Crater Cruise draws talented field for weekend race

The annual Colorpress Crater Cruise will take place in Parys, South Africa, on Saturday, October 13. The race traditionally shapes up as a battle between road and mountain bikers.

Last year's race was won by mountain biker Ben-Melt Swanepoel (MTN/Microsoft) but less than four minutes separated the first four places, and Jock Green (second), the late Ryan Cox (third) and Nic White (fourth) were roadies who were not far behind.

This year some of the favorites are Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Jaco Venter (both Neotel), White (MTN/Microsoft), Green, Christoff van Heerden, Chris Froome (all Konica-Minolta) and David George. Venter finished third this year in the Mazda Series race in Harrismith while Froome is a young Kenyan who has consistently been winning races in Africa, Europe and Japan. Froome, who has signed with Barloworld for next year, won the fifth stage of the Giro Della Regioni (which is part of the Nations Cup series) in Italy, a stage in the Tour of Japan and the best young rider classification at the Giro del Capo.

Mannie Heymans (MTN/Microsoft) predicted a fast pace that will eliminate riders. "Because the Crater Cruise-route is so flat I think the pace is going to be high from the start. I also think team tactics will play a significant role in the outcome. Fortunately for us we've got four riders in the MTN/Microsoft team who can counter and attack," Heymans said.

Heymans won the first Crater Cruise event and maybe he would have won the second edition if a farmer hadn't locked his gate during the second event. Heymans was away with the final selection of the day, the locked gate meant there was no official winner that year.

"This hasn't been one of my best years. I have been battling. Don't ask me why, because I really don't have the answers," the 36 year-old said. "In hindsight I perhaps should have taken things a bit easier after the Cape Epic and allowed my body to recover. But I didn't and ever since I have been paying the price. That's why I see my role as that of 'super' domestique. I will be the guy who counters the early attacks or makes the pace hard in the beginning of the race to try and eliminate some contenders early on.

Friday, October 12
85km Colorpress Road Master Blaster (a road cycling event for 50 plussers only)

Saturday, October 13
100km Colorpress Crater Cruise
25km Dirt Flirt number 1

Sunday, October 14
56km Colorpress Crater Cruise and
25km Dirt Flirt number 2

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