Other Races

Exxaro MTB Academy riders racing in TransAlp

“Eish”!

The meaning of this exclamation of surprise and wonder will certainly intensify for Phillimon Sebona and Prince Maseko (Exxaro MTB Academy) as they lined up for the first stage of the Craft TransAlp mountain-bike tour in Mittenwald, Germany. It will be their first taste of what European racing is all about.

To say that they are excited and looking forward to the new chapter in their mountainbike careers will be an understatement.

They are absolutely thrilled, even though they don’t really know what they are letting themselves in for.

Sebona will follow in the footsteps of his elder brother, Tuis, who also competed internationally a few years ago as a member of the HSBC professional road team.

His brother has given him some advice on the do’s and don’ts of European cycling and he has also pointed out some of the possible pitfalls that should be expected while competing in Europe.

Prince is making ‘family history’. He is the first of his family to travel abroad. “My mom is so proud of me. She cannot stop bragging about my cycling achievements.”

The privilege of competing in the TransAlp, which starts in Mittenwald, Germany and finishes in Riva del Garda, Italy, is their reward for winning the Exxaro Development Category during the 2013Absa Cape Epic.

Of course Sebona and Maseko are keen to make the most of their adventure. “We owe it to our sponsors to give it our all to make them proud. But we also want to learn as much as possible of what life in Germany and Italy is about. “I think my camera will work overtime while we are there, because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Maseko.

He admits that he does not know much about the TransAlp.

“I will worry about the route profiles when we are in Germany. All that mattered to me over the past few weeks was to train as hard as possible in order to be at my best.”

The way Sebona raced during the recent Absa Cape Epic, showed that he is not one to rush in where the proverbial angels fear to tread. “I studied some of the route profiles. It would seem that we will be tested by some really steep climbs, but that is what I love. I love riding steep climbs because it brings out the best in me. One thing that will help is that there are no thorn trees in Europe. We will only have to be on the lookout for sharp rocks.”

Sebona hopes that, as the tour progresses and they adapt to the European race tactics, they might get a good result in one of the stages.

“The important thing is that we should not allow ourselves to be carried away and be intimidated by what the other riders are doing.Prince and I have been putting in some long hours. We understand each other and know how far and hard we can push one another.I think what makes us a good team is the fact that we are able to ride off each other’s strengths.”

“We definitely want to ride at our own pace at first, perhaps starting off a bit cautious and rather wait for the right opportunity to go big.”

“Spectacular mountainbike courses, beautiful mountain panoramas, awesome passes, famous cities that host the stages, professional event organisation and participants from about 40 countries work together to make this event a unique experience on the mountain-bike scene. An ambitious mountain biker will ride more than 600 kilometers and do about 18000 vertical metres of climbing. This will boil down to a pure adrenalin rush at times,” is how the race is described.

Exxaro wants to thank Rennies Travel for sharing in this exciting initiative and sponsoring the two cyclists’ return flight tickets to Europe.

Route data

 

route

level

km

hm

 

13.07.2013

Mittenwald – Mayrhofen

4

111,08

2.106

to stage 1

14.07.2013

Mayrhofen – Brixen

4

99,80

2.497

to stage 2

15.07.2013

Brixen – St. Vigil

5

56,92

2.833

to stage 3

16.07.2013

St. Vigil – Alleghe

5

73,79

2.614

to stage 4

17.07.2013

Alleghe – San Martino

5

73,28

3.137

to stage 5

18..07.2013

San Martino – Crespano

5

104,04

2.781

to stage 6

19.07.2013

Crespano – Rovereto

5

118,52

3.005

to stage 7

20.07.2013

Rovereto – Riva del Garda

2

38,55

1.269

to stage 8

total

   

675,98

   

photo