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South African marathon season gets underway at Barberton

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South African marathon champion, Max Knox (no. 4) and 2012 Attakwas champion, Matthys Beukes (no. 1) lead the front group up a stony ascent.

South African marathon champion, Max Knox (no. 4) and 2012 Attakwas champion, Matthys Beukes (no. 1) lead the front group up a stony ascent. (Image credit: www.oakpics.com)
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Philip Buys, pictured here during the 2012 MTN Crater Cruise Marathon, has been signed as a fully-sponsored racer by the Scott Sports Group for 2013.

Philip Buys, pictured here during the 2012 MTN Crater Cruise Marathon, has been signed as a fully-sponsored racer by the Scott Sports Group for 2013. (Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
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Adrien Niyonshuti and David George chase hard to fight out the remaining top 5 positions

Adrien Niyonshuti and David George chase hard to fight out the remaining top 5 positions (Image credit: Zoon Cronje)

The 2013 South African MTN Marathon National Series will get underway as usual this weekend on Saturday, January 26 at Barberton. Series promoter Tim Fair is expecting dramatic battles throughout the series.

Two of the races will be UCI sanctioned including MTN Sabie on February 23 and MTN Clarens on May 4.

Since 2010 Max Knox (Specialized), Kevin Evans and David George (Nedbank360Life) have dominated the series by winning 17 of the 22 races.

The late Burry Stander (Specialized) achieved two victories (he won both races he entered) and Jacques Rossouw, Karl Platt (Bulls) and Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN-Qhubeka) with one victory each, are the only other riders who were victorious in the MTN series.

The tragic loss of Stander after he died in a training accident will also have a significant impact on the series. In addition, the series will be without George, who was caught for using EPO and banned.

South Africa's other Olympian cross country rider Philip Buys (Scott) is planning to do more of the MTN races this season. Buys has not quite made up his mind, but mentioned that MTN Sabie, MTN Hilton, MTN Clarens and the MTN Ride Crater Cruise suit his style of riding. He won once in Hilton and came second in the other three races.

The youngster Lourens Luus, who has signed to ride for RE:CM this year, could just cause one or two surprises, and so could James Reid, who was second in last year's MTN Ride Crater Cruise.

Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (Westvaal-Columbia) will be the other two riders to watch.

2013 South African marathon series
January 26: MTN Barberton
February 23: MTN Sabie
April 13: MTN Tulbagh
May 4: MTN Clarens
May 11: MTN Gravel Travel (Wellington)
June 15: MTN Rooiberg
July 28: MTN Hilton
October 12: MTN Ride Crater Cruise (Parys)