Mackenzie Club - Stage one of the 2019 KAP sani2c dished up all the expected excitement as DSV Pro Cycling's Arno du Toit and Gert Heyns won an end-sprint to take the stage honours ahead of PYGA Euro Steel's Matthys Beukes and Phil Buys while dormakaba's Sam Sanders and Robyn de Groot claimed ladies honours on Thursday.
It was a frenetic day of racing as the usual suspects flew out of the blocks after the neutral zone with PYGA Euro Steel's two teams, DSV Pro Cycling, NAD Pro MTB's Matt Beers and Stuart Marais, Darkhorse Wheel’s Andrew Hill and Shaun-Nick Bester and Imbuko Giant Pro Cycling's Nicol Carstens and Marco Joubert setting the pace.
As the day lengthened so did the gaps with DSV, PYGA Euro Steel and NAD Pro managing to create a bit of daylight over the rest and they battled it out for line honours through the rest of the stage.
It was a tough day for Beers and Marais though as they spent a lot of the second half of the stage hanging on to the leading two teams. They fell off the back in the lead up to the line and have a 19 second deficit to overturn on the second stage.
"It was a pretty quick stage from the start but we expected the PYGA guys to race more aggressively," Arno du Toit said after the stage win.
"They were quite conservative and that worked well for us, them and the NAD Pro guys but we are really happy to pull off the stage win in the end."
The DSV duo finished second at 2018’s race and are itching to go one better this year. Despite not having a gap going into the 'Queen Stage' on Friday they are happy with the position that they are in after stage one.
"Tomorrow is a much longer stage and it will be easier to open up gaps which we are looking forward to," Heyns said.
"This is a big event for us and we would love to win it. I have won it once before but I would love to do it with Arno!"
Du Toit added that they were in a good space after the first stage.
"We are feeling pretty confident and we achieved what we wanted to do on stage one with no time gaps but we are going to need to be positive and confident on Friday."
It is going to be another enthralling day on Friday with the PYGA Euro Steel team breathing down their necks throughout and Beukes and Buys will be hungry to win back the title they relinquished in 2018.
"Gert and Arno were quick today and we were happy that we didn’t lose any time," Beukes said.
"Friday is a huge stage and to be neck-and-neck going into it is exciting."
Buys missed out on the KAP sani2c in 2018 and is excited that he can be on the front and fighting it out for another title.
"It's hard racing but it is great to be back racing at the sharp end of the sani2c!
"The first stage is always really fast and I think that on Friday we will start to see some more gaps opening up. It's going to be a big one and we are looking forward to the challenge," Buys mentioned.
The ladies race leaders surprised themselves more than anyone else when they powered home to the stage win.
The dormakaba duo of Sanders and De Groot came of varying lay-offs but put that aside as they took the ladies race by the scruff of the neck, despite not exerting themselves too much.
"We rode at a tempo within ourselves and I didn't have any expectations when we started this morning," Sanders said.
"We just wanted to see how the legs felt and Robs has been off the bike for six months, but she was really strong!
"It's cool to have a lead but there are still two long days of racing ahead of us."
De Groot looked like she hadn't been off a bike at all and the smile never left her face throughout. For her it was just a pleasure to be back racing.
"I spent a lot of the day just taking it in and looking around because I missed the race last year and I really enjoyed riding with Sam.
"I felt really good but we will find out on Friday! I am surprised how I felt and I really enjoyed myself.
"From Sam and I we just want to wish Amy (McDougall) well for her recovery after surgery," De Groot commented.
Galileo Risk's Theresa Ralph and Sarah Hill were the second ladies team across the line just over four minutes behind the leaders and the Bell Equipment duo of Hayley Smith and Desiree Verwey finished in third.
Cycle Nation - Sandton City's Joanna and Tilj van de Winkel were the first mixed team over the line and hold a five minute advantage over the chasing pair of Sanet Coetzee and Martin van der Westhuizen.
The second stage of the 2019 KAP sani2c takes riders 97km from Mackenzie Club to Jolivet.
2019 SUMMARY OF RESULTS - Stage One (Glencairn to Mackenzie Club)
1.DSV Pro Cycling (Arno du Toit/Gert Heyns) 02:49:57
2.PYGA Euro Steel One (Matthys Beukes/Phil Buys) 02:49:58
3.NAD Pro MTB Team (Matt Beers/Stuart Marais) 02:50:17
4.PYGA Euro Steel Two (Phillimon Sebona/Pieter du Toit) 02:51:05
5.Darkhorse Wheels Insured by TIB (Andrew Hill/Shaun-Nick Bester) 02:51:44
6.Imbuko Giant Pro Cycling (Nicol Carstens/Marco Joubert) 02:52:46
7.Team First Ascent (Luke Evans/Alexander Rohrer) 02:58:59
8.SAI COM (Andrew Mclean/Dawid Cooke) 02:59:56
9.Honey Badgers 2 (Andrew Mark Johnson/Andrew Cairns) 3:00:47
10.dormakaba Mens (Anthony Derrin Smith/Michael Posthumus) 03:01:36
1.dormakaba Women (Sam Sanders/Robyn de Groot) 03:12:54
2.Galileo Risk (Theresa Ralph/Sarah Hill) 03:16:58
3.Bell Equipment (Hayley Smith/Desiree Verwey) 03:39:08
4.Team Bestmed (Kristen Louw/Danielle Strydom) 03:47:53
5.Maharg-n-Derf (Simone Jacobs/Jean Meyer) 04:05:56
1.Cycle Nation - Sandton City (Joanne van de Winkel/Tijl van de Winkel) 03:18:22
2.Ryder Innovation (Sanet Coetzee/Martin van der Westhuizen) 03:23:42
3.Tantigatti 1 (Callan Sexton/Fiddy gey van Pittius) 03:26:06