Knox is back to defend sani2c title

2012-05-16 00:00

DEFENDING champion Max Knox will team up with two-time former winner Mannie Heymans as they take on the BoE Private Clients’ three-day sani2c, which starts at Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal tomorrow.

Knox — who heads the National Mountain Bike Marathon Series after five of the eight rounds — and his Namibian partner will be up against joBerg2c winners and pre-race favourites Kevin Evans and David George.

Both teams are on good form following the MTN series race at Mabalingwe on Saturday, which saw Knox finish runner-up to George with Evans placing fourth.

“Obviously they’ve got good form at the moment and, barring a disaster, will be the outright favourites,” said Knox.

The 25-year-old was gifted a win alongside Adrien Niyonshuti last year when Evans and George overshot a turn on the final day.

“We won last year, but that was last year. Everyone starts afresh on equal footing so anything can happen.”

Last year’s runners-up Neil MacDonald and Waylon Woolcock — who won two stages of the recent joBerg2c en route to finishing second overall — won’t be on the starting line following a heavy crash at Mabalingwe by the former, which left him with a broken collarbone and fractured wrist.

Those who count themselves among the favourites will, however, face another set of challengers in the form of former South African cross-country champion Brandon Stewart, who exchanges regular partner Jacques Rossouw for last year’s national road champion Darren Lill.

Knox said he and 40-year-old former African champion Heymans, who quit professional cycling a year ago, would still be riding competitively, but were realistically aiming for a top-five finish.

As former winners, the Sabie resident said he and his Windhoek-based partner looked forward to sharing their accumulated knowledge with the social riders at the event.

“We’re going to have a good time with every­one and give back to the event in any way that we can.”

Knox said he was very happy to be riding with the former Olympian. “He’s got a lot more years of experience and a better understanding of racing than I do.”

He said the consistency of his own performances in the countrywide series thus far boded well ahead of the race.

“In the last three races I’ve been second twice and won once, so three podiums out of the last three starts is pretty cool for me.”

In the women’s race, two-time joBerg2c winners Ischen Stopforth and Catherine Williamson will team up for their first crack at the title.

They will face stiff competition from Theresa Ralph and Karien van Jaarsveld.

Erik and Ariane Kleinhans will be aiming for a trifecta of wins in the mixed category of major stage races, following runaway victories at the Cape Epic and joBerg2c.

Visit www.sani2c.co.za for more info.

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