Karl Platt proved on Saturday by winning the MTN Sabie ultra-marathon bike race that patience is a virtue.
Despite the South African and Namibian riders trying their utmost to put him under pressure the Team Bulls rider refused to be intimidated. He just kept on riding at his own pace biding his time for the right moment to dish out his own punishment.
And when the German attacked on the Jantjiesbos climb it was game over within minutes. None of the local riders could stay with Platt and a few second lead quickly turned into minutes.
The Jantjiesbos climb which is a new addition to the race definitely has the makings to become one the legendary climbs of South African mountain biking.
To say the route which the riders had to take to get to the top of the Jantjiesbos climb was a technical challenge will be a slight exaggeration because you can’t really call it a road. The riders had to guess their way through all the loose rocks and Mother Nature’s other obstacles. Picking a line over the rough terrain was challenging even for Philip Buys who is renowned for his technical prowess.
Platt’s winning time for the race over 110 kilometres was four hours 51 minutes and 21 seconds. Philip Buys (Garmin-adidas) finished second in 4:54:20, followed by Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN/Qhubeka) in 4:55:15, Max Knox (DCM) in 5:01:08 and Mannie Heymans (Garmin-adidas) in 5:03:16.
Platt, four time winner of the Absa Cape Epic, was full of praise for the way the MTN Sabie ultra-marathon was organized.
According to him the route compares to that of any international ultra-marathon. ÔÇ£It was a tough and challenging race but you could still enjoy it,ÔÇØ was how Platt summarised his race experience.
Platt started off riding at a high pace. He was supported by Niyonshuti who also did quite a lot of hard work early on to establish a breakaway.
Platt commented on his success by saying: “It was hard work today the competition here from the other riders was a lot tougher than I expected. I could see they wanted the win badly and perhaps too badly forcing some mistakes. My win was a nice acknowledgment of my work over the winter. I am happy with my form and preparation for the Cape Epic.”
Platt, Niyonshuti, Buys, Knox, Heymans, Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin-adidas) and Paul Cordes (MTN Qhubeka) managed to get away in a break.
In his over eagerness┬áto win in front of his home crowd Knox made a slight judgment error which led to him puncturing and losing valuable time. He dropped back to about 15th even 17th position.
But still Knox refused to give up. The moment he was mobile again Knox rode like a mad man to catch up with the leaders which he eventually did at about the 40 kilometer mark. A few spectators on route said they were amazed at the speed Knox was racing to catch up again.
Unfortunately for Knox it was not to be his day because in the last few kilometers when the race heated up he punctured twice.
Buys possibly rode one of his best races ever. He is the one rider that realized having Platt in the peloton could be beneficial.
The moment the breakaway stabilised Buys became Platt’s shadow never letting the German rider out of his sight. He was not at all fazed about what the local riders were doing or not doing. Staying on Platt’s wheel was all the mattered to him.
Buys also proved that he can read a race by accelerating just at the right moment to win the king of the mountains prime to extend his lead in this competition.
On the Jantjiesbos-climb Buys was dropped by Platt, Niyonshuti and Knox. It is not clear how he managed to catch up and pass Niyonshuti again.
It won’t be a surprise if it was Buys’ kamikaze approach on the last serious downhill section that enabled him to get back into the second position.
The unsung hero of the day was definitely Paul Cordes (MTN/Qhubeka). He gave one of the most unselfish displays of mountain biking. ┬áThroughout the race Cordes’ only goal was to insure that Niyonshuti is in a favourable position to have a realistic chance of winning.
On one of the last climbs he put in a super human effort to pace Niyonshuti to the top. His selfless ride prompted the organizers to contemplate bringing in a prize for the most heroic ride during the race albeit a “man of the match”.
The women’s marathon race turned into a ding dong battle between Eszter Erdelyi Cluer and Yoland├® Speedy (both MTN/Qhubeka).
In the end Erdelyi Cluer won in a time of 3:48:30, beating Speedy by a mere eight seconds. Ariane Luthi (Contego) finished third in 3:58:09.