Retired Springbok captains Corné Krige and Tiaan Strauss will put their bodies on the line one more time when they tackle the three-day Subaru sani2c mountain bike race in KwaZulu-Natal from Thursday.
The two former Western Province forwards will be among 1 300 two-man teams to test their endurance in the world’s largest fully-serviced stage race, which starts in the southern Drakensberg town of Underberg and finishes on the coast at Scottburgh.
“We’re both very competitive and will be pushing each other to the limit,” said Krige, who captained the Boks in 18 test matches from 1999, culminating in the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
They both completed the race last year, but with different partners. “This time it’ll be the hard man of the Kalahari and the wild Zambian,” said Krige, who holds dual South African and Zambian citizenship.
The 36-year-old said mountain biking offered the same levels of adrenalin without the pain.
“Rugby is such a physical game and your body takes a bashing. This doesn’t hurt your knees any more than they already do.”
On the other hand, said Krige, rugby players were used to a maximum of two hours training per day and had to get over the mental hurdle of spending four to six hours in the saddle. “The good thing is we know how to fall!”
With both used to wearing the captain’s armband, he admitted there could be power struggle for the reins. “Tiaan has quite a strong personality, plus he’s a lawyer, so he likes to think he’ll lead.”
Krige said the 45-year-old Strauss, who represented South Africa and the Wallabies on 15 and 13 occasions respectively, would definitely lead on the downhills. “At 104 kilograms, he has the gravitational advantage.”
He said they had both trained hard and were in similar condition. Their team, the Kalahari Ferraris, is sponsored by Megapro, a sports marketing agency where Strauss is the general manager for rugby.
The pair is among a growing list of former rugby stars – including Joel Stransky and Andrew Paterson – to find touch with off-road cycling.