The Howick resident was locked in a no-quarters-asked battle with Liebenberg and they matched each other surge for surge over the first five out of six laps, before Marais finally managed to make the decisive break on a steady incline over the second half of the final lap.

Stuart Marais (left) leads Henry Liebenberg and Komborero Bere (partly obscured) at the end of the first lap of the final leg of the KZN MTB Lap Challenge Series at Cascades on Sunday. Photo: Gavin Ryan, QuickPix

As Marais put the power down on the gently climb, Liebenberg felt a cramp in his legs and had to ease up and allow his older rival to ride off to a 22-second victory, which also settled the overall series title. Marais and Liebenberg had shared the wins in the opening two legs at Shongweni in February and at Aloe Park in March, which meant they arrived at the final leg on equal points in tied third position on the series log.

Series leader on the start line, Jedson Tooms, finished 10th to claim third on the log while second-placed Travis Stedman was unable to ride on Sunday due to injury.

Komborero Bere finished third on Sunday, three minutes behind Marais and just less than a minute ahead of fourth-placed Brennan Anderson, with Mboneni Ngcobo claiming fifth just under a minute further back.

Tiffany Keep negotiates a rock garden on her way to winning the final event of the KZN MTB Lap Challenge Series at Cascades on Sunday. Photo: Gavin Ryan, QuickPix

In the B Batch race, Tiffany Keep finished in a superb sixth position overall to end up as the top women on the day and take the series title. The Thomas More matric pupil was three minutes ahead of Frances Janse van Rensburg, who was seventh overall in the event, with Nadine Nunes third a lap down.

In the C Batch race, Chloe Bateson was fourth overall to claim top spot among the women in that race which effectively meant she was fourth in the women's event for the day.

Keep's win, her second of the series after she won the opening leg at Shongweni in February, ensured she ended up as the top women overall with 200 points, with Janse van Rensburg second on 186 and Bateson third just two points further behind.