Himeville – Regular KZN stand-out marathoner Andrew Hill and stage racing newcomer Matt Beers are relishing their new pairing ahead of this year’s Nedbank sani2c mountain bike stage race which takes place from Sani Pass to Scottburgh Main Beach from 14-16 May.
Hill surged to a fourth place finish with Darren Lill in 2014’s 10th anniversary celebrations and hopes that his partnering with Beers this year will see him go at least one better and clinch a podium finish, if not the overall title, despite Beers’ stage racing abilities being somewhat unknown.
“I’m really looking forward to riding sani2c with Matt under TIB Insurance colours this year,” says Hill. “We haven’t ridden together before but we’ve raced against each other quite a bit and I’m sure we’ll go really well together.”
“Matt is one of the strongest marathon racers in South Africa at the moment. Sure his stage racing ability will be tested a bit but sani2c is so short and fast that I’m sure he’ll cope perfectly fine.
“Even if it was a full strength field I’d back Matt and I to be right up there. With a slightly watered-down field this year with all the cross country guys being overseas I’d definitely back us for a podium, maybe a stage win or two and who knows, possibly we’ll even find ourselves in the title mix as well,” he adds enthusiastically.
Hill’s build up campaign is a busy one as he and Tyronne White gear up to tackle the Old Mutual joBerg2c together on behalf of Avis Van Rental before he looks to put in yet another strong showing at the short, sharp and popular Sappi Karkloof Classic the weekend before sani2c.
“I’ve been on the bike quite a bit recently, doing a few of the shorter stage races while others were involved in the Cape Epic.
“I’ve now got joBerg2c coming up shortly, which is generally a much slower, longer grind than the short, fast nature of sani2c, but will be a good way to prepare for sani I’m sure.
“Karkloof is then on the weekend between joBerg & sani and being part of the Quattro ROAG Series I’d definitely like to try have another good on the bike there.
“More importantly though, Karkloof is a very fast 60km hit-out which hopefully will go a long way to helping me get some speed back in my legs ahead of sani!
Despite the likes of Philip Buys, James Reid, Rourke Croeser, Brendon Davids & co. not available for this year’s three day shootout due to their international cross country commitments in Europe, Hill still expects the traditional sani2c high tempo and high pressured racing style, especially on Friday’s second stage.
“Day one and two in particular are quite short and with them being pretty much downhill or flat the entire way, they are really fast stages where even just the smallest mistake can cost you your race!
“If you miss just one break or have one untimely mechanical then that can hurt your podium hopes quite severely.
“As you drop into the valley on day two, that’s when the real tactics usually start and I’m sure it will be much the same again this year even with a few of the XCO guys being away.
“Last year Arno (du Toit), Rourke (Croeser), Travis (Walker) and Brendon (Davids) really bombed their way down there and put us marathoners under quite a bit of pressure. Fortunately we were able to catch them towards the back end of the stage but I expect to see a similar flatbox style of racing again this year through there!”
The 11th edition of the Nedbank sani2c’s gets underway when the Trail event takes place from 12-14 May 2015. The Adventure then unfolds from 13-15 May before the cream of the the country’s top mountain bikers do battle during the Race from 14-16 May. More information can be found at www.sani2c.co.za