With only days to the fourth round of the National Cross Country Championship, leading rider Kenny Gilbert has faced a devastating blow. Gilbert sustained a serious injury to his elbow during a training ride last week and has announced his withdrawal from the rest of the season.
Having finished in a painfully close second place for the past three years, the rider was determined to reclaim the prestigious OR1 title that he held from 2013-2015.With a 14-point lead in his class, he seemed unbeatable this season.
Having faced the highs and lows that come with racing, Gilbert has made peace with his situation. “There is absolutely nothing I can do to change the outcome and I’ve made peace with that. I know there’s a long road ahead and my ultimate goal at the moment is just to be able to get back onto my bike – whether that’s to race or not. It’s disappointing, but I’m fighting,” said Gilbert.
Pepson Plastics Husqvarna Racing’s Brett Swanepoel will now step in to represent the team in the OR1 Class for the rest of the season. At 24-years old, the rider has looked up to Gilbert for years: “Kenny has been someone I’ve looked up to my whole career. He was the first guy I really got to know when I got my first pro ride and we’ve been teammates and friends ever since. It’s going to be weird lining up at a cross country without him,” he said.
Having overcome a lengthy injury of his own with Gilbert’s support, Swanepoel added: “Injuries are tough and unfortunately a part of what we do. I’ve just come back from a serious injury and Kenny and his family actually looked after me while I was going through all my operations. I will do my best to represent him and the team while he’s recovering and I hope to see him back up racing soon.”
Riders will line-up in Lesotho’s Maluti mountains on Saturday, 27 July, for the next stop on the National Cross Country calendar.
Published by: Husqvarna Media
Photography by: http://www.zcmc.co.za