As always, the Sabie was a gruelling battle, revealing characters as rigid as old 26er hardtails. Held on the 21st of February, this ultra-marathon classic set the stage for a long and tough day in the saddle. The conditions were exceptionally hot and as always slippery as only Sabie can be. This year however, provided more drama than usual with just days before the race, Fritz Pienaar and the organisers of Ashburton Investments National Marathon Series’ second race, had to make a gutsy call whether the race should continue amidst violent local protests.
An early breakaway by local rider Max Knox even before the bunch reached the legendary ‘Mamba’ switchback, left the field in tatters, except for Urs Huber of Team Bulls fresh off a win at the Tankwa Trek. Both of them set the pace up the main climb, with Huber taking the King of the Mountain.
Team Scott LCB Factory Racing’s main man for the day, Gert Heyns, rode steady up the first climb, but pushed harder on the fast, yet slippery downhills. He and Karl Platt caught up with the leading men.
Huber however was in a similar mood as the protesters in town. Eventually Heyns opted out of the front pace and stuck to his own rhythm. He rode the final 40kms defensively. finishing fourth overall, 13 minutes off the pace. As a team, we can take a lot of confidence out of this race. The Sabie, being one of the benchmark marathon mountain bike races, forms part of Heyns and Beukes’ road to the 2016 Absa Cape Epic. Gert’s performance in this year’s race is sure to play a vital part for our team come 13th of March.