Former South African men's marathon mountain biking champion Max Knox has made the shift to cross country and is feeling confident that he can perform well as he prepares for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in his hometown of Pietermaritzburg from August 26 to September 1.
The Specialized-SA rider is aware of the massive difference between the two disciplines and does not feel that being a marathon rider will be hugely beneficial for him. Being a marathon rider does help in certain instances, according to Knox, but there are other areas that he will have to work on in order to be on top of his game.
"Marathon riding and cross county are totally different and I don't think that being a marathon rider will give me an advantage over the other guys at the Worlds," Knox said.
"But with that said, I have done a number of cross country races over the years, and I think that my endurance from marathon racing will be something that could help me.
"If I use my endurance skills and add that to some speed work in the build-up to the Worlds, hopefully a good result will be possible for me."
Being born and bred in Africa's "Bike City" should prove to be an advantage for Knox who has been able to get to know the course very well over the years. This knowledge could prove invaluable when the cross country gets underway at the Cascades MTB Park.
"I went to school in Pietermaritzburg, which has meant that I have been on this course for years and I know what to expect," he said.
The world's best riders will all be descending on Pietermaritzburg and being pitted against the finest is something that Knox is looking forward to. Being able to test his ability against these riders will be a huge experience for the Specialized-SA team member.
"I think racing the best riders in the world is something that brings out the best in riders and just giving 110% is going to be vital.
"I am going to have to give it my absolute all throughout the race and being able to do that, for me, will be the most important thing at the end of the day," the former national champion said.
Having home support is something that Knox is really looking forward to and having his friends and family around will be a big bonus for him. This opportunity to have a world championship in South Africa is something that a lot of riders will never experience and Knox is aware of the benefit that this has for the local competitors.
"Having the biggest mountain biking event of the year in South Africa gives us local riders a huge advantage.
"I think that the local support could make all the difference for us local boys when we are out on the track and I hope that people will come out and support us!" said Knox expectantly.
Being a predominantly marathon rider, Knox has not set his goals too high and is hoping that he can take the whole event in and just really appreciate the enormity of the occasion.
"I am an open book, I really haven't set myself immense goals, and I just want to enjoy the experience and as long as I give 110% the result will not matter to me."
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