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Kargo Pro Cycling's Alan Hatherly hopes to be back to defend his Sappi Howick MTB Classic title on Sunday, 6 March. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media.

Moved to earlier in the year to avoid the winter cold of the KZN Midlands and with the added Enduro event, organisers are looking forward to a stellar weekend’s festivities to mark the province’s oldest mountain biking event’s second decade of support from the MTB fraternity.

2015 men’s winner Alan Hatherly and his Kargo Pro Cycling team mate Marco Joubert are hopeful they will be on the start line on Sunday and to be a part of the occasion, provided all goes well for them at the KZN XCO event the day before.

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Callan Deacon rode to second place in 2015 and will hope to again be at the sharp end of the field of the 2016 Sappi Howick MTB Classic on Sunday, 6 March. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

Last year’s runner-up Callan Deacon of Callan’s Bike tech in Hilton knows the region’s spectacular trail network well and will again hope his local knowledge will see him produce another strong performance.

ROAG Racing’s Jedson Tooms will be another keen to tackle the tough, technical 40km route that offers some of the best sights and scenery of the region while providing participants with a challenging yet rewarding morning in the saddle.

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ROAG Racing's Jedson Tooms and the rest of the 2016 Sappi Howick MTB Classic participants are in for a mountain biking treat comes Sunday, 6 March's 40km event. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

Hatherly and Joubert’s Kargo team mates, Frankie du Toit and Hayley Smith have confirmed they too will be in action in Howick this weekend and the pair, bringing with them some strong form, are set to start Sunday’s 40km contest as favourites for the women’s title.

Sunday’s action will also see hundreds take on the popular yet still challenging 20km Intermediate route while the 10km Kids Ride will see families by the dozen enjoy their dose of off-road cycling adventure.

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Kargo Pro Cycling's Frankie du Toit (front) and Hayley Smith (background) will start the 2016 Sappi Howick MTB Classic on Sunday, 6 March as favourites. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

Preceding that, Saturday’s Enduro has the local MTB community bubbling with excitement as the three-stage event that starts and finishes at the Karkloof Farmers’ Market takes riders through the heart of the region’s popular trail system.

With the likes of Hilton Frost and Kim Westbrook set to lead the men’s and women’s Enduro charger respectively, organisers are also looking forward to welcoming parents and children, novice Enduro participants and parent/child combinations to the event as well.

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Mark Millar and the rest of the Sappi Howick MTB Enduro entrants will be eager to be a part of the event's first ever staging on Saturday, 5 March in celebration of the Sappi Howick MTB Classic & Enduro's 20th anniversary celebrations. Paul Botma/ Gameplan Media

Participants are also reminded of title sponsor Sappi’s social media competition during the event.

While the racing snakes battle it out at the front of the field on both Saturday and Sunday, less serious riders are encouraged to snap a photo of themselves when they pass the Sappi photo frame.

Built at the Shafton Fire Tower, the frame is a fun way to take a break from pedalling and create a few digital memories and, by posting the images on the HMBC Facebook page using #HMBC and #InspiredByLife, riders then stand a chance to win one of several prizes including an Apple iPod.

The Sappi Howick MTB Classic & Enduro takes place on Saturday, 5 and Sunday, 6 March 2016. More information can be found at http://www.howickmountainbiking.co.za or www.facebook.com/howickmtb.