Kombo Bere on his old Scott bike, photographed last year. Photo supplied.
Date: 12 February 2017 By: Isabel Venter
The Soutpansberg’s very own Kombo Bere has moved to Pietermaritzburg to make a name for himself in the world of professional cycling.
Kombo recently joined the African mountain bike team, Team EuroSteel Pyga, and by doing so joined the ranks of his personal heroes Philip Buys (2012 Olympic mountain biker) and Matthys Beukes.
The team participated in their first race of the season, the Drak Descent Mountain Bike Challenge, on 21 and 22 January in KwaZulu Natal in the beautiful town of Underberg.
This two-stage race was a muddy challenge on the Sani Spoors trails. The race started towards the Gooderson Drak Gardens hotel and finished on the river near the Colford nature reserve.
Philip and Matthys competed in the team event, while Kombo raced in the solo category. On day one, Kombo started off in group D, five minutes behind his team mates. He managed to finish 13th overall and 7th in the solo category, earning him a place in the lead bunch on day two.
Setting out with his team mates, Kombo finished 5th overall and 2nd in the solo category. “It was amazing because, for the first part of the second day, I got to race up front with both these two incredibly awesome athletes,” said Kombo. Not that this race was Kombo's first brush with professional cyclists.
During 2016, Kombo represented Zimbabwe in the World MTB Championships as part of their mountain biking team in Nove Mestro na Morave in the Czech Republic. Participation in this event was no easy feat as cyclists could participate by invitation only as a result of their accumulated UCI (world ranking) points.
Apart from local accolades, Kombo also boasts other victories, such as being second overall during the Three Towers Stage Race in 2014, Limpopo U/18 mountain and road-bike champion (in the same year) and the 2015 U/18 Limpopo champion for XCO mountain-bike and half-marathon racing. Last year Kombo also cycled in the annual Kremetart road cycling race as part of the Limpopo Tac-Pulse Team, the first ever local professional cycling team.
The decision to relocate to Pietermaritzburg, explained Kombo, he only made after considering all his options. “With several approaches from many local bike companies and brands, the African mountain bike team’s offer stood out, not only in a financial way, but also in the long run,” said Kombo. The team is sponsored by Team Pyga, a proudly South African mountain bike manufacturing company, and EuroSteel.
Juggling a professional cycling career with his studies, however, is something Kombo mentioned that he must adapt to. Apart from a busy race calendar this year, he will also have to study to keep up with his sport bursary at the Varsity College in Pietermaritzburg. He is currently enrolled to study events management in the first year and then BA Communications in the second year. “I'm extremely passionate about mountain biking and cycling. The opportunity to one day be able to organise races, such as the gruelling Absa Cape race, is one that I look forward too,” said Kombo.
On the racing front, Kombo said that the team would be focused on national and provincial events to qualify for the African Continental Championships and the World MBT Championships in September to be held in Cains, Australia.
“I believe this is certainly a step to great things that are yet to come, and with the support and encouragement I get from my friends and family back home, the 2020 Olympic Games will not only become a certainty but a personal career highlight,” said Kombo.
Isabel joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in 2009 as a reporter. She holds a BA Degree in Communication Sciences from the University of South Africa. Her beat is mainly crime and court reporting.