The Dutchman finished the 1 070km ultra-endurance mountain-bike race from Bloemfontein, Free State, in two days and two hours, beating
2017 winner Marco Martins’ time by eight hours.
Martins, of Portugal, who hoped to defend his title in what has been called “the toughest race on earth”, had to withdraw on Thursday evening due to illness.
Bekkenk said he thought beforehand that two days and five hours (53 hours) was possibly a good time for him to target to complete the race.
“Nobody wanted to race from the start,” Bekkenk said. “The guys [front peleton] wanted to wait for Martins and I thought that was a crazy idea, so I moved ahead.”
His decision paid dividends. He made his move less than 100km into the race and his competitors never saw him again as his lead extending to 60km at times.
Although his lead allowed him the luxury of taking some breaks, he opted to try for the 53 hours target he had set himself, which ended up giving him victory.
Bekkenk said he had an almost perfect race as he averaged over 20km/h for the course and only rested for three hours.
Second on the day was Heinrich Visser (two days, three hours and three minutes), followed by Chris van Zyl (two days, eight hours and two minutes).