Greg Minnaar will lead the SA Downhill challenge at the UCI MTB World Championships. Photo: Santa Cruz Syndicate

CAPE TOWN – Eighteen cyclists, including Olympians Philip Buys and Alan Hatherly, have been chosen to ride for South Africa at next month’s UCI MTB World Championships in Cairns, Australia.

The mountain bike team also includes 2014 Commonwealth Games team member Mariske Strauss.

Elite, Under-23 and juniors make up the 13-strong cross-country squad, while hot-shot World Cup ace Greg Minnaar spearheads the Downhill challenge with three senior men and two juniors.

But selection and participation are often not spoken in the same breath in South African sport, with self-funding for athletes becoming more and more evident in many codes.

Already, London Olympian and Glasgow Commonwealth Games team member Buys says he’s staying home on this occasion.

“With CSA’s self-funding policy, it makes it difficult for us at the moment and my XCO seeding has dropped quite a bit, from around 40th to 111th, so my start position will be way at the back.”

Currently, Buys and new team sponsors Euro Steel and Pyga are going all out on the local scene to make a name for themselves. “And the best place to do that is the local major stage races and marathon races.”

To this effect, his team won the African jersey at the Cape Epic, joburg2c and sani2c events, obviously to the detriment of his XCO ranking as he missed a few local XCO races as well as continental championships.

“But Commonwealth Games and Olympics are always in the back of my mind, and we might do a bit more XCO events again closer to the big-game events.”

Meanwhile, Strauss is excited to make the team.

A soaked Strauss said after a wet winter’s bike ride from Stellenbosch to Durbanville: “Right now, I think my entire daily drought restriction 87-litre allowance of water is soaked into my riding gear! But yes, things are going really, really well.

“I fly to Europe on August 15 and then from there, I’ll go to Australia. So I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve down there. As ever, it’s going to be another great honour to represent South Africa.

“In Europe, I’ll race two events, the Swiss Cup in Basle on the weekend of August 19, and then on to Val di Sole, Italy the next weekend for the last World Cup.”

SA MTB Team

Cross-Country

Elite: Philip Buys, William Mokgopo, Sithembiso Masango, Rozalia Kubyana, Mariske Strauss, Cherie Redecker.

Under- 23: Alan Hatherly, Julian Jessop, Frances du Toit, Bianca Haw. Juniors: Pieter du Toit, Johann Trotzky, Tiffany Keep.

Downhill

Elite: Greg Minnaar, Johann Potgieter, Stefan Garlicki. Juniors: Cullen McMaster, Niko Velasco.

African News Agency (ANA)