The world’s elite cross-country racers competed at the South African National Series XC race Saturday on the Pietermaritzburg World Cup course, which will host the season opener next weekend.
In the rain-soaked women’s four-lap race, several of the world’s top women took part, including former world champion Irena Kalentieva, Lene Byberg, Esther Suss and Mary McConneloug (USA). Koerber took the lead at the beginning and was at the front for most of the first two laps. Then mid-way through the race fallout from a stomach bug earlier in the week hit when she ran out of energy.
But Koerber, who switched to Trek World Racing from Subaru-Trek in the offseason to focus on World Cups and the 2012 Olympics, re-grouped by the end of the race to take second place behind Kalentieva.
“That was probably the muddiest race I have ever done,” Koerber said. “It was 98 percent ride-able but towards the end it was really hard to see. Eyewear was fogging up and it was almost a guessing game choosing lines.”
World Cup cross-country, downhill and four-cross is returning to Pietermaritzburg on April 23-24 after the venue hosted its first race in 2009.