The Sabie Classic is a race that has been around almost as long as Mountain Biking itself. As an event it does it’s best to live up to it’s name every year with a course that consists of long, steep and rocky climbs, loose descents and super slippery singletracks. Throw in either rain or oppressive heat and you have a proper challenge.
The race also has UCI status attracting a strong field as riders look to gain UCI points which aid in qualification for Olympics, World Championships and better starting positions at other UCI events.
The Elite men and ladies set off together for the 80km challenge in near perfect weather conditions. From the start you can only go uphill and the pace soon ramped up as we turned onto the initial slopes. Knowing the race well I settled into my own rhythm, determined to stick to a sustainable pace. This reaped benefits as I caught rider after rider up the infamous Mamba Switchback climb, eventually linking up with Nico Bell at the halfway mark.
We have very similar riding styles and spent the next 35km chasing the two leaders from Team Pyga Euro-Steel. Nico eventually proved stronger than me getting away with 4km to go and we finished in 3rd and 4th behind winner Matthys Beukes and 2nd placed Phillip Buys.
Yolandi followed a similar strategy to mine, riding at a pace she thought sustainable for the 80km and 2000m of climbing. Easier said than done…
She got it spot on and won the race after being alone in the lead for most of the race with Mauritian Aurelie Halbwachs in second. Kirsten Gillespie rounded out the podium in 3rd.
Next up for us is the Cycle Tour MTB and road races so it’s off to the fair Cape for Team Garmin MTB.
Elite Men Results:
1st Matthys Beukes
2nd Phillip Buys
3rd Nico Bell
4th Ben Melt Swanepoel
5th Pieter du Toit
Elite Ladies Results:
1st Yolandi du Toit
2nd Aurelie Halbwachs
3rd Kirsten Gillespie