Europe’s top mountain bikers will be out for revenge at the UCI sanctioned MTN Sabie ultra-marathon on Saturday (23 February).
Last year’s race turned out to be an unofficial test between the top riders from South Africa and some of Europe’s best riders.
The local riders eventually dominated, with Kevin Evans taking the win. Max Knox finished second and David George was third.
Germany’s Karl Platt who finished fourth, nine minutes behind Evans, was the best placed international rider.
Thomas Dietsch (France), who finished 9th, and Germany’s Tim Bohme (11th) were the next best of the European riders.
Early indications are that quite a few of Europe’s mountain bikers will again be in action at MTN Sabie. Steffen Thum (Germany), the overall winner of the 2011- 2012 UCI MTB Marathon World Series, has already entered, as has his compatriot Simon Gegenheimer, who finished 4th overall in the same series.
Thum, who finished 24th overall last year, is no stranger to Sabie. The German is such a great rider mainly because of his consistency. In the World Series he managed to finish in the top 25 every time he raced.
Platt, who has won the Absa Cape Epic a record four times (2004, 2007, 2009 and 2011), has become almost a household name in South African mountain biking. He also won the MTN Sabie ultra-marathon in 2011, in what was certainly one of the most exciting races of that season.
Platt played a waiting game and did not waste any unnecessary energy by covering kamikaze attacks.
He timed his race to perfection and waited until the Jantjies Bos climb before making his move. Within minutes he rode away from everybody.
It will not be surprising if Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) and his new Epic partner, Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic), also race at Sabie.
In an interview with Cyclingnews.com, Sauser said that he will be racing in memory of Burry Stander this season.
The partnership of Sauser and Stander dominated the Epic over the past two years. Stander was tragically killed by a taxi while out on a training ride earlier this year.
Sauser won the Attakwas ultra-marathon last weekend.