Pieter du Toit went head-to-head with defending champion and two-time winner Wessel Botha for 55km before ultimately fending him off to narrowly win the 947 Ride Joburg MTB race in Johannesburg today.
The 20-year-old Pyga Euro Steel rider won by two hundredths of a second in the two-man sprint to the line, dashing Botha’s hopes of claiming a third consecutive title.
Travis Barrett placed third, beating Wicus Breytenbach by 0.3 seconds in another tight sprint finish.
“It was a really fast start, with Wessel setting the pace. I stuck with him and gradually we broke away from the group and within the first 2km we were on our own,” said Du Toit, who placed second in the sixth event of the Trailseeker Series in Cullinan yesterday. This 70km marathon was won by Botha.
“Wessel was really strong, but 10km in he got a puncture. I tried to get away from him but he managed to catch me again. I managed to stick with him at the finish. I gave everything in the sprint.”
Du Toit said he never checked the finish before the race and so the sprint started when they saw the finish line up ahead.
“It was all in. My legs were sore, but I told them to shut up and went hard.
“The course was brilliant. The rain gave it so much grip; the singletrack was immaculate. You couldn’t ask for better conditions.
“There was a lot more singletrack in this year’s route, which was very nice and added to the fun. Unfortunately they took the big climb out at the finish which I was waiting for, but overall it was a great track.”
Du Toit, who placed third in the last two 947 MTB races, was “super happy” to win today.
“It was something I was aiming for and a major milestone in my career.”
He added that he always aimed for the win when he entered for a race, however, when he came second behind Botha in yesterday’s race, he saw how strong the latter was.
“I knew it was going to be hard if I wanted to beat him.”