HB Kruger, left, led from start to finish, to claim honours in the Paarl MTB Classic over the weekend.
The 25-year-old BCX pro from Paarl crossed the finish line in a time of 2:43:58, just under three minutes ahead of Robert Hobson, who stopped the clock in 2:46:34, with Jurgens Uys completing the podium in 2:48:30.
The Boland event, which also offered a 30km option, was reinstated this year after a hiatus of a year and Kruger said it had the potential for significant growth.
“There are amazing trails in this region and Paarl is a proper playground for mountain bikers,” said Kruger, who won the Liberty Winelands Encounter alongside teammate Waylon Woolcock last month.
“It can definitely grow because it is very well organised, the course is well marked and there is a great vibe here.”
He was delighted with his performance, even more so because it came in his backyard. “It was great to be able to ride to the start from my home, do the race, and then ride home afterwards,” he said.
It is a testing course with a total ascent of 1 700m. “That is a lot of climbing for this distance but being from Paarl I knew what to expect so I went quite hard up the first climb.
“I built up a bit of gap and then I paced myself during the race and tried to stay alert to what was happening behind me.”
Kruger said the conditions were dry and slippery, which meant he had to stay focused throughout.
“The biggest challenge is going up Paarl Mountain, but there is some great single-track going down into Rhebokskloof.
“However, it is a fairly long section and you still have to work coming down because it’s easy to make a mistake and take a tumble if you are not focused.”
In the women’s race, Capetonian Carmen Buchacher also dominated from early to lay the foundation for a comfortable victory.