The Varsity Sports MTB race will make its return at this year’s Varsity MTB Challenge on 30 September and 1 October 2017 in Paarl and Franschhoek.
Five universities will be taking part in this thrilling competition, including University of Stellenbosch (Maties), University of Pretoria (UP-Tuks), North-West University (NWU), University of Cape Town (UCT) and Nelson Mandela University (Madibaz).
Last year, the Maties MTB team dominated both the Men’s and Women’s competitions. This year, the Maties team sports a completely new Men’s outfit while the Women’s team welcomes a new rider, Frankie du Toit.
Twenty-year-old Du Toit is a fourth generation Matie and brings with her years of experience, having raced competitively since she was 15 years old. She also comes from a family that races competitively, and with mountain bike racing in her blood, it should give the Maties team that extra boost. Joining Du Toit are Marie Kempf and Nicola Giliomee, both members of last year’s team.
“Frankie is a great talent, but her biggest contribution is her personality and attitude towards the Women’s squad,” said coach Alex Heward. “She brings a high level of performance, but also uplifts her team mates in the most incredible way. Frankie sets a great example and the other women follow, which has led to an overall improvement in their performance.”
The Men’s team will see Tristan de Lange, Max Sullivan and Rinus Maarsingh join forces to defend the Varsity Sports MTB title.
Hailing from Namibia, de Lange is the 2015 Junior South Africa Cup champion and just recently, he won the Under-23 African Mountain Continental Championship category in Mauritius. “I’ve been riding a bike since I can remember,” de Lange said. “My father was very instrumental in getting me started and taught me technical skills. Cycling has always been a tradition in my family.”
The Varsity Sports MTB race forms part of the Varsity MTB Challenge, a two-day stage race which takes place annually. This event sees a host of varsity alumni gather once a year to rekindle friendships and tackle some of the finest trails on offer in South Africa. As for Du Toit, she has the unique opportunity to participate for her beloved Maties competitively, while sharing the trails with her parents and siblings.