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Woolcock readies for repeat Series victory at Nissan TrailSeeker van Gaalen


Matt

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Because Philip Buys (USN) is still undecided if he will race, Woolcock will become the new leader if he is able to pull off a top-three finish in the Nissan TrailSeeker Van Gaalen race on Saturday (20 October).

 

It is quite possible that the battle for the overall honours could turn out to be between Woolcock and his RE:CM teammate, Neil MacDonald. Woolcock was third in the Nissan Down and Dirty as well as at Nissan Tyger Valley, while MacDonald was second in the Down and Dirty and second in the Nissan Diamond Rush in Cullinan.

 

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Buys, who won at Cullinan and finished second at Tyger Valley, is the only other rider who finished on the podium twice this season.

 

Saturday’s race, which will start at the Van Gaalen Cheese Farm at Skeerpoort, is one of Woolcock’s favourites. “It is definitely one of the more difficult technical races of the Nissan TrailSeeker Series because the route is hilly, as well as rocky, and there are many single-track sections.

 

“This means that the risk of getting punctures or technical problems is quite high and you need to stay focussed to avoid it.”

When asked how one should go about winning the race, Woolcock referred to what happened last year. “Ben-Melt Swanepoel (Merida/Squirt) and I attacked early, while we were going up the first serious climb, and we managed to get away. None of the other riders could catch up with us again.

 

“To launch an attack on the same climb again is definitely an option, but there are some other technical sections where a chance can be taken in the hope of getting away.”

 

According to Woolcock, having MacDonald as a teammate might count in his favour. “If we should manage to get away and stay together, we could use the district roads to increase our lead.”

 

What, in his opinion, is the ‘Wow’ moment of the race? “For me it is the last single-track section on the way to the finish. This is a well-kept single-track section next to a river, and very pleasant to ride.”

 

Tim Fair, the man responsible for the route design of the Nissan TrailSeeker races, describes the Van Gaalen course as the best of the series. “Besides the exhilarating and challenging routes, the past years have seen riders tested by extreme weather conditions, ranging from heat waves to torrential downpours.

 

“The route takes full advantage of the unique environment of the Magalies Mountains and Hartebeespoort Dam. The race gets off to a fast start until riders find themselves grinding up the rocky concrete climb to enjoy the spectacular view of ‘Harties’ from the top. From the crest of the climb, the single and dual-track descent is adrenalin pumping.

 

“Once back on the valley floor, it is fairly easy-going until the riverside single tracks begin...and this is where the fun also begins. The riverside single track snakes along the river’s edge. From time to time it crosses over narrow bridges and passes through pitch dark bamboo tunnels before delivering the riders to the grassy finish.

 

“Besides the infamous rocky descent, this year’s Marathon route will see the reintroduction of ‘Greek Church loop’ which is the final spirit breaker during the last quarter of the race.”

 

For more information about the upcoming races please visit www.advendurance.com

 

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