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  • Writer's picturedirtyheart

PE Plett - back with a bang

Famed for its exceptionally diverse route the M&G Investments PE Plett traces the East Coast of South Africa, straddling the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces. Each year the race switches direction, with the 2022 edition heading north from Natures Valley, near Plettenberg Bay, to Port Elizabeth’s Crossways Country Kitchen. The 290 kilometre long route takes in deep indigenous forests, manicured plantations, pristine fynbos, emerald green pastures and scintillating singletrack. The best was saved for last this year, with the 3Rivers Trails providing 7 kilometres of downhill fun – including the brand-new Dam Busters singletrack – to cap a spectacular four days on the bike.

In the women’s race; Wintergreen Ciovita’s Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius and Lehane Oosthuizen were prevented by a final stage mechanical from taking a clean sweep of stage honours, but nonetheless rode to a commanding general classification victory.

The M&G Investments PE Plett Women’s Podium (from left to right): Tanja Schutte, Iliska Verwey, Lehane Oosthuizen, Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius, Renata Bossie and Jane Fisher. Photo by Zane Schmahl.

The women’s race at the M&G Investments PE Plett experienced its most dramatic day on the final stage. “We had a little bit of a hiccup today,” Harmzen-Pretorius recounted, understating the severity of their troubles. “I was super nauseous this morning and couldn’t keep anything in. Then on a climb Lehane’s chainring got super bent and we had to hit it with a rock to straighten it out enough to ride it to the finish.”

Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius and Lehane Oosthuizen overcame a bent chainring on Stage 4 to claim the general classification honours at the 2022 M&G Investments PE Plett. Photo by Flow South Media.

“It was a long day,” Harmzen-Pretorius puffed. “There was lots of walking in between today,” Oosthuizen added, clearly not quite ready to laugh about it yet. “My Garmin tells me we walked for about half and hour, including up the Queen of the Mountain climb.”

“I was really empty and Lehane pushed me a lot today,” Harmzen-Pretorius confessed. “I’m very grateful to her and thankful of her exceptional teamwork.”

The Wintergreen Ciovita team’s struggles on the final day allowed the Young & Brave squad, of Tanja Schutte and Iliska Verwey, to claim the stage win. Yet Harmzen-Pretorius and Oosthuizen had more than enough time in reserve to secure the overall title in a time of 15 hours, 2 minutes and 6 seconds. Schutte and Verwey were second, with TFG-Barrier Breakers’ Jane Fisher and Renata Bossie securing third.

Off the bike, the event’s cash and card free status sees riders being treated to free beers and wine in the chill zones. That headline selling point is tough to top after a long day on the bike, but the choice of upgrading to hotel accommodation or remaining in the standard two-person luxury canvas tent, the event’s sports massage services and delicious meals run the free bar close. For the majority of the M&G Investments PE Plett field those items were the main draw card, but for the elite teams the opportunity to battle for victory was the key attraction.

KWV sparkling wine brought the 2022 M&G Investments PE Plett to a celebratory close at Crossways Country Kitchen on Saturday, 26 February. Photo by Zane Schmahl.

With the titles wrapped up it is time to reflect on a decade of M&G Investments PE Plett races. To do so and to view all the photos and videos from the 2022 event mountain biking fans can relive the action on social media. Follow @pe_plett on Instagram or like the M&G PE Plett Facebook page.

Entries to the 2023 event, which is scheduled for late February once more, will open in March. 2022 riders will receive priority access to the 300 entries before they are opened to the general public. In order to aid riders, the race has a down payment entry policy; where riders reserve their spot with a R1 500 deposit and only have to make a final payment at the end of November 2022. For more information visit

Women’s General Classification after Stage 4:

1. Wintergreen Ciovita: Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius & Lehane Oosthuizen (15:02:06)

2. Young & Brave: Tanja Schutte & Iliska Verwey (16:17:51)

3. TFG-Barrier Breakers: Jane Fisher & Renata Bossie (17:13:05)



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