The Kargo Cycling camp is abuzz with anticipation ahead of the 2nd Stihl 2016 SA XCO Cup Series race at Helderberg Farm in the Western Cape this weekend.
Hayley Smith and Frankie du Toit have been in the Western Cape since Monday, attending a skills training camp with Chris Nixon and preparing for the race.
“I have also been doing some interval training and core strengthening exercises,” says Hayley Smith, one of the new additions to the team. “My preparations have been going well and I am loving being part of the Kargo team,” she enthuses. “We have an awesome group of riders and I find it really special just being part of each rider’s journey at a race and experiencing all the highs and lows that go with racing.” Hayley placed 6th Elite Women in the 1st SA XCO Cup Series at Mankele, just behind defending National XCO Elite Women’s champion, Cherie Vale.
Frankie is recovering well after illness put her off the bike last week, and she is positive going into the race on Saturday. “The training with Chris has done my skills the world of good and we’ve had some quality training on the Cape roads.”
As a Rio 2016 hopeful, Frankie says Olympic selection changes her approach to racing. “I’m now more focused on performing, whereas before I was more focused on gaining experience,” she explains.
“A highlight of my season so far is definitely the first SA XCO Cup Series at Mankele where I came 2nd Elite Women and 1st South African lady across the finish. Lining up with some of my cycling role models was in itself amazing, but beating them was crazy! You always dream that it would happen, but don’t actually expect it to come true!” she says humbly. “So the whole experience around that race was great and I am super keen to prove this weekend that it wasn’t a fluke and I can do it again.”
In the men’s race, all eyes will be on U23 Alan Hatherly who will be looking to take the overall win. “My preparations have been really good leading up to Cape Town, I’ve managed to get some quality speed sessions in which I’m sure will pay off. My focus for the week has just been to ride the bike, nothing much changes until I’m actually on the start line.”
As the 9th place U23 Men’s MTB rider in the world, he doesn’t let the pressure get to him. “I would say it’s more motivating than pressure, because I always want to be better and improve on my results. I’m really hoping to move up those ranks by the end of the year!”
Brandon van der Berg
Pieter du Toit
Frankie du Toit
Photos: Boogs Photography