David Garrett turned his luck around when he won the 7Weekspoort MTB Challenge in Amalienstein, east of Ladismith in the Western Cape yesterday.
Garrett has twice finished second at the event, the most recent of which was last year, but the 15th edition of the one-day race saw him finally top the podium.
He set the pace from early on as he took the lead up Seweweekspoort and he inadvertently opened up a small gap on Jan-Paul Gerber and leading lady Yolande de Villiers as the race passed through in the 10km loop into the Great Karoo.
The trio joined up after Garrett, winner of the Panorama Tour mixed category with Susan Garrett, made the decision to wait for his followers. They worked together for the next 40km before last year’s runner-up made his move on the approach to the third water point.
Having fallen victim to an attack by Dylan Rebello in the same place last year, Garrett said he knew it was an ideal place to make his move.
His decision turned out to be the right one as he dropped the competition on the penultimate climb of the day and built up a one minute gap.
“After two second positions here I’m happy to have finally won it,” said the new champion, who finished in 2:59:27.
His two dogged followers, De Villiers and Gerber, battled it out for the second step of the podium but Gerber who proved to have the stronger legs after 85km of racing.
He finished two minutes behind in 3:01:01. Jacobus Barnard completed the men’s podium as he trailed a further six minutes off the pace.
De Villiers topped the women’s podium with a time of 3:01:02 and finished third overall, but said it had not been an easy day out.
“It was hard, the wind made it very difficult in the poort and you had to be really careful following wheels,” she said.
South African National Marathon Champion Robyn de Groot followed nine minutes behind and Jenna Borrill took third place almost 30 minutes later.