The 30-year-old Tzaneen resident, riding for Insect Science, kept it together on the final day of the three-stage outing to finish just over two minutes ahead of CP van Wyk.
In the women’s event, Galileo Risk’s Sarah Hill won all three stages en route to the overall victory, saying it was the first time she had felt comfortable since contracting the coronavirus in August.
Gordon, who won the race in 2018, went into Sunday’s final stage with a three-minute advantage and said he felt “pretty comfortable with my lead”.
“My focus at that stage was just to maintain my position and time,” he said. “I wasn’t too worried, but there is always a chance that something can happen in a mountain bike race, so I didn’t take too many risks.
“Living in Tzaneen, I’m used to the mountains in the area and I’m comfortable if there is quite a bit of climbing involved.
“The Sabie is always a great race because it is well marked and such a friendly event.”
Not having done a stage race since February, Gordon said it was a good feeling to tackle a challenge of this nature after a number of single-day events. The route covered an overall distance of 184km.
“I really enjoy the stage races and I think everyone is getting back to form, although it was difficult to know the fitness of the riders before the race.
“The team’s aim was definitely to go for the win and it was good to have them supporting me.
“The route has changed for the first time in a long time, but I did know what to expect.
“We knew that day two (78km) was a long, climbing day, which I was ready for, so that was definitely in my favour.”
In the women’s race, Hill dominated throughout and won all three stages to secure a comfortable win over teammate Theresa Ralph.
She said it was the first event she felt like she was racing as a professional after her bout with Covid-19.
“The previous races I had been really struggling to regain a proper breathing form,” she said.
“I actually told my boyfriend I felt I was breathing like a French bulldog and it’s amazing how you need to learn to breathe rhythmically again.
“It was the first time I felt I had a bit of form since returning from lockdown and I was happy to handle the long consistent climb on the second stage.”
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