haul at the 2012 UWCT Final in Pietermaritzburg when he tackles the UCI MTB Masters World Championships at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 21-25 August. Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media
“I will certainly be out there competing in my age group in August. I’m at the end of my age category which is a slight disadvantage however that certainly won’t stop me from going out there and giving it my all!” said McLean, a seasoned rider and popular television presenter.
McLean is driven by a burning desire to right the record books of last year’s UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) Final in Pietermaritzburg where he had to settle silver in both the time trial and road race.
“There definitely is a little bit of added motivation after finishing second in both races of the UWCT Final last year. This, together with the fact that I have never won a world title on home soil previously, will definitely be a driving force for me on the day!
“Having come from more of a road background it would also be a huge coup if I was able to claim an off-road title, so it really will be a very special occasion,” said McLean.
McLean has taken part in events around the world and very few others can appreciate the opportunity this year’s spectacle presents local riders better than him.
“An opportunity like this, where one is able to compete in the most prestigious international event as a masters rider, usually only comes around once in a lifetime so I, along with the rest of the South African cycling community, really am incredibly lucky to be able to do so twice.
“The fact that these chances have come around in back to back years is just remarkable and I’m very certain that the next time an event of this calibre comes to South Africa I won’t even be cycling anymore so to take part in these events on home soil really is a fantastic opportunity.
“It is also a feather in Alec Lenferna’s cap. He has played a major role in bringing these events to our country and giving us the phenomenal opportunities. Sometimes I think many don’t quite realise exactly what goes into securing and then running these events, nor what an incredible opportunity these events really are.
McLean also believes events of the size and stature of this year’s UCI MTB & Trials World Championships, which take place immediately after the masters showpiece, not only aid the whole sport of cycling in South Africa through the hype and excitement created in the build up to and during the event itself, but long after the final race has been completed and champion crowned as well.
“You only have to look at the numbers enrolling in cycling events each weekend across the country to see just how much of an impact these top international events have played on our local cycling scene.
“I’d say numbers are probably ten times what they were a couple of years ago and that can only be healthy for cycling as a whole, and especially for mountain biking, in South Africa.
“There is still quite a large void between those taking part in fun rides and those competing on the international stage which hopefully through more and more of these types of top international events, can be reduced and more of our local riders start taking on the bigger events.
“We also have thousands of marathoners taking part in marathon events every weekend throughout South Africa but cross country hasn’t enjoyed the support that it deserves in South Africa. Hopefully events like these world champs can really help grow the cross country industry locally too.
With his name a certainty to appear on the start list of the masters event, McLean also encouraged the rest of the South African cycling community to do the same and support the event as best they possibly can.
“The average Joes who take part in the various marathon events each weekend or head to their local bike park or preferred trail socially also need to play their part come August.
“To be able to head to Pietermaritzburg and not only watch the best riders in the world from the sidelines, but actually compete in the masters event yourself as well, is just such a fantastic opportunity!
“If you're not riding, which I really encourage as many people as possible to do, then you need to make your way to Pietermaritzburg and not only come and support our own local riders in the masters competition but also watch the cream of the crop in mountain biking around the world during the elite event!
“There is no point in hearing about the event afterwards and have others say to you ‘You should have been at Cascades!’ because this kind of an opportunity won’t be here again next year or for a long time after that!
The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at The Cascades MTB park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013, and will be preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from 21 to 25 August. More information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za