Sani2c has quickly established itself as one of South Africa’s premier mountain bike stage races. Kevin Evans once again crossed the line in first place, making it three wins from three starts, all with different partners, and this year would be no exception as he would be racing with Austrian National Champion Alban Lakata (Topeak Ergon racing) as preparation for the upcoming Cape-Epic.
Stage 1, 95km Underberg to Mackenzie
Once again at the Sani2c, the weather was not playing along, and torrential rains the day before the race, plus the thousand or so Adventure riders that would churn the trails up in front, would make for some really hectic conditions. And it would only get worse as the weather was not about to clear any time soon.
With the wet conditions on Stage 1 it would be important to look after yourself and equipment. As usual the race split up after the first singletrack, and then onto the climb. Kevin Evans and Alban Lakata saw some of the other teams taking strain and decided to make the climb hard. At the top it was only team DCM (Max Knox and Brandon Stewart) left with Team MTN. The two teams worked well together and gradually increased their lead over the other teams. Although the two teams tested each other, it came down to a sprint finish. Alban was too strong for the DCM duo as Team MTN powered away to win the stage. Third on the stage went to Specialized/Mr Price’s Burry Stander and Ben-Melt Swanepoel, about 8minutes behind.
Stage 2, 97km Mackenzie to Jolliviet
Conditions only got worse on the second day as farmer Glen and his team were forced to have to re-route the course, unfortunately missing out on the 30km descend into the Umkimaas Valley via Nics Pass, normally the highlight of the race. The change took the riders straight down the district roads into the valley. However this was just as dangerous as poor visibility and an incredible amount of mud made the going really scary! The race rejoined the normal race route as the riders went down the valley into the “mamba downhill”, and headed towards the halfway compulsory stop at the top of “lamb legs”. Alban and Kevin set a hard tempo up the climb and by the top they had managed to make 1min25 on their DCM rivals. In the last 35km Team MTN worked incredibly hard and crossed the finish line a good 5min30 ahead of DCM, Specialized/Mr Price taking third again on the day. As the mud-cacked riders crossed the finish line it was evident that the backup crews would have their work cut out for them.
Stage 3, 78km Joliviet to Scottborough
With a good lead going into the last stage, there was no pressure on Team MTN other than to follow the wheels of their rivals. However, DCM were not taking any prisoners and set a tempo that was too hard for all except Alban and Kevin to follow. As the leaders began the final climb to the finish line they could see Team Specialized and the second Team MTN coming. Paul Cordes and Adrien Niyonshuti from Team MTN managed a second on the stage ahead of Team Specialized who took third again, as Kevin and Alban consolidated their overall victory.
As expected, Yolandé Speedy and Mariska Strauss (MTN-Energade) were the women’s winners claiming all three stage victories on their way to the overall win.
Carla Rowley (BSG Biogen) and Renier Bellingham were the leaders in the category for mixed teams
|1 – Alban Lakata||Kevin Evans|
|2 – Max Knox||Brandon Stewart|
|3 – BENMELT SWANEPOEL||BURRY STANDER|
|4 – PETER SMITH||Craig Paul|
|5 – Marc Bassingthwaighte||Mannie Heymans|
|6 – Paul Cordes||Adrien Niyonshuti|
|7 – David Leiman||Roan Exelby|
|8 – Cornell van der Westhuizen||Damian Booth|
|9 – Andrew mclean||Shan Wilson|
|10 – Gary Marescia||Adrian Enthoven|