Sani2c duo win by a second

2013-05-17 00:00

AFTER a run of bad luck this season, Charles Keey and Darren Lill finally got the break they needed to claim the opening stage of the three-day Sani2c mountain bike race near Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday.

The Cannondale-Blend duo timed it perfectly to hold off all contenders in a bunch sprint to the finish, taking the 87 km stage from Underberg to MacKenzie Club in 2:47:10.

They were followed home a second later by Waylon Woolcock and Lourens Luus of RE:CM, with Louis-Bresler Knipe and Gert Heyns of Contego-Giant a further second adrift.

“It’s really nice for Charles and I because we’ve both been sick and had a bad run at Epic and joBerg2c, so this win has been a long time coming,” said Lill.

He said the presence of at least half a dozen strong teams had made the racing a lot more tactical and the pace had varied accordingly.

“It was a lot more like a road race, actually,” said the former national road champion.

Keey, who finished second last year alongside James Reid, said the racing had split on the Oak Maze dual track within the first 12 km.

“It regrouped a bit after that and then we went into another bit of single track through the trees.”

Climbing out of that section, the decisive move came on the tough View Climb — the highest point on the event.

The top six teams — including Max Knox and Nico Bell (EIA-Westvaal), Brandon Stewart and Neil MacDonald (FedGroup-Itec), and Andrew Hill and Leeroy Emslie (TIB) — shook off the chasers as they powered up the ascent. They stayed together over the PG Bison floating bridge at the 30 km mark and through both waterpoints, with Keey taking the lead into the final uphill drag to the finish.

“We were positioned fairly well. Charles hit out at the right time, just as the hill crested, and kept it going all the way to the line,” said Lill.

“I was just following the right wheels and I could see by the time we got to this grass finish that we were going to take it.”

In the women’s race, the stage victory went to Ischen Stopforth and Olympic road racer Robyn de Groot, riding in the colours of Biogen, in 3:07:45. They came home almost two minutes ahead of Stopforth’s former bizhub partner Catherine Williamson — with whom she won last year — and Yolandi du Toit in 3:09:37. FedGroup-Itec’s Bridgette Stewart and Jackie Moore finished a distant third in 3:36:55.

De Groot, competing in her maiden Nedbank Sani2c, said it was great to be riding with the seasoned Stopforth, but added their lead was far from secure. “A minute or two isn’t much in mountain biking.”

Two-time Absa Cape Epic and Old Mutual joBerg2c champions Erik and Ariane Kleinhans of RE:CM once again showed world-class form by winning the mixed category in 2:57:38. They were followed by Educos duo Taygan Robson and Samantha Sanders in 3:09:38, with Sweden’s Jennie Stenerhag and Nizaam Esa of Asrin Cycling third in 3:11:42.

Today, the gruelling 99 km second stage from Ixopo to Jolivet farm near Highflats features a spectacular descent into the Umkomaas River Valley and 2 288 metres of climbing.

The race, which is presented by Nedbank Private Wealth, wraps up with a world-first floating bridge finish into the sea at Scottburgh’s main beach tomorrow.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.