It was the first time that a black rider had won any of the Nissan TrailSeekers races. Just to prove that it was no fluke, he went on to win the Down and Dirty 70km race.

Although Niyonshuti was consistently one of the top riders during the following two seasons, he never managed to win again.

However, there could well be a changing of the guard this coming Saturday (25 May), because many of the Exxaro Mountain Bike Academy riders will not be racing.

The youngsters will probably lack the necessary experience to win overall, but riders like Philemon Sebona should be able to finish among the top-ten.

During the Absa Cape Epic, Sebona and Prince Maseko impressed by finishing 47th overall and 39th in the pro-elite category.

They were not the only Exxaro riders who caught the eye.

Jan Motshia and Thokozani Mahlangu (Exxaro Accenture Academy) finished 59 and William Mokgopo and Luke Mashiane (Exxaro Deutsche Bank Academy) were 66 overall.

This represented an improvement of almost 100% on the 2012 Epic when Sipho Madolo and Azukile Simayile finished 77.

Mxolisi Mgojo, Excutive Head: Operations Exxaro Resources, said: "The performance of the Exxaro riders warms my heart, especially if one takes the background of our riders into consideration.

"Watch this space. During the next three years you will see more of our guys riding from the front more often.”

What was impressive about the performance by the Exxaro riders, was that it was evident that they took the lessons from their first Epic to heart. They refrained from making some of their former mistakes again.

Sebona readily acknowledged the mistake he made during the 2012 Curro/Hazeldean race in the east of Pretoria.

“We started off racing at quite a fast pace. Being the novice that I was, I thought that I could take a slight breather and then catch up with the leaders again.

“That was a serious mistake. In that race there is no hope of ever catching up, because the route is suitable for fast racing throughout.

“I know now that, if you want a good result, you just have to dig deep. Forget about the pain and discomfort and just keep on pedalling as fast as you can.

“Luckily we only race 70 kilometres,” said Sebona who finished 45 in 2012.

Some of the top riders might decide not to race on Saturday because of the quite hectic racing schedule over the past few weeks. It included the Joburg2C, Sani2C, MTN Clarens and MTN Gravel Travel.

Gawie Combrinck (Westvaal/Bell Cycles), the defending champion, has been threatening to win a major race for weeks already. Unfortunately he ran out of luck when it mattered time and again. Maybe Saturday will be his lucky day.

His teammate, Nico Bell, who just won the Sani2C with Max Knox (EAI Solutions/Specialized) will be another rider worth watching.

Knox, 2011 Champion, has been unbeatable during the past three weeks. He started off by winning at Clarens, then at Wellington and lastly the Sani2C.

However, he has opted to skip the Nissan TrailSeeker event because he will compete in a national cross-country event.

Neil MacDonald and Brandon Stewart (FedGroup-Itec), who was victorious at the Joburg2C, will be in action Ben-Melt Swanepoel and Jan Withaar, two riders who have always been consistent in the Nissan TrailSeeker Series, are also capable of winning.

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The dates for the 2013 Nissan TrailSeeker Series are:

25 May Nissan TrailSeeker 1 - Curro Hazeldean

6 July Nissan TrailSeeker 2 - Cullinan

14 Sept Nissan TrailSeeker 3 - Van Gaalen

5 Oct Nissan TrailSeeker 4 - Hakahana

2 Nov Nissan TrailSeeker 5 - Cornwall Hill