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Thomas More College rider Keegan Brand in action at the Spur KZN MTB Series, presented by Mongoose, sharing some of the sections of the cross country course that will be used at the UCI MTB Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships later this month.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Cycho Media

With the participating children ranging in ages from 5 to 18, the impact from the development of the Cascades Bike Park and the numerous international events that have taken place there was evident in the passionate excitement of the children involved and overwhelming growth in talent in the KwaZulu-Natal region.

The event served as a curtain raiser to this upcoming week’s UCI Master MTB World Champs and the Elite event the following week, with the track making use of a number of sections from both events and giving the children a taste of the international level courses that the Cascades venue has to offer, whilst still maintaining a manageable level of difficulty for all skill levels across the age groups.

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Keagan Johns in action at the Spur KZN MTB Series, presented by Mongoose, sharing some of the sections of the cross country course that will be used at the UCI MTB Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships later this month.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Cycho Media

With two courses separated for the younger and older riders, the focus was on creating a challenging course suitable to the age group racing, whilst also giving the riders an opportunity to try out some of the more technical sections on the World Champs courses. The level of talent in the region was evident with even the younger competitors facing up to the difficult, international level sections with ease.

According to race director, Ewan Cochrane “The school league is run on the same lap-racing format as Olympic mountain bike competitions with a strong emphasis on making the races accessible to all in terms of route difficulty and race distance.

"The 3km route for Saturday’s Spur School MTB league race runs partly through sections of all the courses for the masters and elite races, and is very spectator friendly with some fair climbs and challenging single tracks.”

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The start of the Sub-Junior Boys (U14) race at the Spur KZN MTB Series, presented by Mongoose, sharing some of the sections of the cross country course that will be used at the UCI MTB Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships later this month.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Cycho Media

In the younger age groups, the focus of the event is a fun introduction to the sport of mountain biking, but this does not limit the children from producing some intense racing action out front, even amongst some of the youngest competitors. With some of the top youngsters in the country participating, fierce racing was the order of the day, especially amongst the older riders, providing a taste of the racing to come when the World Champs kicks off later this week.

Motivation was high amongst the high school riders who were battling it out for some of the coveted slots given to the top riders to compete in the Spur National Series Finals to be held on 21 September, for the third year running at Bekker School in Magaliesburg, where schools will compete in three categories namely best girls, best boys and best mixed team.

School teams that finish their regional competitions within the top three positions in each category will automatically qualify for the Spur High School National Finals.

In the junior men’s and women’s age groups, the eventual winners Carlo Marzoppi and Bianca Haw also used the event as a warm up for the upcoming junior World Champs to be held at the same venue in 2 weeks time.

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National team rider Bianca Haw in action at the Spur KZN MTB Series, presented by Mongoose, sharing some of the sections of the cross country course that will be used at the UCI MTB Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships later this month.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Cycho Media

Both riders are part of a strong local contingent who have been selected for the national team to compete at the World Champs in the Junior age groups, with both having high hopes of a top placing in a very competitive field. Showing good strength and form ahead of the championships they are likely to do the host nation proud alongside the other selected riders.

The UCI MTB & Trials World Championships take place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August - 1 September and are preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from 21 - 25 August 2013. Tickets for the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships can be purchased via www.roag.co.za and more information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za