A reconnaissance of the finishing stretch in the Trailseeker MTB Series at Sondela Nature Reserve in Bela-Bela on Saturday paid dividends for eventual winner Pieter du Toit.
The 21-year-old from Potchefstroom, who rides for Pyga-Euro Steel, finished the 68km distance marginally ahead of Wessel Botha (NanoTime) in a desperate sprint for the line.
Du Toit, who won the 947 Ride Joburg MTB title last year, said he had checked the closing part of the race before they started and had an idea of what his tactical approach would be.
“When it came down to the last 500m around a corner, I noticed there was a smooth section and then a slightly rougher stretch,” he said.
“So as we got to that smooth section I went for it and just managed to hold on for the win.”
He crossed the line in a time of 2:17:34, just a second ahead of his rival.
Third-placed Brendan van Eeden (Absolute Motion) led a splinter group home, which the leading pair managed to break away from with 3km to go.
“As we came out of a section of singletrack with a bunch of about 15 guys, Wessel made a break and I went with him,” said Du Toit.
“We had to work hard together to keep the gap on the group behind us, so that made it quite difficult.
“But we managed to stay ahead and in the end it came down to the sprint and, as you know, only one person can win.”
Du Toit said the race was made memorable by the route it took through the Sondela Nature Reserve.
“To ride in those natural surroundings where you see lots of wildlife makes the experience very special, and I really enjoyed that,” he said.