The Bestmed Masters team completed the 59km final stage, which included 920m of ascent, in 2:19:52 to lift the title in 7:36:27.

Gauteng Dairy’s Charles Steyn and Ian McLeod, who won stage one, finished runners-up on the final day in 2:24:11 to consolidate their second place in the standings in 7:41:38.

Last year’s champion, Gertjie Harmse, who rode with his brother Louis in the colours of SS Timing-ASG, completed the day’s podium in 2:24:59 to seal the same place in the general classification in 7:54:09.

Mapstone and Benson, who trailed Steyn and McLeod by just over a minute after the first day, made the most of a technical section around 6km into the 51km second stage to surge into the lead.

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Rory Mapstone of Bestmed Masters (front right) sets the pace during stage three of the Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, at Sondela Nature Reserve near Bela-Bela in Limpopo today. Close behind is mixed race duo of Sanet Coetzee and her brother Anton small, with Rex Benson. Photo: Gerrie Kriel/Tein Productions SA

“We got away going down a big rocky decent and just kept our heads down,” said Mapstone, who is from Pretoria.

“When we came out at the bottom, we couldn’t see the guys so we decided if they want to catch up they must work for it.”

He said they were able to keep their advantage on the course that started and finished at Elements Private Golf Estate and included 1 054m of vertical climbing to move into the overall lead heading into the final day.

The last stage of the Liberty Waterkloof Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, had been challenging but enjoyable after a tough start to the event, admitted Mapstone.

“I didn’t feel marvellous on Friday, with my legs cramping, but I felt good today and was able to set the pace.”

Their only scare came around 15km from the finish when they veered off course.

They were able to rectify their mistake quickly and pushed hard towards the end to remain ahead of Steyn and McLeod, whose challenged faltered after suffering a puncture.

Benson, who also lives in Pretoria, said they were lucky not to have lost more time on the opening day.

“We were very fortunate on day one. Rory damaged a link on his chain during the stage, which we only discovered at the end.”

They were able to replace the chain overnight and, according to him, were free of any further mechanicals during the race.

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The brother sister team of Sanet Coetzee (front) and Anton Smal won the overall mixed team category in the three-day Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, at Sondela Nature Reserve near Bela-Bela in Limpopo today. Photo: Full Stop Communications

In the mixed section, Team Bestmed-ASG’s Sanet Coetzee and Anton Smal cruised to victory in all three stages to take the title in 7:41:26.

“I thought it was going to be an easy ride, based on the short distances, but got a bit of a rude awakening when we tackled the course,” said Coetzee.

“Day two was exceptionally difficult. I thought it would be easy because it was just 51km, but it must have been one of the hardest 51km I have ever ridden.”

The women’s race was won by the Woolworths pairing of Reinette Geldenhuis and Phryne Williams in 10:57:08.