It is just one week away.  The first World Cup race of the season will have been and gone this time next week.  The South African town of Pietermaritzberg is doing their best to avoid any hiccups, and held a ‘test’ event this weekend as a trial run.  The race was no walk over, with many of the top pros seeing the opportunity to acclimatise and to get the edge on their competition.

The 12 hectare plot was used to enable the organizer to build a 4.7km long course.  The worry was whether or not it would be suitable, as in the last few weeks, heavy rainfall had battered the entire area.  On the day though, blazing sun had hardened the ground to something resembling dust strewn concrete.

The race was held over seven laps.  Wolfram Kurschat started in his normal style, taking a little while to find a rhythm and allowing the other riders to get a false sense of security.  The chase was then on and after three laps he had closed the gap to the lead group.  He now worked on his own lead, building an eventual 1 minute 20 second gap over second placed Jose Hermida (Merida Multivan) as he took the win – to use the words of the commentator “The young German takes the lead and never looks back. Unbelievable pace.”  Even Wolfram, usually extremely reserved, was happy with the result and looks towards the next weekend’s challenge.  “The form is there, let’s see what happens this coming weekend.”


As far as testing form, it wasn’t only Wolfram who seized the opportunity.  Irina Kalentieva, Bronze Medalist in the Olympics last year, finished her first race of the season in second place behind Olympic Silver Medalist Polin Maja Wloszczowska (Bank BGZ).  Irina moved into the lead from the start and then rode side by side with Polin, but the long climbs saw Polin pull away.  “Following my winter break, I am pleased with the result.  I felt that I lost a little of that final snap in my legs, but they felt good all the same” the Russian National Champion said following the race.


Team Topeak Ergon’s offensive didn’t end there.  The team was also represented by the young German Robert Mennen and the Austrian Alban Lakata.  They rode together and finished in 16th and 17th.  Robert was extremely pleased with the result “It was important to get a feel for next weekend.”  Lakata on the other hand felt that he should have ridden better, but the marathon rider’s endurance training is difficult to convert to cross country.


Domestically in Germany other members of the team were riding.  Ergon’s Director of R&D Kim Tofaute and Benjamin Brochhagen were at the final race of the “Poison Cup” to prepare for the National Bundesliga  in Muensingen.  The strongest race came from Tofaute, who finished third in the senior category.  Brochhagen finished in fourth in the Elite Men category, which gave him fourth place for the overall series.  Both were happy with their results, following an intensive week’s training in the run-up.  “It is going in the right direction, the season is young and the important races are still ahead of us” Brochagen said following the race.


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