White described the conditions on the day as very tough, but he believed that in facing a strong rider such as national under-23 cross-country champion Julian Jessop they may have played in his favour.
In a sprint for the line he managed to edge out Jessop by less than a second, with youngster Travis Stedman taking third place.
“The conditions were just next-level tough,” White told In the Bunch today. “It was pouring with rain and it was about three degrees [Celsius], so it definitely was not easy out there.
“But I think the conditions nullified everything and got all of us sort of close together. I don’t think anyone’s true strengths were shown in those conditions, which helped me.
“Julian is super strong; he’s even leaving next Tuesday to go overseas [to represent SA at the U23 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships].
“I doubt the results would have been the same if it was dry. I’m pretty sure the attacks would’ve been a lot harder and that’s where Julian’s strengths would’ve shown.”
White, from Ballito, knew the route quite well and said it was important to stay near the front in the first few kilometres which was a “decisive” section.
“That first section can get quite tricky; there are a few bottlenecks and in those conditions I just went out as hard as I could.
“I went straight to the front and set the pace. The field immediately split up and Julian, Travis, Andrew [Johnson] and I got away.”
Jessop then put in a “huge” attack, White said, which was when he went ahead, leaving White and Stedman chasing, with Johnson falling behind.
“He [Jessop] managed to hold a nice gap but then he unfortunately missed a turn and by the time he came back we were all back together again.
“That pretty much put an end to Julian’s chances of staying away. From there on it was almost impossible for anyone to break away.”
In wet and slippery conditions, White questioned his tyre choice as he struggled to get up most of the climbs, saying his rear wheel kept spinning.
However, he made up time on the straight and technical sections, he said.
“I just had to keep an eye on things and make sure no one got away and try to take it all the way to the end.
“With about two kilometres to go, after all the cold none of us were even able to shift gears. Our thumbs just didn’t work, so we had to use our palms to shift gears, which was quite a laugh.”
Not long after that, White said, Jessop put in another “massive” attack, which was when Stedman dropped back.
“I was very stoked to get over that last climb on Julian’s wheel,” he said. “I started getting cramps though and I thought my chances were going to be very slim, especially with Julian being a great sprinter.
“We rode together and the pace surprisingly backed off a lot, which favoured me because my legs were able to recover a bit.”
Leading up to the last 120 metres, the “sprint was on” between Jessop and him, White recalled.
“I just managed to stay next to him. It was a very exciting sprint; we went back and forth, wheel by wheel, but luckily I took the inside line to the finish. I think that was my saving grace for the win.”
White especially lauded teenager Stedman, who won the boys under-17 national champs road race in February.
“I think he is only 16 years old and he was super strong. It was great to see such a good KZN mountain-biker coming through the ranks so well.
“We’ve always known it and had it in the back of our minds, but I think on Saturday he showed what kind of future he has ahead of him.”