The 18th edition of the KAP Sani2c got off to an exciting start as the top three teams contested a thrilling sprint to decide the stage podium positions on the 82km leg from Glencairn near Underberg to Mackenzie Country Club near Ixopo on Thursday.

The top three teams stuck together and shared a sprint finish, while solo rider, Marc Pritzen pushed ahead to cross the finish line first in a time of 02:54:40. But the main event is the team race and Insect Science’s Arno du Toit and Keagan Bontekoning took first place in a time of 02:55:07. Marco Joubert from Imbuko{type}DEV crossed the line ahead of the pair, but Joubert’s partner Wessel Botha was behind them and Gert Heyns from PYGA Euro Steel. Heyns’s partner Phil Buys was just behind Botha, giving PYGA Euro Steel a third place for the stage (02:55:08).

Arno du Toit (left) and Keagan Bontekoning of Insect Science won Stage 1 of the 2022 KAP Sani2c

The top three men’s teams and Honeycomb Pro Cycling rider, Pritzen, were together for what each team described as highly tactical racing throughout the day. No one team managed to break away at any point until the finish. About 500m from the finish Bontekoning made the break and ensured the win for him and Du Toit, despite a very strong sprint from Joubert.

Du Toit says: “On that first gravel road it was fairly chilled today, I think nice and controlled. A nice new piece of singletrack almost caught us off guard and mixed the racing up a bit early on, but we all got back together. And then over the first real climb we actually missed the front. We had Marc Pritzen as a solo rider disrupting it a bit but we just kept our heads down and got back to them just before the first waterpoint, and it was all together then. From then it was pretty much a tactical thing. We knew we just had to save energy and pace ourselves and in the end I think Keegan read the race quite nicely. He made a move nice and early and I just sat there and made sure I was the first of the second riders across the line.”

Phil Buys of Pyga EuroSteel leads the front pack on a climb during Stage 1 of the 2022 KAP Sani2c

Bontekoning: “We saw at the start that we were quite a strong match compared to the other teams. I think PYGA Euro Steel went off at the first attack and they felt they couldn’t hold the pace, so that kind of sat it up a little bit. We managed to ride back on and then it went very tactical, and we just saved ourselves and stayed out of the wind as much as we could. This year it wasn’t so fast coming into the finish so I decided to do an early move and leave it up to Arno to bring it home.”

Marco Joubert: “That was a super tactical race. I think everyone gave their two cents to try and get away but it just wasn’t meant to be I guess. Then the last 500 metres this sprint opened up and once you start sprinting you can’t stop. There is no time gap so it will be hard, I think the race will be decided tomorrow.”

 

Phil Buys of Pyga EuroSteel leads Marc Pritzen of Honeycomb Pro Cycling and Wessel Both of Imbuko Type Dev during Stage 1 of the 2022 KAP Sani2c

Botha says: “It’s always a bit tactical racing sani2c, and super fast with no real big climbs on Day 1. A few guys shot some moves, but nothing really stuck. It was a tactical finish, coming down to the sprint, we’re looking forward to the next day. I think tomorrow’s day is definitely where the race gets won or lost – we will have to put the pressure on and try and split for us.”

Buys says: “I think early in the race we started getting a small gap, but when the group came together we sort of took it easy until that last water point (at 66km) –  that’s usually when the fireworks start. It was close racing. The first day is always close. So I think tomorrow is a big day,  I didn’t want to overexert today, those last ten, fifteen minutes hurt, so it’s now about getting some good recovery in and then we’ll go again tomorrow.”

Heyns says: “I think we’re both still feeling quite good. I think everyone will still have something for tomorrow. Tomorrow’s a big day and I’m sure it’ll split up tomorrow.”

Robyn de Groot (left) and Kim Le Court of Efficient Infiniti Insure won Stage 1 of the 2022 KAP Sani2c

WOMEN’S RACE

The two Efficient Infiniti Insure teams had very different days on the bike with Sam Sanders experiencing technical issues with her bike early on and then slipping on the PG Bison bridge and falling into the water. Robyn de Groot and Kim Le Court were clearly the dominant team though and came across the line at Mackenzie in 3 hours, 28 minutes and 43 seconds, nearly 19 minutes ahead of their teammates.

Le Court says: “I thoroughly enjoyed it. Robyn was super supportive along the route, always asking if I’m feeling okay. I was the one who was in the hurt box, but I love being in the hurt box.”

Asked about De Groot’s mentorship role, Le Court says: “Robyn and I chatted a lot before the race and she gave me a lot of tips, making me consider situations I had not thought about. It opened my eyes for the next few days and the next few stage races coming in the future. I’m looking forward to the next couple of days.”

Asked if this will be her last KAP sani2c, De Groot says: “I’ll probably do sanis in the future but not in the racing category. I’m definitely in a bit of a transition phase in my career.”

She says she may race with Kim again later in the year depending on how things work out and if she can keep her fitness up.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the trails, it’s just such fun riding – not a lot of time on gravel road and the trails are in really good condition this year. I’ve actually struggled to train for this but then when you hit the singletrack you find your passion on the trails.”

South Africa’s most successful female marathon racer, Robyn de Groot enjoys Stage 1 of the 2022 KAP Sani2c

After a disappointing day, Sanders was still in good spirits: “I had a bit of a mechanical with my gears when shifting so I didn’t have all my gears, and I managed to fall off the bridge and go swimming but you know, we just laughed it off and finished the stage with a smile, and tomorrow’s another day. Anything can happen to anyone; we’ll give it another go tomorrow.”

In third place in the women and the first Young Guns Women across the line, were Jone van Eeden and Karlise Scheepers of Team SkyNet Kleinplaas Pype (03:59:35).

The race is being broadcast live on the KAP sani2c Instagram: _sani2c

LEADING RESULTS

Stage 1 and GC:

MEN

1 Insect Science 1 (Arno du Toit/Keagan Bontekoning) 02:55:07

2 Imbuko{type}DEV A (Marco Joubert/Wessel Botha) 02:55:07

3 PYGA Euro Steel (Philip Buys/Gert Heyns) 02:55:08

4 Valley Electrical Titan Racing (HB Kruger/Matthew Keyser) 03:02:09

5 Imbuko{type}DEV B (Stuart Marais/Franko van Zyl) 03:02:33

6 Insect Science 2 (Alan Gordon/Herman Fourie) 03:08:46

WOMEN

1 Efficient Infiniti Ensure (Robyn de Groot/Kim Le Court) 03:28:43

2 Efficient Infiniti Ensure (Sam Sanders/Theresa Ralph) 03:47:42

3 SkyNet/Kleinplaas Pype (Jone van Eeden/Karlise Scheepers) 03:58:55

SOLO MEN

1 Marc Pritzen (Honeycomb Pro Cycling) 02:54:40

2 Trevor Rowe 03:11:20

3 Pressmore Musundi (PYGA Euro Steel) 03:13:04

MIXED TEAMS

1 Neville Rosenstein/Lizle Rosenstein (Rosies) 03:50:42

2 Steph Wolters/Abri Kuhn (Bester Performance Racing) 03:59:35

Source: Maryann Shaw Communications

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