Johannesburg’s Greig Knox, who was a late entrant, surprised even himself when he outlasted his competition to win the Bestmed Sondela MTB Classic near Bela-Bela in Limpopo on Sunday.
The 27-year-old UCT Private Client Holdings rider, who grew up in Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal but now lives in Atholl close to Sandton, pulled away in the last five kilometres of the 60km feature race to win in 2:18:34.
He was followed home by Ryno Smith in 2:19:30, with Francois van Tonder third in 2:26:13.
Knox, who entered the feature event at the last moment, said afterwards he was “ecstatic” at finishing on top of the podium.
“I have not been doing much training lately because I have had heavy work commitments, so this win does come as a real surprise.”
It was his first appearance at Sondela as, according to him, he “do not normally travel this far north to compete”.
Knox said he found the course fairly flat, which “made it tougher than expected”.
“We went out quite hard to try to create a split because the route was pretty flat and there was quite a big bunch.
“Eight of us broke away after about 20km and then we went into a single-track section.
“I worked hard there and then there was only two of us left at the front (Knox and Smith) and from there we rode up a nice gap on the rest until I managed to get ahead.”
Knox described his debut at the Sondela MTB Classic as a “wonderful experience”.
“It was very good. There was some awesome single-track out there and I really enjoyed the experience.
“And, of course, I’m very happy and surprised with the win.
Team Bestmed-ASG locked out the podium in the women’s event with 32-year-old Sanet Coetzee winning in 2:39:33. She was followed home by Mariette Hattingh in 2:41:16 and Nina Sender in 2:44:49.
On Saturday, Bendeon Mybergh and Alma Bester won the men’s and women’s sections in the 40km, with Damian Mellet and Retha Meyer triumphing in the 20km.