Sunday was no day of rest for the Aussies and Brits, as two of their riders raced to take the top titles in the MTN National MTB Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Australian Chris Kovarik won the Pro-elite men’s downhill in 3:56.09, beating local golden boy Andrew Neethling who made a time of 3:58.54. Kovarik’s wife and fellow CRC Intense rider, Claire Buchar was pipped to the post in the women’s downhill by Brit, Tracy Moseley who stormed the course in 4:34.50.

“The bike was working awesome today and I could not have been happier,” says Kovarik who was riding the new Intense Evo for the first time.

“This was a pedaly track and I needed to see where my fitness was at considering my last race was in November last year so this was a good gauge and proved the winter training has paid off.”

He added: “I’m really happy to have won today. It’s been ages since I last did a race so to win on the first competitive outing of the new season is quite a boost for my confidence.”

The UK’s Marc Beaumont took third place, followed by New Zealander Justin Leov who just missed the four-minute mark. Emmeline Ragot of France took third in the women’s, followed by Fionn Griffiths for Britain in fourth.

The event has set a great precedent for the first Nissan UCI World Cup round of 2009 happening this weekend (11-12 April) on the same course. It is thought that two-time world champ Fabien Barel of France may not take part after missing Sunday’s race because of a busted knee.

Moseley says: “It’s good to get a race like this ahead of the World Cup because you never go as fast in practice as you do in a race so it’s good to be able to see where I can still improve.”

Photo: Kovarik said he felt like he “was in a video game” on the new Intense Evo

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