Top mountain biker Gawie Combrinck broke away from his rivals just 60km into the Race to the Sun and then spent over 100 lonely kilometres holding off Nico Bell and Pieter du Doit to claim victory in the tough 167km race.
In the end Combrinck’s time of 4:50:15 was just 46 seconds better than Du Toit who edged Bell in the dice for the line to claim second overall.
It was a brave tactic from the 33-year-old Combrinck who was recently forced to retire from top-level racing for medical reasons, but he told reporters after the finish that the tactical nature of the race played into his hands.
“We rode mostly together and at about 60km a move went,” Combrinck said. When the chasing bunch brought the leaders back Combrinck attacked and managed to make the break, with some help from his former NAD Pro teammate, Bell.
“They left me to go ahead. From there I just rode at a pace I could maintain. With Nico (Bell) not helping (the bunch) to chase me down no one really committed to bring me back.”
The Nelspruit resident said he still had the entry from before he retired.
Combrinck added that his leg was still “bugging” him but he was able to ride at a steady tempo and he was able to win the Race to the Sun by keeping his pace just below the level where his leg became a problem.
In the women’s race, Joanna van de Winkel cruised across the line four minutes ahead of Fiddy gey van Pittius with Marisa van der Linde third, another five minutes behind.
Defending women’s champion Vanessa Bell had a mechanical at 48km and was forced to withdraw.
2 100 riders tackled the scenic 167-kilometre journey from Hartbeespoort Dam through the towns of Brits, Roodekopjes, Bojateng and Pilansberg to Sun City.
1 Gawie Combrinck 4.50.15
2 Pieter Du Toit 4.51.01
3 Nico Bell 4.51.01
4 Dusty Day 4.55.25
5 Mark Elliott 4.57.17
6 Ruan Pieterse 4.58.27
7 Werner Roux 4.58.51
8 Adolph Krige 4.59.54
9 Tyler Day 5.02.01
10 Andries Nigrini 5.02.43
1 Joanna Van De Winkel 5.31.10
2 Fiddy Gey Van Pittius 5.35.06
3 Marisa Vanderlinde 5.40.40
4 S’Annara Grove 5.46.34
5 Charlene Barkhuizen 5.55.21
6 Chantal Du Chenne 5.57.57
7 Brigitte Joubert 5.59.19
8 Lesleigh Beukes 6.07.03
9 Chantal Haynes 6.07.10
10 Sue Lategan 6.07.15