Photo by Coetzee Gouws: Kevin Evans
Sani2C, Day1, Underberg to Makenzie Club, 87km
The later date of the Sani2C race seemed to be a welcome change on the calendar, spreading out the races for us, but also giving us better weather to enjoy the beautiful routes the race has to offer. Although a bit cooler, the race would be a pleasure in dry conditions. This would also be my second race back since my crash in the Epic, but was feeling confident after a good race the previous week.
Dave and I took the racing to our competitors on the sections we knew it would count, but the bigger groups consisting of a couple teams would roll faster as a group than what the two of us would. This would also be preparation for me but my body was feeling good and the legs strong.
It always looked like it would end up in a sprint to the finish, and Dave and I managed to have the stronger kick as we powered ahead to beat MTN/Doitnow into second place, with Team RECM coming in third, just ahead of ItecConnect.
Day 2, Makenzie Club to Jolivet Farm, 97km
This is the day that mountain bikers really look forward to and keep coming back to this event. The sublime singletrack you descend into the beautiful Umkomaas valley is incredible. The slightly later start time due to the later date was also fantastic as you didn’t have to start in the dark and could actually see where you were going.
From a racing perspective, it has always been on this day that I have managed to secure the race win with the hard climbs out of the valley. And again this year was no different, as Dave and I climbed out of the valley ahead of the chasing teams. Only Team Itecconnect were ahead with us when the had some bad luck, Brandon having a puncture at a crucial moment. The compulsory stop that I was looking forward to was taken out, and after a massive effort to that point, we had a quick bottle change and had to carry on.
On the big roads we rolled fast and by the finish we had extended our lead to over 2minutes to MTN/Doitnow, and about 3minutes to Team RECM.
This would give us a good enough lead heading into the final day, bar any mishap.
Day 3, Jolivet to Scottburgh, 78km
The last day for us is usually a formality, and despite the race not being over, its usually to short for other teams to try and compete for the overall.
As we hit some of the steep climbs, Dave and I set the tempo to leave only a select group of the top three teams in front. Again only Team Itec suffered bad luck as Brandon hit a tree stump and broke a front wheel.
With about 15km left to go, and our sponsors waiting for us at the finish, feeling really good, we broke away up the last climb, pulling about a 30second gap into the two chasing teams. We hit the fast district road and after three days of dominating, ironically we lost the race here. We had a taxi driving in front of us, kicking up dust, and as we were doing around 50km/hr, the taxi obscured our vision and on a badly marked corner we missed the left hand turn, and only once we ran out of markings, did we turn around to find the route and pick up where we left off.
What I found most disappointing was the fact that the top teams saw us go wrong, but seems that in the spirit of mountain biking now, they decided to rather race full steam to the finish instead of perhaps just waiting for us to rejoin them.
Disappointing but I guess it was our mistake and one which they took full advantage of.
We were lucky to hang onto third place in the end, but there was a lot more positives to take out the race than one negative turn that cost us the win.
We are back, and my legs have returned!
My shoulder has recovered fully with no complications.
We are heading to some big European races with great form!
We have the most amazing support and sponsors, ‘Making things happen’ for us.
Next race will be the Craft Trans Germany, a four day individual and prestigious race in Germany. This forms part of a month long block that Team360life will be doing in preparation for a good World Championship at the end of June.
Hasta la pasta,
Provisional Overall results:
2nd Team RECM
3rd Team 360Life