More of the same at new-look Classic

Tzaneen — The Insect Science Classic mountain bike race may have a new name for 2019, and there will be lots of improvements to the revamped event near Tzaneen, but, as the cliche goes, the more things change the more they stay the same, so expect to see Alan Gordon claiming his fourth title in four years on Saturday (Nov 2).

The Tzaneen local was a comfortable winner 12 months ago, beating former South African Olympic canoeist Alan van Coller into second by six minutes. And the winning margin was even bigger in 2016 and 2017 as he began dominating what was then known as the Magoebaskloof Classic.

This year’s Insect Science Classic doubles as the provincial championship which just adds another incentive for local riders to try and upset Gordon who has become something of a minor celebrity in the Limpopo mountain biking community.

Since his 2018 win he has added a significant international victory to his list of achievements and the marathon specialist celebrated his 29th birthday earlier this month with a win in the tough eight-day Crocodile Trophy mountain bike race through the outback of Queensland, Australia.

Alan Gordon (right) and Carel van Wyk, pictured here after the finish of the Crocodile Trophy event in Australia earlier this month, will be meeting again at the Insect Science Classic on Saturday. Photo: Crocodile Trophy

All of the above points to a cruise for Gordon on the revamped and improved Insect Classic 82km event on Saturday. However there are a few riders who are looking to make a name for themselves and would like nothing better than to unseat the defending champion.

Leading the charge could well be Polokwane businessman Maurice Ferreira who recently picked up a win at the Mooketsi MTB Challenge, Heinro Malan the winner of the Lentetrap MTB or Carel van Wyk who was with Gordon in Australia and finished ninth in the Crocodile Trophy.

The 82km, 45km, 20km and 10km races all start and finish at the Stanford Lake College in Haenertsburg, between Polokwane and Tzaneen. The four race distances mean there is something for everybody from the nervy novices up to the elite racing snakes.

The racing starts at 7am on November 2. Late entries will be taken on Thursday and Friday from 12pm to 5pm at the Olive Tree Coffee Shop in Tzaneen (in the Tzaneen Garden Centre) and before the race on Saturday at the Stanford Lake College. The event is timed by FinishTime.