The current UWCT women’s 50-55 year old Road Cycling World Champion Pauline Cound will be looking to her future son-in-law and Tour de France champion Chris Froome for inspiration, as she squares up to the huge challenge ahead of her at the UCI Masters Mountain Bike World Championships that get under way at the Cascades MTB Park on 21 August.
“Chris (Froome) is such a motivating factor for me,” said Cound. “Everything he has achieved is due to lots of really hard work. He has never shied away from tough challenges, and that is what is keeping me focused at the moment.”
Cound cheekily points out that she has an advantage over her future son-in-law Chris Froome, as she is already a world champion, while Froome has yet to clinch this coveted status in the sport of cycling.
“Chris has won the Tour de France but is hoping to win his first ever World Championship rainbow jersey this year, which is something that I already have!” Cound said jokingly.
Cound, an international athlete in six different disciplines is eyeing what could be one of the greatest achievements in South African cycling as she attempts to become a world champion in three different cycling disciplines inside three years.
Last year she clinched the UCI Rainbow Stripes by winning her age group at the UCI World Cycling Tour Final road race in Pietermaritzburg, and next week she will aim to add the UCI MTB Mountain Biking Masters World Championship title to her list of achievements and then, hopefully, next year include the UCI World Marathon Championships, also in Pietermaritzburg.
Cound has been in the position where she has qualified for World Championship events in the past but has opted out of the travelling – due to the high costs involved and general administration that goes hand-in-hand with sports travel.
Having an event like this in her own country was an opportunity that Cound could not pass up. “I have the opportunity to participate in an International event that is 600km from where I live,” the Johannesburg-based ultra-talented athlete said.
“I could not sit back in a couple of years and regret not taking part in an event like this, because I have the shot to be the World Champ in three different disciplines, and having three shots at the rainbow stripes in three years is something I could not have missed.
“This is going to be the most difficult event for out of the three for me and I am hoping to use this year as more of a stepping stone for the World Marathon Championships next year.”
Cound has represented South Africa in a number of different sporting disciplines including cycling, hockey, duathlon and triathlon, and the challenge of taking on an event like this was too enticing for the 54 year old to pass.
“I have represented South Africa in six different sports so the challenge was too inviting and for me to say no to such a massive worldwide event was out of the question.
Cound spent the past week getting to grips with the demanding masters MTB course, and she openly admits that the new technical sections and rock gardens have exposed her lack of experience on a mountain bike.
“The Masters course, in my perspective, is technical and is going to test us riders a lot. You need to have a really good strategy going into the race, know where to attack and where to sit back and relax, because you can get yourself into a lot of trouble if you do not play your cards right.
“The technical sections are going to be more difficult for me, but I think that if I can get through those then I will be able to do well in the climbs,” the multiple international mentioned.
The Johannesburg local has spent a lot of time at the Cascades MTB Park, and has been scouring out every inch of the track to get the best possible lines that will help her in her quest for the title.
“I have been riding the course by myself, with people following me, and I have been riding it a lot which has been quite daunting, but it is going to be interesting to see what happens when there are 20 of us riding on it at the same time,” Cound said.
The UCI MTB & Trials World Championships take place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August – 1 September and are preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from 21 – 25 August 2013. Tickets for the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships can be purchased via www.roag.co.za and more information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za
(With editing by gsport)