The Proffix Swiss Bike Cup in Basel is probably the biggest participated in XCO race in the world with nearly 100 entrants in every age group – this number would have been higher if European Champs wasn’t held the same weekend in Munich, Germany. A large contingent of South African riders attended the event in final preparation for UCI World MTB Championships which is taking place this week. The weekend was kicked off with heavy rainfall all day Friday and through to Saturday afternoon when, just like Cape Town, one hour before the Sub Junior race it just stopped and the sun came out for the rest of the weekend.
Having never raced the series before and no UCI rankings for Sub Juniors, Josh Johnson and Seth Aszalos were placed on the last row with a seeding of 71 and 72. The course was a bit slow due to all the rain however very wide which allowed plenty opportunity to move forward in the pack. The boys embraced the challenge and were looking to repeat their podium performances from the week prior. From the start gun they both moved around the outside and climbed their way right up to the front before disaster struck for Josh snapping his chain and inevitably ending his race within the first 500m – in a course this flat(only one climb of roughly two minutes) and fast there was no possibility to get to the tech zone and remain in the race. Seth went into the single track 6th and was looking comfortable before having a crash and falling back to 18th. He fought on to eventually finish off 15th. It has been a great two weeks for the boys racing in Europe and getting really good results and learnings to bring back home to prepare for next year. More over it has been an incredible experience for them traveling Europe with their dads in a campervan, racing, riding fantastic trails and now headed to France to watch the Worlds Best at the UCI World MTB Championships where they both aim to be in a few years.
Sunday was packed with races kicking off with the Junior boys where Justin Swanepoel and Massi Ambrosi took to the startline. Both are first year Juniors and also their first experience racing abroad. Both said the size of the field was incredible as well as the depth of the talent – it was full gas off the startline and you had to race with confidence as any hesitation and you would lose five to 10 places quickly. The boys crossed the line 68th and 70th respectively both excited at the opportunity to have another go at it later this week as they will both be representing South Africa at the World Championships in Les Gets, France on Thursday at 17:00.
Tyler Jacobs lined up 10th on the startline in the Junior Womens race. This was her first experience of international racing as well as a startline with more than 10 ladies. Tyler got out in front and quickly realised that racing in Europe is very different to South Africa with a relentless pace the whole way around the course where all the ladies were fast on the climbs, powerful on the flat sections and technically good on the descents. A small group got away in the front and Tyler was in the chase group where she would finish 13th overall. This was a great learning experience for her and her coach (Tyronne White from DriveTrain Academy) who was also there. They now know what they can adjust in training in order to come back and fight for a podium position. Tyler puts on the green and gold in France on Thursday with her World Champs race starting at 15:00. 19 year old Andrea Schöfmann finished in 36th in the elite women’s field of 51 riders, also en route to World Champs whee she will race an an u/23 rider.
The Elite Men closed off proceedings – a stacked field of elites combined with u/23 riders saw over 100 riders competing which included South Africa’s Phil Buys, Tristan Nortjie and Luke Moir. As expected, the whole field stayed together on the blistering paced startloop before heading into the single track where a bit of carnage ensued with riders all jostling for position in single file! As with all the age groups, this track was built for speed and it was more of a 9 lap time trial with very little opportunity to recover. Phil got a good start and moved up into the top 10, although was feeling good and happy with his form decided to tap off in order to not over exert himself being a week away from World Champs and finished 22nd. Tristan rode a very consistent race finishing 38th having moved up from 48th. Luke had little expectation for the race still recovering from a stomach bug and fought his way around the course to finish 68th. The three will be racing World Champs on Sunday: u/23 Men at 10:45 and Elite Men at 15:15.
Words: Tyrone Rawlins – One Movement Athlete Management