Combrinck and Bell were sitting on the back of the front group where the rapid initial pace was being set at first by Swiss rider Konny Looser and then by South African Erik Kleinhans.
Team Spur’s James Reid and Julian Jessop were always in the mix too, as the riders negotiated some potentially nasty surfaces through the Chandelier Game Reserve.
But potentially nasty turned to plain horrible for most of the teams, who were faced with mechanical problems, leaving Combrinck and Bell alone in front with half the race route to cover.
Bell and Combrinck had endured more than their share of mechanical problems over the week, mostly tyre trouble, and were fortunate to complete the stage without glitch. But none of their rivals could say the same on Saturday.
Looser, lying second overall at the start with his CBC Elite Pro teammate, Daniel Gathof, was added to the Cape Pioneer Trek tyre-victim list.
They finished the stage 12th over 27 minutes after the winners and had to face the disappointment of losing out on a podium finish, which had seemed certain all week.
Reid and Jessop positioned themselves attentively in the front group, eager to preserve their hard-earned third place overall, but it wasn’t to be as Jessop damaged a wheel, which resulted in them having to run to the last tech zone and which saw them slip to a frustrating fourth overall.
The biggest gain on the day went the way of Dutch duo Erik Groen and Jeroen Boelen (Stappenbelt Specialized). They finished the stage in third place, but moved from fourth up to second with a hassle-free final leg, just on 18 minutes down on Combrinck and Bell in the final General Classification.
Despite a tyre problem on Saturday, final-stage fate also played into the hands of Kleinhans and Matt Beers (Full Sus/Topeak Ergon/Red-E), who moved into third place overall.
The winners of the opening stage lost over half an hour and dropped to 10th overall due to Kleinhans’s illness on day two. But they bounced back beautifully and their daily aggression saw them rewarded with a total of four stage wins and a podium finish.
The Estonian pair of Peeter Pruus and Peeter Tarvis (KOMO/RMW), winners of stage two, spent much of the week learning about how ruthless racing in South Africa can be.
Competing on hardtail frames put them at an obvious disadvantage over their rivals, who were all on fully suspended frames. They also endured numerous tyre troubles, but were able to round out the week with an encouraging second place on the final stage.
The women’s race was virtually drama-free. South Africans Cherie Redecker and Mariske Strauss (OMX Pro) were essentially in a class of their own, winning all seven stages and the overall title by almost two hours.
View the results here.