Former Springbok rugby star Joel Stransky will partner cycling icon Andrew Mclean in the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek mountain bike race outside Port Elizabeth from June 3 to 5.
The 1995 World Cup winner, who said he had become addicted to the sport after racing the Cape Epic for charity, is looking forward to his debut in the Eastern Cape’s premier three-stage event.
Stransky, who often trains with Mclean, said he had heard only positive things about the Zuurberg event, which seeks out some of the most remote corners of the Addo Elephant National Park and Sundays River Valley.
“Apparently the riding is wonderful with beautiful scenery, but racing with Andrew probably means I won’t see much of it though.”
Mclean, a four-time Giro del Capo winner in his prime, has competed twice before.
“It really is a wonderful event. Some of the scenery is terrific and when you get up on to the ridge on day two, it is an exceptional view.
“We are looking forward to the whole experience,” he said. “Our wives are coming with us, so it’s a real family affair.”
While acknowledging the lifestyle aspects of the race, the former sporting professionals left no doubt of their desire to compete.
“When we get on the bikes we will be racing as hard as we can in our category,” said Mclean.
“I’m over 50 but Joel (48) is not there yet so we will ride in the 40 age-group and look to do well.
“We have been doing a lot of training and Joel mentioned the other day that he’s probably fitter now than he was for the 1995 World Cup.”
Although gently mocking his partner’s competitiveness, Stransky has plenty of respect for Mclean’s ability.
“Andrew is a humble and quiet guy, but a brilliant cyclist and a great ambassador for the sport.
“I’m also quite quiet so when we ride hard or race, there isn’t a lot of chitchat – only suffering.”
Stransky, who started cycling competitively around seven years ago, said it had become a “proper addiction”.
“Rugby is much, much easier. It is only 80 minutes and there is pain involved, but not as much suffering.”