The MTN Sabie marathon, which is scheduled to take place this coming Saturday, February 25, may turn out to be a dress rehearsal for the Absa Cape Epic.
Germany's Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (both Team Bulls), who have perfected the art of winning the Epic, have indicated that they will compete in the MTN Sabie race. Kevin Evans and David George (Nedbank360Life), as well as Jacques Rossouw and Brandon Stewart (Team Fedgroup-Itec Connect), will also compete.
The MTN Sabie will be the first event of the UCI Marathon World Series in 2012, and it is likely that more of the world's best riders will be participating.
Last year Platt made played the "waiting game" to achieve victory in Sabie. Despite valiant efforts by the South African and Namibian riders to put him under pressure, the German rider refused to be intimidated. He simply continued to ride at his own pace, biding his time for the right moment to dish out his own punishment.
The Jantjiesbos climb which was a new addition to the race in 2011, definitely has the necessary qualities to become one of the legendary climbs in South African mountain biking. When Platt eventually attacked on the Jantjiesbos climb, it was game over for his opponents within minutes. Not one of the local riders was able to stay with him and his lead of a few seconds quickly turned into minutes.
The route that the riders had to take to get to the top of the Jantjiesbos climb was a technical challenge with lines to be picked over rough terrain. Afterwards Platt, a four-time winner of the Epic, was full of praise for the way the MTN Sabie marathon was organized.
According to him, the route compared favourably with that of any international marathon. Apparently the decision makers of the UCI agreed with Platt. That is why it has been incorporated it into its worldwide series.
"It was a tough and challenging race, but still enjoyable," was Platt's summary of his race experience.
After winning the inaugural Cape Epic in 2004 with Mannie Heymans as his partner, Platt went on to win the Epic in 2007, 2009 and 2010 with Stefan Sahm as his teammate. They finished second in 2008.
Platt got his breakthrough in marathon racing in 2001 with a surprise victory at the Lake Garda Marathon. In the same year, he finished third in the TransAlp Challenge. Since then there has hardly been a marathon that Platt has not either won or at least finished on the podium.
A definite highlight was winning the Triple Crown - TransAlp, Cape Epic and Trans Rockies in 2002 with three different partners. In 2007 Platt, with Sahm as his partner, again won the Triple Crown.