After 2020 saw a number of shake-ups amongst South Africa’s professional mountain bikers, many have settled into new teams and are ready to race KAP sani2c next month. The organisers are delighted to be hosting the usual sani2c magic, both for those looking for the ride of their lives, and for the professional teams who had very little racing last year.
Arno du Toit (left) and Gert Heyns cross the finish line first as team DSV Pro Cycling at the 2020 KAP sani2c. Both are riding with new teams this year. Photo by Anthony Grote.
The KAP sani2c is one of the oldest, and a much-loved three-day mountain bike stage race, offering 263kms of spectacular trails between Himeville in the southern Drakensberg and Scottburgh on the South Coast in KwaZulu-Natal. Two versions of the three-day event take place over four days.
Dates for May 2021 facilitate shifted start days so that the Race finishes on a Sunday. The Adventure is from Thursday 13 to Saturday 15 May, and The Race is from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 May. Many of SA’s elite riders have confirmed their entries.
Gert Heyns and Arno du Toit took first place at the December 2020 KAP sani2c as DSV Pro Cycling, and both have since joined other established teams, PYGA Euro Steel and Insect Science respectively. The PYGA Euro Steel team now comprises Matthys Beukes, Philip Buys, Gert Heyns and Pieter du Toit, yet to announce the pairings for sani2c.
Team manager Ruan Lochner: “We really look forward to the 2021 sani2c, it’s one of our highlights for the year. We’ve done the past five sani2c races and were on the podium each year, so we are familiar with what it takes to perform at the top level there. This year we’ll have two strong teams racing for the top spots. With SA marathon champs just two weeks prior to the start of sani2c, all the teams on the start line will be in good shape. It will definitely be an exciting and strongly contested race.”
Matt Beers, who is is riding with Wessel Botha for Team TypeDev NanoTime, is no stranger to the podium at sani2c and was a notable absentee at the 2020 sani2c. He says: “It is Wessel’s first time racing the event and I think it suits him extremely well, so we have a good chance.”
For Insect Science, Arno du Toit will be paired with Keagan Bontekoning who placed third with guest team member Brendan van Eeden at December’s sani2c. Other pro men’s teams include Umbuko Giant (Marco Joubert and Rudi Koen), Valley Electrical Titan Racing (Marc Fourie and Rob Hobson), and the new signings for DSV Pro Cycling, Nicol Carstens and Jacques Janse van Rensburg.
In the women’s race, the favourites are bound to be the Galileo Infiniti SPOT team. Theresa Ralph (who came second overall last year with Sarah Hill), will pair with new team member Kim le Court, who placed third with Frances Janse van Rensburg in December.
Theresa Ralph at the 2020 KAP sani2c. Photo by Anthony Grote.
Theresa Ralph says: “I’ve got a really good partner in Kim, the youngster, who is up and coming in the mountain bike arena – she has always been a roadie and has had phenomenal results on the road. Now she is focused on mountain biking and she is going for that podium. She is fit at the moment; we raced each other recently and she was hot on my heels, so riding as a pair is going to be really good.
Fingers crossed the weather holds this year, as I am so looking forward to that middle day, dropping down the Umko and putting down the watts at the bottom. I’m also looking forward to going up the Iconic Climb, as it’s a real test.”
Danielle Strydom (previous winner of the Young Guns category at sani2c), who has joined the Insect Science team, will ride with guest team member Janice Venter. Other pro entries are yet to be finalised.
Founder of KAP sani2c, ‘Farmer’ Glen Haw, says: “We look forward to another May sani2c; we have our usual level of hospitality planned and the trails are looking good. After 16 years, our trails are well established and the key to enjoying the event is that the faster you go, the more technical it becomes to ride.
“Those who want to have a fun three days on the bike with the scenic beauty of trails that you can only ride during this event, can do so knowing that sani2c is a doable event if you are fit and have some technical skills. You can leave the racing to the elite riders and experience the best three days of mountain biking available in SA.”
COVID-19 protocols will be in place and social distancing will be encouraged. Screening will be conducted and a contact register will record all attendees’ details. Batches will be smaller and 25 teams per batch will set off each day.
The Solo category was introduced in 2020 and remains an option, but as Farmer Glen says, the sani2c is focused on being a team event: “There are so many reasons that sani2c is enjoyed best as a team event, not least of which is the fact that it is a challenging event over three days, and as a team each rider can be supported when the other is having a tough time of it.
The famous descent into the Umkomaas Valley on Day 2 of the KAP sani2c. Photo by Kelvin Trautman
“E-bikes are also encouraged, but we urge e-bike riders to come to enjoy the fun of the trails of sani2c, and not to race,” says Farmer Glen.
The Adventure is full, but a few entries are available for the Race, until the closing date of Monday 3 May.
Enter at www.sani2c.co.za
Source: Press release via Maryann Shaw Communications