The Team Enza rider said the race was one of the hardest he had competed in.
“The scary part was about halfway in when I didn’t feel great and I almost stopped. I definitely wasn’t the strongest in the race and I was suffering.
“Halfway in I thought there was no chance for me.”
Maree said for a few laps he was not contesting the sprint, while others were pushing hard. Instead, he was just hanging on the back and hoping to stay in the race.
“At that point I thought ‘no, I can’t do this’. But luckily they slowed down and as soon as they did I went straight past them from pretty much being last.
“That’s when the race started changing – from one lap earlier when I felt almost like stopping to the next lap and being off the front.
“I was still suffering a lot, but it was easier struggling off the front than the back.”
“I scored six points in the last sprint, which was double points and that managed to put me tied on points with him.
“With me being ahead of him in the last sprint I managed to go onto the top step and he finished second.”
The 29-year-old said the next event he was wary of was the team pursuit, where he would be joined by Nolan Hoffman, Steven van Heerden and Gert Fouché.
“We’re the team that competed in the Commonwealth Games and we managed to win in December, so there is pressure on us.
“It will be the hardest 4km and it makes it worse that you’re in a team environment and you know the other three depend on you and you depend on them. You don’t want to disappoint them because they put in a lot of hard work.”
He said he would also like to do well in the omnium, in which he finished second last year and which he won in 2017.
“It will be one of my main goals. Steven won it last year, so I think it will be a good race between the two of us.”
Maree is the defending champion in the scratch race which will be staged tomorrow.
“It will be a very hard race and I think there are a lot of guys going in hungry. Nolan wants to reclaim his title. I think he’s won six of them and last year I beat him.
“Jean [Spies] is also really fast and will pose a threat.”
He felt the standard had improved each year, although the numbers were down this time on previous years.
“The level is extremely high and you can see it in the times of the individual pursuit races and the gears all of us are riding. We’re using heavier gears and doing faster speeds.”