Mackenzie Club - The best elite mountain bike riders in South Africa set off from Himeville on Thursday morning for stage one of the 2017 KAP sani2c, a stage that was full of intensity and surprises as PYGA Euro Steel's Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys took the overall win while the underdog-duo of Valencia Lady's Sam Sanders and Amy Mcdougall grabbed the women’s honours.
The PYGA Euro Steel duo, who were the form pairing going into the 2017 showpiece event, showed their mettle and strength to shrug off the chasing combinations and open up a handy 44-second lead going into the notoriously tough second stage on Friday.
"Our plan was to put the hammer down after the final water point up that little kicker," Philip Buys mentioned after their stage win.
"We then got a slight gap going into the trails and then we just put our heads down all the way to the finish.
"Racing always hurts but we are happy to take the win today."
Buys and Beukes' pedigree and current form will be worrying for the chasing teams but with some tough racing ahead of them the duo feel that the other teams are under the pump chasing them to the coast.
"We don't really feel pressure," Beukes said. "The other guys have got the work to do to try and close the gap to us and we made sure that we didn't push too hard today, so we have a lot in the tank.
"We know that tomorrow is going to be tough and we took it easy for the first 60km today and then threw one punch on Bowman's climb and then consolidated from there on."
The men's race was not devoid of drama as the NAD Pro MTB team of Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck came unstuck when the latter took a tumble which cost them valuable time and the opportunity to claim a stage victory.
"The PYGA guys picked up the pace after the second water point and we were able to keep up with them.
"The fall for Gawie obviously didn't come at the right time for us and we were hurting a bit towards the end.
"Hopefully the damage to Gawie is nothing too serious ahead of another massive day tomorrow!
"The rain and the weather is going to be a factor tomorrow but there is just as much luck involved and we are hoping that the luck can go our way from tomorrow," Bell added.
The Team BCX pair of Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger came home in third overall, just a few seconds behind the NAP Pro pair. They are in turn are about a minute ahead of the Ryder RED E Spot Africa duo of Matthew Beers and Tim Hammond while the Durban-based Team TIB combination of Andrew Hill and Julian Jessop ended fifth.
The women’s race was full of excitement as pre-race favourites, Team Ascendis Health's Robyn de Groot and Mariska Strauss, struggled with punctures which put the brakes on their push for a stage win.
The laid-back Valencia Ladies pair of Samantha Sanders and Amy-Beth Mcdougall were motivated to put the rest of the women's field to the sword once they managed to get ahead of the chasing pairs.
"It is nice to be underestimated," Sanders said at Mackenzie Club.
"We didn't have any pressure on us coming into the race so we could just go out there and enjoy ourselves.
"The track today really suited Amy and I in the sense that we are both technically very fast on the trails.
"I don't know what happened to Robyn and Mariske, but I am glad that we were able to get away from them and win the stage."
The second stage of the sani2c on Friday has the potential to be an epic encounter, however the weather is going to be a defining factor as the riders aim for Jolivet.
"We are just going to take each day as it comes and we don't really feel too much pressure," Mcdougall commented.
"It is nice to have a bit of a buffer, but we are just going to take it as it comes because the other girls will be chasing hard."
The defending champions, the dormakaba team of Candice Lill (neé Neethling) and Vera Adrian, are just over a minute behind the Valencia pair and in a good position to pounce on the testing second stage.
Dormakaba hold a nine minute advantage over the third placed Team Ascendis Health pair meaning that they can focus their energy on catching the leading ladies rather than fighting off the team in third place.
2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympian James Reid and Mari Rabie (Private Client Holdings) hold the cards in the mixed category with a minute advantage over Bluff Meat Supplies' Trevor Rowe and Robyn Price, with Omnico Team's Sanet and Dana Coetzee third.
The second stage takes riders from the overnight stop at Mackenzie Club to Jolivet. The stage takes riders down into the Umkomaas valley and then out via the new Iconic Climb. The 96km stage is known as the toughest of the race and with some inclement weather predicted it will be a tough task for all.
For more information on KAPsani2c: Info@KAPsani2c.co.za or www.sani2c.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - KAP sani2c 2017 (Stage One: Glencairn to Mackenzie Club)
1.PYGA Euro Steel (Philip Buys/Matthys Beukes) 02:47.56
2.NAD Pro MTB (Gawie Combrinck/Nico Bell) 02:48.40
3.Team BCX (Waylon Woolcock/HB Kruger) 02:48.49
4.Ryder RED E Spot Africa (Matthew Beers/Tim Hammond) 02:49.55
5.Team TIB (Andrew Hill/Julian Jessop) 02:51.43
6.Ballito Bicycling Company (Pieter Seyffert/Andrew Johnson) 02:57.04
7.Home Ice Cream (Matthew Stamatis/Thomas Jessop) 02:58.58
8.William Simpson (Derrin Smith/Michael Posthumus) 02:59.25
9.Urban Fitness Outdoor (Jonathan Cloete/Nicholas Porteous) 02:59.48
10.think 360 (Leeroy Emslie/Jason Davies) 03:00.26
11.KAPRestonic 13 (Craig Uria/Andrew Duvenhage) 03:00.31
12.Bells Cycling (Declan Sidey/JP Jung) 03:02.38
13.Business Print (Andrew Cairns/Fanie Venter) 03:05.28
14.Revolution Cycles (Brenan Anderson/David Cooke) 03:07.00
15.Lge Midas/Slender Wonder (Igna de Villiers/Paul Theron) 03:07.10
1.Valencia Ladies (Samantha Sanders/Amy Mcdougall) 03:07.38
2.dormakaba (Candice Lill/Vera Adrian) 03:08.46
3.Team Ascendis Health (Robyn de Groot/Mariska Strauss) 03:18.10
4.Galileo Risk Velocity (Carmen Buchacher/Theresa Ralph) 03:20.20
5.KAP Safipol 1 (Anli Smith/Tamaryn Kietzmann) 03:55.32
1.Private Client Holdings (James Reid/Mari Rabie) 03:14.06
2.Bluff Meat Supplies (Trevor Rowe/Robyn Price) 03:15.13
3.Omnico Team (Sanet Coetzee/Dana Coetzee) 03:20.53
4.Cycle Nation-Bring it On (Tijl van de Winkel/Joanna van de Winkel) 03:26.39
5.Bell Equipment (Darryn Purtell/Hayley Smith) 03:31.10