The iconic 2019 Momentum Health Tankwa Trek presented by Biogen kicks off in just over a week. As one of the first big UCI events of the year riders will be looking to lay down a marker for the season ahead and gain valuable early points in the UCI rankings.
After the recent announcement of a notable men’s field, fans will be excited to discover that the women’s event will be no less of an epic throwdown.
Swiss superstar Ariane Luthi will line up with former South African Cross Country Champion Cherie Redeckerfor Team Kross-Computer Mania.
Luthi is a multiple winner of the most gruelling mountain bike stage races in the world, including the Absa Cape Epic, the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek presented by Biogen and the Swiss Epic. With a partner like Redecker, who is renowned for her technical abilities, Luthi seems particularly excited for the Tankwa Trek this year:
“This is one of the more challenging four day stage races and a great test of equipment, mental capacity and physical endurance. I love how rough and technical these trails are – they sure make for a true African experience! Cherie shines on rugged terrain and also has a lot of experience in this area,” said a hopeful Luthi.
With a strong reverence among her competitors for her fierce marathon racing ability, Luthi will undoubtedly be a target for Swedish rival Jennie Stenerhag.
“I’ve done every Tankwa Trek since it started, it’s been really nice to see how it’s grown. Knowing that all four days of racing will be live streamed this year definitely adds an extra dimension and will take the race up a notch. Mariske and I ride really well together – I’m excited to see what we will do,” said Stenerhag.
The 2017 Cape Epic champion had a quiet 2018 by her own high standards, but looked more determined than ever at the recent Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme presented by Biogen where she came painfully close to victory in a sprint finish.
As she partners with Mariske Strauss for Silverback Fairtree, local fans will have high hopes of seeing a set of South African hands on the 2019 trophy. Strauss is the reigning National Cross Country Champion and comes into the race off the back of a strong 2018 which saw her and Annie Last take 3rd at the Cape Epic.
Defending champion Candice Lill, who left Team Dormakaba in April last year to pursue success internationally, also had an impressive 2018 season. She racked up fourth at the Cape Epic with Amy McDougall and second at the South African National Championships – XCO.
She will team up with Annie Last – who made headlines last year when she claimed England’s first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal in women’s Cross Country cycling.
Team Dormakaba’s leading ladies Sam Sanders and Amy Mc Dougall will present stiff South African competition. Mc Dougall, the defending champion of the Cape Epic’s Absa African Jersey, joined the team in May last year and proved to make a powerhouse pairing with Sanders.
“I participated in my first Tankwa last year and I had fairly high expectations because of the all the positive things I had heard about the event. All I can say is that it lived up to its reputation! I’m very excited to race it with Amy this year – our shared love for riding bikes and similar skills makes us a formidable combo…” said Sanders.
Other South African riders looking to make an early season statement is the Galileo Risk pair of Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph.
“This race is really important for Theresa and I – every chance we get to race at a UCI level gives us the opportunity to better ourselves, our standard of racing, and our exposure as competitive female South African MTB racers. Slowly we have been climbing the ranks, and in 2019 we expect to take another fantastic step up,” explained Hill.
Rounding out the women’s event is an international pair of reigning National Champions. The Netherland’s Anne Terpstra and Hungary’s Barbara Benko will certainly add fire to the already heated field of riders as they team up for Ghost Factory Racing.