Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival Media Release

 No: kc2302

19 May 2023

Embargo : None

Written by : Tim Whitfield

Young gun Van der Watt leading the charge toward Karkloof glory

Karkloof - 2023 has seen a significant and noticable changing in the guard for the KZN mountain biking scene, and leading the charge of the young brigade is Daniel van der Watt who looks forward to the Sappi Karkloof Classic as a firm favourite to claim his first major victory.

The 19-year-old DriveTrain Academy rider credits his success in 2023 to a move with his family from Pietermaritzburg to Ballito on the KZN North Coast, and the resultant change in coach, which has allowed him to "find the love for mountain biking again".

The tall, strong rider adds that the new coaching philosophy from Tyronne White means he is "not worrying about the numbers as much and having a lot more fun on the bike."

The new outlook is clearly paying dividends and Van der Watt has this year picked up marathon wins at the Illovo Wartburg Classic in February, and the New Hannover MTB and the aQuellé Tour Durban in May. He has also dominated the tough cross country scene and won the opening two rounds of the KZN MTB XCO series and is clearly the rider to beat at the third leg at Cascades on Sunday.

"My family moved to the coast recently and I moved with them, so it just made sense to change coaches and I am now training with Tyronne at DriveTrain Academy," said the rising star.

"Tyronne organises a group of us to ride together two or three times a week and we go out and enjoy the trails, and so we are not staying in set training zones as much.

"Last year I was training on my own a lot more which meant riding to set numbers and training zones. Of course now, on the days we are doing intervals, we are looking at hitting the right numbers, but on the other days we are pushing hard when we feel good and if we are not feeling great we can back off a bit.

"I have really found the love for mountain biking again this year and that is why I am doing better I think."

Van der Watt is looking forward to a good ride and continuing his dominance in KZN when he tackles the Karkloof trails on May 28th, but is aware he faces a tough challenge. His task is made even more difficult because he is competing in a South African XCO Cup event in Bloemfontein the day before.

"The Sappi Karkloof Classic is a big goal for me this year. I want to try and win the bigger marathon events in KZN this year and Karkloof is one of the biggest.

"I think on my form so far this year I have a good chance to win in Karkloof but after travelling back from Bloemfontein I think my legs may be a bit sore so if will not be easy."

The Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival 2023 will take place on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 May. More info can be found at

Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival 2023
07h30 - 21km Trail Run
08h00 - 9km Trail Run

07h30 - 60km MTB
08h15 - 40km MTB
09h00 - 20km MTB
09h20 - 9km Trail Run
09h30 - 10km MTB


Photo Caption Photographer Click to download the hi-res pic

Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival Logo


A rejuvenated Daniel van der Watt is targetting the 2023 Sappi Karkloof Trail Festival for a victory on Sunday 28 May after a strong early season.

Rogan Ward /
Gameplan Media

Daniel van der Watt has enjoyed some good podium time this year and is hoping for more at the 2023 Sappi Karkloof Trail Festival on Sunday 28 May after a strong early season.

Rogan Ward /
Gameplan Media

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