The 2023 M&G Investments PE PLETT wrapped up in Nature’s Valley, near Plettenberg Bay, on Saturday, 25 February. After four days of fantastic mountain biking and flat out racing the victors were the Imbuko {type}DEV teams. Franko van Zyl and Rudi Koen won all four stages in the men’s race. While Danielle Strydom and Karla Stumpf earned a hard-fought general classification win, despite giving up time on two days to Aspire-Action Cycles’ Juanita Mackenzie and Michelle Reed.

268 riders set out from the Crossways Village, outside Gqeberha, on the race south for the eleventh edition of the event. Thursday, 23 February’s, Stage 1 featured a 65-kilometre route with 1 000 meters of climbing; starting in the Eastern Cape’s singletrack paradise, the 3Rivers Trails. Making the most of the perfect riding conditions Matthew Keyser and Rossouw Bekker, of Valley Electrical Titan Racing, raced to the first King of the Mountain hotspot of the race but were unable to match Van Zyl and Koen on the final kilometres, ceding 31 seconds to the eventual race winners.


Franko van Zyl (left) and Rudi Koen (right) completed a perfect clean sweep of stage honours, winning all four days. Photo by Shaun Glover.

In the women’s race on the opening stage Strydom and Stumpf claimed the first Queen of the Mountain prize, but could not shake the Eastern Cape locals, Mackenzie and Reed. The Aspire-Action Cycles’ team sprinted to stage honours and the first green jerseys of the race. With only 4 seconds in it, the battle lines were drawn for a fiercely contested women’s race.

Stage 2 took the field south from Mentoors Kraal, in Jeffreys Bay, to the Assegaaibosch Hotel near Kareedouw. The Queen Stage proved pivotal in both the men’s and women’s races, though it was Strydom and Stumpf who made better use of the 79 kilometre long course. They put 14 minutes into the overnight leaders, Mackenzie and Reed, to seize the green jerseys in style. While Van Zyl and Koen conceded the King of the Mountains prize to Rogan Smart before putting the hammer down and winning the stage by a commanding 7 and a half minutes.


Valley Electrical Titan Racing’s hopes of a general classification victory were dashed on Stage 3 when both Matthew Keyser and Rossouw Bekker suffered crucial punctures. Photo by Shaun Glover.

The shortest stage of the race, Stage 3, was not expected to prove as decisive in the general classification battle as the preceding day. Yet Keyser and Bekker endured a difficult day. Having established a lead after the King of the Mountain hotspot the Valley Electrical Titan Racing team struggled with a series of punctures. This eventually required Bekker to insert a tube, which then also went flat. Their travails allowed Smart and Oliver Munnik to race home to the Tsitsikamma Lodge and Spa, behind the increasingly dominant Van Zyl and Koen. The Imbuko {type}DEV Liv women also extended their advantage on the day, adding another 7 minutes to their buffer on the Aspire-Action Cycles combination.

Going into Stage 4 both Imbuko {type}DEV teams thus held comfortable leads. The 72 kilometre race to Natures Valley featured just 1 050 metres of climbing and provided little opportunity for Valley Electrical Titan Racing to make up time on Van Zyl and Koen. Rather the Imbuko {type}DEV Giant men sprinted to their fourth stage victory and completed a perfect clean sweep.


Imbuko {type}DEV Liv’s Danielle Strydom (left) and Karla Stumpf (right) emerged victorious from the women’s race, winning two stages and the overall title. Photo by Flow South Media.

Van Zyl and Koen’s final accumulated time was 10 hours, 1 minute and 23 seconds. Keyser and Bekker finished second on the general classification, 21 minutes and 28 seconds down. Third place was filled by the Signal Bikes team of Munnik and Smart, a further 4 minutes and 7 seconds back.

“It was 4 days of great racing,” Van Zyl enthused. “The M&G Investments PE PLETT route was of top quality and the scenery was amazing. It’s always nice to race against Valley Electrical Titan Racing too. We had some great battles over the four days; they certainly made the race interesting and challenging at times.”

Behind the leading men’s teams the racing was fiercely competitive as riders like Kevin Evans (leading) duked it out for age category honours and bragging rights. Photo by Shaun Glover.

“This victory is really important for our team,” Van Zyl added. “It’s a great way to thank our sponsors, team mates back home and the support crew who looked after us here, for all their support. It’s great to see everyone’s efforts paying off.”

In the women’s race the final stage was won by the Aspire-Action Cycles team, but Imbuko {Type}DEV Liv had enough of an advantage for that not to be a major concern. Despite conceding 3 and a half minutes on the run in to Natures Valley, Strydom and Stumpf’s margin of victory was still a significant 16 minutes and 35 seconds. The day’s stage winners, Mackenzie and Reed were left to rue a difficult second day and thoughts of what might have been. Garden Route Cycling Tours’ Nicola Freitas and Rethe Mostert, meanwhile, were happy to complete the podium places.


The more relaxed riders could take the time to take in the views and stop for a spectacular selfie overlooking the Indian Ocean. Photo by Shaun Glover.

“This was my first M&G Investments PE PLETT, it’s a hard race but it’s very rewarding,” Strydom stated after wrapping up the women’s title alongside Stumpf. “The scenery is really spectacular! I’m tired but I’m definitely coming back!”

A feature that will certainly help riders return to the event was the M&G Investments Boost Bar. Every stage, within the final 10 kilometres, the title sponsors provided a station which powered teams to the finish line. Iced coffees and chocolate milks supplied the necessary kicks to get everyone home to the race villages, where more treats awaited.


The M&G Investments Boost Bar provided a much-needed pick-me-up in, the form of iced coffees and chocolate milks, for the final 10 kilometres of each stage. Photo by Shaun Glover.

Thanks to supporting sponsors the race villages were wallet free zones. Heineken and KWV Wines took care of the rest and relaxation portion of the afternoons and evenings. While Food Lover’s Market handled recovery with delicious meals and snacks throughout the four days.

For those who missed the 2023 edition and those already missing it entries to the 2024 race open on Wednesday, 8 March. The twelfth M&G Investments PE PLETT will be an “up ride”, travelling north from Natures Valley. It will however feature one out and back stage, on Stage 3, as the race spends the day exploring the Storms River Forests and features a second night in Tsitsikamma. The final stage will thus end at Mentoors Kraal, in Jeffreys Bay.

Before looking too far ahead though, mountain biking fans can catch the highlights of this year’s race on Toyota Cadence on Tuesday, 7 March. The show airs on SuperSport 10 at 19:00. Tune in to see how the race unfolded.

For those that missed the 2023 race or who are already missing it early bird entries open Wednesday, 8 March, and the race highlights will be televised on Toyota Cadence on Tuesday, 7 March, at 19:00. Photo by Shaun Glover.

2023 M&G Investments PE PLETT Results

Men’s General Classification after Stage 4:

  1. Imbuko {type}DEV Giant: Franko van Zyl & Rudi Koen (10:01:23)
  2. Valley Electrical Titan Racing: Matthew Keyser & Rossouw Bekker (10:22:51 | +21:28)
  3. Signal Bikes: Oliver Munnik & Rogan Smart (10:26:58 | +25:35)


Women’s General Classification after Stage 4:

  1. Imbuko {Type}DEV Liv: Danielle Strydom & Karla Stumpf (12:30:31)
  2. Aspire-Action Cycles: Juanita Mackenzie & Michelle Reed (12:47:06 | +16:35)
  3. Garden Route Cycling Tours: Nicola Freitas & Rethe Mostert (12:55:20 | +24:49)


For the full results and more information on the 2023 M&G Investments PE PLETT please visit