In the inaugural Ride Crater Cruise in 2004 he finished second and in 2006 and 2008 he went one better and won the race. The only blemish on his record was in 2010 when he missed a podium finish by a mere 8 seconds to finish fourth.

This year's race will mark the return of the ‘prodigal son’ of South African mountain biking.

Swanepoel missed most of this season’s MTN ultra-marathons because he was racing in the United States.

He was certainly not there just to make up the numbers. He won three stages in the Breck Epic in Colorado and finished fourth in the gruelling Breckenridge 100-miler.

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Photo credit: Zoon Cronje

Another highlight was when he finished second in the national ultra endurance Series Final at Fools Gold. The American mountain-biking legend, Jeremiah Bishop, was the only rider who was able to catch up with and pass the South African.

Swanepoel mostly competed in 100-mile (160km) mountain-bike races. Each race lasted from seven to nine hours. According to him, 100-milers make for quite intense racing because they are usually contested on challenging single-track sections.

The experience gained by Swanepoel while racing in the USA, will certainly count in his favour during the Ride Crater Cruise race. Apart from the high mileage that he has done, there is something else that might count in his favour.

Max Knox (Specialized), Kevin Evans and David George (Nedbank360Life) and Nico Bell (Westvaal Columbia) all competed at the UCI World Marathon Championship in France on Sunday (7 October).

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Photo credit: Zoon Cronje

They are four of the major role players in the series but they will probably only arrive back in South Africa during the week leading up to the event. Come race day they might still suffer from jet lag.

According to Swanepoel the MTN Ride Crater Cruise is a totally unique race. “Offhand I cannot think of any international race that can be compared with the Ride Crater Cruise. It is a strange race in which you definitely need a bit of luck. Teamwork certainly also plays a major role, and so does endurance.

“One place where the race can be won or lost is at the koppie, just after the last water point. Another is on the single-track section where you have to bounce over tufts of grass all the time.”

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