Glencairn - With two events out on the track in the Trail and the
Adventure, the 2018 KAP sani2c Race will set off from Glencairn on
Thursday as the nation's best mountain bikers tussle for the coveted
prize over the 260km between the foothills of the Southern
Drakensberg and the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal.
The prestigious title of being sani2c champions might not have a clear-cut favourite in 2018 as a number of teams have the ability to take the crown should they string together three quality days of riding.
PYGA/Euro Steel's Matthys Beukes will be teaming up with young Julian Jessop for the race and the pair has already proven their quality. They stormed to victory in the Africa jersey category at the Absa Cape Epic earlier in the year, highlighting their stage racing prowess.
The recent Old Mutual joBerg2c was proof that Beukes' form has not dipped as he rode solo to first overall through the nine days of racing.
Beukes is in line for a hat-trick of sani2c titles should he win in 2018 but with over 260 kilometres between the start and the finish there are many obstacles that have in the past curtailed riders' shot at the title.
2017's opening stage from Glencairn Farm outside Himeville to Mackenzie Club did just that for the Team NAD pair of Gawie Combrink and Nico Bell. Combrink took a hard fall and that all but ended their chances of winning the race last year and they had to settle for fourth.
This year Team NAD will have two teams on the start line with Combrink lining up with last year's second place finisher Matthew Beers while Nico Bell takes on the challenge with Wessel Botha.
These two pairs will be a thorn in the side of the PYGA/Euro Steel pairs and it could be an interesting four-horse shoot-out for the overall honours.
The fourth team involved will be the second PYGA/Euro Steel duo of Philip Buys and Phillimon Sebona.
Another team that could cause an upset or two should things go their way is the Team TIB/Silverback pair of Andrew Hill and Shaun-nick Bester.
Bester recently paired up with Declan Sidey for the joberg2c and the pair ended third in the team race.
Hill has been a consistent top 10 finisher and in 2017 managed to finish fifth with Julian Jessop. That confidence in a top five could push him and Bester into the podium positions this year.
In the ladies division it seems that there will be only one team to watch with the dormakaba duo of Samantha Sanders and Amy McDougall looking like the odds-on favourites for the crown.
McDougall recently raced the joBerg2c with Arno du Toit where they won the mixed category quite comfortably and with a second place to their name from 2017's sani2c they will only have eyes for the top step of the podium.
The mixed category will see the ITEC-Silverback pair of Yolandi de Villiers and Brandon Stewart fight it out with the Team Garmin duo of Ben Melt Swanepoel and Yolandi du Toit.
Team Garmin's Swanepoel and Du Toit finished fourth in the mixed category at the joBerg2c and will be looking to go one better than their sani2c second that they achieved in 2016 together.
On Thursday as the Race riders set off from Glencairn on stage two, the Adventure riders will be riding their second stage from Mackenzie Club to Jolivet Farm while the Trail riders will be finishing off their 2018 KAP sani2c as they take on the final stage from Jolivet to Scottburgh.