Having confirmed his participation sometime back, Concept Cyclery Ballito powered by Burry Stander’s Jessop will look to use the event to get his 2016 marathon season underway while Davids and Hatherly will look to shake off their respective recent XCO disappointments with a strong showing at the prestigious 60km outing.

ccs-62657-0-81822200-1464708877.jpgTrek-supported Brendon Davids is hoping to 'blow off some steam' at Sunday's 60km Sappi Karkloof Marathon, the feature race of this weekend's 2016 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival at Karkloof Country Club, as he looks to repeat his 2013 victory at the race. Hayden Brown/ Gameplan Media

“The PE national was really disappointing for me so it would be nice to go to Karkloof this weekend and blow off some steam!” confirmed Davids.

“Since PE I’ve put in a really big block of training as I prepare to go over to Europe for a bit, so I’m going to have ride quite a smart race this weekend if I’m going to be in the mix.”

Both the race and the region are familiar territory for Davids, now competing as a Trek supported rider, and he is eager to use his local knowledge and previous good performances to his advantage.

“I ride in the area quite often and Karkloof is a race I have always enjoyed and done relatively well at before.

“I won there in 2013 in my first outing at Karkloof so I’d obviously like to repeat that again this year, especially having also led the race in 2014 before I suffered a double puncture and then missed last year’s race because I was competing at African Continental Champs in Rwanda.

““It has been quite tough being on my own now so a result at Karkloof would be a welcome one!” said Davids. “That said though, while I’m going there to race hard, I’m also going to enjoy the trails and being out on my bike again.”

Having raced to 53rd and 32nd position at the German and French legs of the UCI MTB World Cup respectively in recent weeks, Kargo Pro Cycling Team’s Hatherly jets back into the country needing to shake off the effects of both the jetlag and health issues of his recent travels quickly if he is to join Davids and Jessop at the sharp end of the field and challenge for this year’s crown.

The race’s title is one that has evaded young Hatherly in recent years, despite the XCO flyer having led the race for much of the first 40km in 2015, ultimately finishing sixth however – like Davids – his recent frustration may just provide the motivation he needs to rectify that this time around.

“We’re hoping for a solid set of results across the board,” explained Hatherly’s Kargo Pro Cycling Team manager, Shaun Peschl. “Hopefully Alan’s better after being a bit sick last week before the World Cup in France.”

The 2016 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival takes place at Karkloof Country Club on Saturday, 4 and Sunday, 5 June. The event offers 21km, 10km and 5km trail running races, 60km, 40km, 20km and 10km mountain bikes events as well as an Enduro. Entries can be submitted via www.roag.co.za while more information can be found at www.karkloofmtb.co.za.