UCI Rocky Roads World Cup RD 1 – Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Rider Cat Result
David Fletcher Elite 66th
Rourke Croeser Elite U23 17th
Alex Baker Junior DNF

Rourke Croeser After much anticipation and over four weeks in beautiful Africa the World Cup was upon us and our young athletes had never been more ready! Last week’s race had used the same course as the World Cup would use giving the riders plenty of opportunity to practice the lines on arguably one of the most technically demanding courses ever built.

Rourke Croeser has been in stunning form in recent weeks and was pumped to race in front of a home crowd on a course he described as “perfect”. He would kick off not just our own World Cup season but also the first race of the new 2012 Rocky Roads Network World Cup with a 9.00am start on a damp course from rain the night before.

Rourke Croeser A perfect start saw Rourke move from 16th on the grid to the head of the race and made an early decisive attack with only Gerhard Kerschbaumer, Marcus Schulte-Luenzum and Alexander Gehauer able to follow. The four athletes powered into the amphitheatre for the first time with no sign of a chasing pack and the race radio at Orange Monkey-Cannondale alight with excitement as our South African star led the World Cup for the very first time.

They say there are many highs and lows in cycling and just as quickly as the euphoria had set in the mood came crashing down to earth as it came over the radio that Rourke had crashed heavily in a wet rock garden leaving him “knocked out” for a few seconds and badly bruised. After composing himself, Rourke climbed back onto his Cannondale and made his way round to the technical area to have a pedal replacement after damaging it in the crash. He then remarkably lapped his next two laps quicker than the leaders of the race as he made his way from virtually last place up to a finishing position of 17th.

World Cup Amphitheatre It can be a cruel sport and this was a hard blow to take for such a young aspiring athlete but showed tremendous signs of both courage and maturity to finish the race and give himself a nice grid position to do it all again in Houffalize in three weeks’ time.

Dave Fletcher There wasn’t long for the team staff to think about race 1 as race 2 was upon us and with it a first World Cup start in Orange Monkey-Cannondale colours for aspiring Olympian, David Fletcher. In this, his first season as an Elite Senior racer, Dave would have to start from 80th on the grid and face an uphill battle to move through the field and gain a better position for World Cup round 2. Dave had a trouble free race and put in a huge effort to move close to the top 60 in a star studded field.

Alex Baker After the excitement of day 1, day 2 was again full of emotion as our Junior rider made a fantastic start to his World Cup season, riding himself into 5th position on lap 1 only for a crash on the steep slippery steps to leave him just outside the top 10 and battling back into contention. The course had seen torrential rain the evening before and was like an ice rink with nearly every rider crashing somewhere. As Alex began to move up again, disaster struck as he crashed in the smaller rock garden coming down hard on his wrist and leaving him unable to grip the bars. This would be the end of his race.

It’s been an amazing time in South Africa with our athletes literally pushing themselves to breaking point. We now look forward to nursing them back to full fitness and doing it all again in the biggest mountain bike series in the world.

Images Courtesy of Darren Goddard Cycho Media
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