Cyclists faced a total ascent of 11 500m, with Robbers Pass and Kowyn’s Pass as the most famous and gruelling mountain climbs. Tackling the Kranspoort Pass on the first stage set the pace and provide the ideal warm-up for the rest of the Tour.

Having the Mpumalanga Tour in the backyard of Nico and Gawie played into the pair’s hands and they did not disappoint.

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Day 1: took the riders over 197km with a few sharp fast climbs. Gawie got away with a few other riders and spent the whole day in the break. A great move for Team NAD that only got caught in the last 50km.

“I saw the opportunity when the break happened. My legs felt great and I knew exactly what was coming so I made the decision to go with the break. I did not dig too deep as this is essentially a training exercise. Very happy with day 1 and how it all played out’ - Gawie Combrink.

With the great effort, Gawie claimed the Blue jersey (first Mpumalanga rider) on stage 1 and finished 4th on GC.

Day 2: Was a typical day at the office. No attacks stayed away and the bunch finished together.

Day 3: The Big one : A 144km loop from Nelspruit back to Nelspruit. Wille Smit attacked early and Nico countered straight away. On a small hill, Nico saw an opportunity and surged to the front without anyone following. The Peloton hesitated, no one willing to follow. Within a few kilometres, Nico managed to build up a 2 min gap and never looked back. A stage win for Team NAD and the Yellow leaders jersey!

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“When I saw the opportunity to attack, I just went for it and it paid off. I could not believe that no one bridged the gap. I put my head down and went for it and it paid of big time. I know the terrain and the roads here very well. We won the stage with 6 minutes and this ensured the Yellow leaders jersey. A great result for myself and the team “ - Nico Bell

After stage 3, Nico had a 6min 26sec gap on Willie Smit.

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Day 4: A great team effort saw Gawie do quite a bit of work for race leader Nico Bell. After the hard day on stage 3, Nico got dropped going up one of the climbs when team Road Cover took control and Willie made back some time. Teamwork paid off and Nico lost around 3 minutes of his overall lead. Still a great position to be in after 4 days of racing.

Day 5: A short 75km stage. Telkom set the pace for the day but no attack would manage to stay away. At the end of the day, Nico lost around another minute to Willie Smit which meant that heading into the last day, Team NAD had a 2 minute buffer on the rest of the competitors.

Day 6: The showdown. A 136km stage that would decide the outcome of the Mpumalanga tour 2016. Attacks straight from the gun meant that Nico and Gawie had to do quite a bit of chasing during the stage. They controlled most of the attacks very well, but at God’s Window, Willie attacked and no one countered. Nico rode with team Telkom who paced well and they pulled back the time on Willie. Eventually the attacks paid off and Nico got spat out the bunch. Riding on his own, with no help from any of the other teams, the gap between Nico and Willie started to decrease. A strong showing by team Road Cover meant that Willie Smit stayed away and won the final stage by 2 min which meant that Nico lost the Yellow jersey, but still managed to finish in 4th place overall on GC. A great result for the 2 man team.

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Thank you to all our sponsors for making the event possible.

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