Kevin Evans. Photo by Sven Martin/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Johannesburg – Former champion Kevin Evans and new partner Max Knox will be aiming to stay the course to victory in the nine-day Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race that starts on the outskirts of Johannesburg on Friday.

Evans, who rides in the colours of FedGroup-Itec, is aiming to make amends for last month's Cape Epic disaster where an illegal shortcut cost him an hour time penalty and their lead in the African jersey category.

“Staying the course will be a relative term this year,” said Evans wryly, “especially in a race that's now self-navigated. I can apparently hardly find my way around a marked course!”

The 880km race from Heidelberg in Gauteng to Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast will employ GPS navigation instead of traditional route marking for the first time this year.

“This could be the biggest factor to influence our race upfront,” said Evans, who won the 2012 event alongside former teammate David George.

“Whether it's a good change or not, we're sure to find out soon enough. But given my apparent fondness for 'shortcuts', this new format might just be right up my alley.”

The fifth joBerg2c will see 750 riders roll out from the Karan Beef feedlot and cross the Vaal Dam on a 400m pallet bridge during the neutral opening stage.

The journey continues across the Free State before dropping off the escarpment into KZN and finishing on Scottburgh's main beach next Saturday. – Sapa