The KAP Sani2c got off to an exciting start with unexpected cool weather and muddy conditions. It was a Stage One win for the DSV Pro Cycling pair Arno du Toit and Gert Heyns in 3hr 1min 7sec, while Aormakaba’s Amy McDougall and Robyn de Groot were first in the women’s race with 3:26:22.
PYGA Euro Steel’s Matthys Beukes and Phil Buys were over the line over four minutes behind team DSV in a time of 3:04:24. The 22-year-old Henry Liebenberg took the first solo rider category finishing with the PYGA Euro Steel duo (3:05:25). The third team in was Insect Science’s Brendan van Eeden and Keagan Bontekoning (3:09:45)
‘About 5km before the floating bridges at the first main climb of the day, we made it quite hard up there just testing everyone out, we thought they [Euro Steel] would be the main competition. From there on we could use our technical skills to our advantage – Sani is not known as a technical race but the mud made it hardcore technical which really suits us. I just followed Gert, he is probably the best line reader in South Africa,’ said Du Toit.
Heyns added: ‘The slippery conditions made it a bit more more exciting actually, all the trails had pretty good grip for how wet it is. It was more of a mess on the open roads and all the puddles, but we managed to power through them and it looks like we have a good gap.’
The young Insect Science team take the Young Guns (Under-23) category win and were pleased with their third place overall.
‘Very happy to be in third place. The beginning was very chilled, then it split up to about five teams, then after the first water bridge, on the climb they really started attacking and DSV got away. We rode with PYGA the whole day, they got away at a few places and then on this last climb they got a gap on us,’ said Bontekoning.
The dormakaba women powered through to the finish and were very happy to get the s win, with a nearly five-minute gap between them and the second women’s team in, Galileo Risk Infiniti’s Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph. The Absolute Demacon team of Kim le Court and Frances Janse van Rensburg were third in a time of 3:36:58.
‘We had an awesome ride out there, lovely single track and awesome trails, it’s always good to take the win. We were all together until the floating bridge; we kept it steady and got a gap from there,’ said Macdougall.
Friday’s stage takes riders 97km to Jolivet farm, with the famous descent into the Umkomaas Valley and the ‘Iconic’ climb back out.
Photo: Gert Heyns and Phil Buys by Anthony Grote