South African Olympic cycling hopeful James Reid emerged triumphant as champion of the 5th TransHajar Mountain Bike Race this week, and headed to the podium accompanied by two of his compatriots in the men’s category.

Reid finished 12 minutes 58 seconds ahead of Max Knox in second place and Kevin Evans in third.

Though final day of racing saw the international field of pro and amateur riders take on a fast and predominantly flat stage, competitors still had to face a 250m vertical ascent climb as well as a 400m climb to the finish line.

“The race totally blew my mind,” said Reid. “It was something out of this world – the setting and environment we camped in and the daily stages we went on; every day there was something different: from lost cities to incredible 20km climbs and breath-taking views.”

Britain’s Catherine Williamson won the Women’s Category 33 minutes and 55 seconds ahead of Hungary’s Eszter Dosa and South Africa’s Hannele Steyn, last year’s winner.

Catherine said, “It was an amazing week with tough riding in tough conditions. We’ve had lots of climbing but there’s been lots of varied, some single track, open roads, technical descends and rocky climbs. Anyone out there who wants to get some sunshine should definitely come and do this race.”

This year’s race over a 400km route was completely redesigned to provide a more challenging experience for competitors and to incorporate canyons, wadis, river-crossings and traditional Omani villages with short sprints, steep climbs and rugged single track.

It began in the breath-taking surroundings of Jebel Shams, Arabia’s highest peak (3,028m).