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Hard work ahead . . . Tim (front) and Kris Rush at the Reservoir Rd mountain bike track. The duo will compete in the Pioneer mountain bike race, which covers 745km from Christchurch to Queenstown, next week. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Oamaru riders Tim and Kris Rush are under no illusions about how tough the Pioneer mountain bike race through the Southern Alps is going to be, as they prepare for the brutal seven-stage event.
The race, which starts in Christchurch on February 5 and ends in Queenstown on February 13, covers a distance of 745km and features 15,508m of climbing.
The longest stage, the fifth between Lake Tekapo and Lake Hawea, covers 112km, while the shortest is only 20.5km, at Christchurch’s Adventure Park.
Tim, who will race with brother Kris as part of the two-man Alps 2 Ocean team, expected the race _ in which he had never competed –┬áto be nothing short of agonising.
“I’m expecting a lot of suffering,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to any of it.”
Kris said neither he nor Tim had tackled a race of the Pioneer’s magnitude before, but they had a good idea of what to expect.
“It’s going to be tough … it’s the first big mountain bike race we’ve done. We’ve done one-day races, but this is seven days.”
The pair are more used to road racing and will have to make a few adjustments if they are to be competitive.
“With road bikes, you get such a good draft, the guy at the front can be going hard out and if you’re at the back, you can be pedalling gently at pretty much the same speed. With mountain biking, it’s exaggerated,” Kris said.
He said it was not really possible to slip in behind another rider on a mountain bike because the speeds were not as high, meaning drafting did not provide an advantage.
However, it was still necessary to keep up with other riders as closely as possible.
He believed if the brothers were to be successful, they would have to pace themselves and take the race one stage at at time.
“I think it’s just not going to be hard out as much in the race, because it’s such a long way. It’s about being smart about it.”
Kris said a high finish on the final ladder was their target, rather than hitting the course hard from the start.
“We would obviously like to win it, but realistically, as long as we give it a good effort, we’ll be happy. We could go and say we will smash everyone, but it might not be feasible.”
The Pioneer mountain bike race was held for the first time last year.
Last month, Tim finished 13th overall at the national elite road championships in Napier, which covered 169km and featured close to 90 riders.
Kris completed 141km before officials pulled those not in the leading bunch off the circuit, allowing only 22 to finish the event.