2006 Commonweath Games silver medallist David George made the leap from road to off-road racing in part in 2007, and recently signed with MTN Energade mountain bike team for 2008. George will partner with team-mate Kevin Evans, the South African marathon mountain bike champion for the upcoming 2008 Cape Epic race.
George has been helping Evans with his training the latter has dropped more than three kilograms and more than six percent body fat compared to the same time last year, mainly as a result of George's stage-race training strategy and a disciplined nutrition plan.
"We're aiming for a podium finish at the Epic and the way our preparation has gone so far, I'm pretty confident we can do it," said Evans, who is still the only South African to have finished on the Cape Epic podium (third with Austrian partner Silvio Weltschnig in 2005).
"We're combining my mountain bike racing and Cape Epic experience this will be my fifth Epic with David's knowledge of stage racing preparation and nutrition and are hoping that will help us achieve our goal," said Evans. "As part of our build-up, in February, David will race on the South African national team at the Tour de Langkawi and I will race on the MTN Energade road team at the Tour of Egypt. In March we'll both race the Giro del Capo. These road stage races will help get us accustomed to consecutive days of hard racing."
Last year, George raced with Christoph Sauser to finish off the Cape Epic after both of their partners withdrew from the race.
Returning to the MTN Energade team for 2008 are Melt Swanepoel and Mannie Heymans. Swanepoel had a successful 2007, with among other victories, the elite men's African cross-country title and finishing runner-up to Evans at the South African marathon championships. Heymans, a Namibian national who is a two-time Olympian and multiple African champion, continued to recover from a serious shoulder injury with some solid performances in both stage races and marathon events and won his seventh Subaru Sabie Classic title.
Carla Rowley, who started with the team as a marathon-racing novice in 2007, has been retained following a successful first year, which saw her finish regularly in the top 10, including a few podium positions.
2008 MTN Energade team: Kevin Evans, David George, Mannie Heymans, Melt Swanepoel, Carla Rowley.