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Kevin Evans (MTN-Energade) at the MTN Attkwas marathon.
Three national titles to be contested in just over a week
South Africa's top mountain bike marathoner, Kevin Evans (MTN-Energade), is always up for a challenge. Later this week just outside of Klerksdorp, he'll take on another challenge on the road, where he is hoping to make South African cycling history by becoming the first mountain biker ever to win the gold medal in the elite men's individual time trial.
It is not an impossible goal. Two years ago, when the South African National Road Championship took place in East London, Evans nearly pulled it off. He finished third, less than 30 seconds behind the winner of the gold medal.
Last year he was all set to give the individual time trial another go, but unfortunately he injured his knee during the Giro del Capo Tour.
"I had no choice but to withdraw because it was more important for me as a mountain biker to achieve good results in the Cape Epic. But next week I will be ready to take on the time trial."
According to Evans, it makes perfect sense for mountain bikers to compete in individual time trials.
"In time trials, as in mountain biking, it is all about pushing yourself to the limit. In most mountain bike races it is every one for himself. The winner is the one who is able to push himself through the pain barrier for the longest stretch of time. The same applies to time trials.
"Time trialing is perhaps the most scientific discipline of cycling. It is not just about a rider's power-to-weight ratio. Aerodynamics also plays an important part and, because every second counts, it is perhaps the single most important aspect that should be taken into account when riding.
"I love the whole aerodynamic challenge. There is always something new that can be done to your bike or yourself to enable you to become just that fraction of a second faster.
"What counts in my favour is that I am rather small and, therefore, able to ride in a relatively low position on my bike without influencing my power-to-weight ratio. And, being a mountain biker, I am used to suffering on my own."
"A time trial is what you make of it. Every rider decides for himself how hard he is prepared to push himself. The biggest challenge is to pace yourself. Many riders make the mistake of going too fast in the beginning and then they fade towards the end."
In addition to the time trial, Evans is planning to compete in the road race. Then, he has just a week before the next MTN National Marathon Race in Sabie. That means he'll be contesting three national championship events in just over a week.
Evans, who proved during last year's Telkom Satellite Race that he could win on pavement, is realistic about winning the South African road title. This past weekend, he outfoxed David George to win the Construction du Cap race in Cape Town, boding well for his chances.
"To be fair I don't think I will win, because team tactics play such an important role in any road race. But believe me, if there is half a chance to win, I will certainly go for it. It does not actually matter who wins the South African national road race as long as it is an MTN rider. I think there are five of us who are capable of winning," he said, speaking highly of his teammates.