Arno du Toit, Keagan Bontekoning, Danielle Strydom and the youngest member in the Insect Science Mountain Bike (MTB) team, Gunther Katzke, are busy with their final preparations for the upcoming World XCO Championship. These four riders will represent Team South Africa at Val di Sole, Trentino, in Italy from the 25th until the 29th of August.
What makes this achievement even more superb, according to a super proud team owner, Gerhard Booysen, is that the Insect Science MTB Team is the only South African team to have four representatives in the National squad. Booysen will accompany the Insect Science riders to Italy, not to race this time, but to support them as they compete against the cream of XCO Championship riders from around the globe.
Katze who is a Standford Lake College student and the only rider from the Insect Science Team based around the Tzaneen area, will make his international debut. The other three members have already experienced international com-petition. He will be competing in the division for Junior Men.
Strydom and Bontekoning will compete in the U/23 category for women and men respectively. Du Toit will be racing in the Elite Men division. According to the four riders, they were better prepared this year with the easing of the lock down regulations allowing for sport to commence once again.
Each of the riders will have to compete a couple of rounds on a set course, with a time limit per class that allows for the number of laps to be completed. The complicated part is that a 100 or more riders are racing on the same patch of ground at the same time.
Luckily, there are seedings in each of the categories, meaning the top or fastest riders start from the front and the slower riders make up the back of the starting line-up. But with a 100 or more riders who will be fiercely competing for top positions, the Insect Science riders, although up for it, will face one mighty task.
The team has not yet confirmed a departure date, but the initial plan is to leave a few days prior to the race. This is for them to climatize. After the World XCO Championship, the riders with the exclusion of Katzke, will head off to the World Cup Champs in Switzerland.
According to du Toit, at the World Cup events riders can take part in their private team colours. In XCO World Championship events, riders must take part in their national colours.