Olympic hopeful Yolande Speedy will head up the women's field for the final round of the South African Mazda MTN National Cross-Country Series at the new Mankele Mountain Bike Park at Nelspruit, Mpumalanga this weekend May 17-18.
In the absence of the South African champion and National Series leader Amy Jane Mundy (Jeep) who is recovering from a viral infection, Speedy (IMC Racing Activeworx) will be doing battle with Sara Muhl (Jeep) for the 2008 title in the elite women's category.
Muhl, who won round four in George last month, has 960 points to Speedy's 910, setting the scene for a close finish since Mundy's points stand at 1100. A win is worth 200 points and second place worth 150. Muhl has also completed four rounds while Speedy has raced three. The final points are taken on a rider's four best finishes.
"It would be nice to win the National Series title, but right now my main focus is on preparing for the Olympics," said Speedy. "I will be at Mankele for a few days as part of a training camp. Saturday's race will be part of my Games build-up as I need as much racing in my legs as possible to improve my general conditioning and my speed."
Speedy recently returned from Europe where she raced in three World Cups, finishing a little lower down the field than she did last year when she impressed with some strong results which pushed her up to 25th in the world rankings.
"I wasn't in peak form for these World Cups because I had been ill just before I left, but I did find out where I am and where I need to be and every race I can fit in now will be valuable," said Speedy, adding that she is looking forward to the new challenge the Mankele course will provide.