The 2018 mountain biking season gets underway in a few short days, on the 20th of January, at the traditional season opener: the Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen. The one hundred and twenty one kilometre ultra-marathon – from Chandelier, near Oudtshoorn, to Pine Creek, in Great Brak River – has once again attracted a field of world-class elite riders.
With UCI points towards the world marathon series title up for grabs, as well as R25 000 for the first male and female rider across the line there are enough reasons for elite riders to make the trip to the Klein Karoo for the Attakwas Extreme as a stand-alone event. That being said, the event has become an essential test of the effectiveness of riders’ off-season training ahead of the Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen and the Absa Cape Epic.
In the UCI women’s field the Swiss national, but South African resident, Ariane Lüthi will be looking to return to winning ways at an event she has won on five previous occasions. The Team Spur rider struggled to reach the personal heights of 2015/2016 last year but looks to be getting back to her best, and with unquestionable winning pedigree and the Attakwas Extreme knowhow she will take some beating.
Lüthi’s main rivals are set to be Jennie Stenerhag, Robyn de Groot, Sabine Spitz, Carmen Buchacher, Amy McDougall and Candice Lill. Stenerhag, riding in the colours of Cape Brewing Co, dominated women’s stage racing in 2017; winning each of the stage races she entered including the Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, the Absa Cape Epic, the Perskindol Swiss Epic and FNB Wines2Whales. Her former stage racing partner, De Groot had a difficult season last year as she battled a lingering injury – but the Ascendis Health rider is a previous Attakwas Extreme winner and as a Southern Cape resident trains on the notoriously tough rolling roads towards Great Brak River regularly.
De Groot’s current stage race teammate, Spitz, will be taking on her first Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen. The German veteran is one of the most successful mountain bikers in the history of the young sport and will be fired up to add the Attakwas Extreme to her exceptionally impressive palmarès.
Buchacher’s power and formidable resolve position her as another likely challenger; while McDougall’s superb technical skills could see her establish an unassailable lead in the rugged Attakwaskloof section if the women’s race unfolds favourably to her strengths. Lill meanwhile will be starting her first Attakwas Extreme, and is as such somewhat of an unknown across the distance. That said she finished 2017 in the undeniable form of her career thus far and has set herself lofty goals for the 2018 season. A victory at the Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen will get the year off to the best possible start for the dormakaba rider.
For more information visit www.atta.co.za.