Some ‘sani spice’ in store at the KAP sani2c Race Prologue

The KAP sani2c Race kicks off on Thursday 24 April, where,  for the first time in the 20-year history of the event, there will be a Prologue for the UCI registered riders. KAP sani2c is now a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Category 2 marathon stage race and points are allocated per rider – which means that each rider from the first team across the line will be awarded 80 points to their UCI ranking.

Andrew ‘Housty’ Houston says they have developed a challenging 16 km Prologue route with 416 metres of climbing: “I think we have delivered some ‘sani spice’ for the Prologue. It has less signature sani2c flowy trails than riders are used to, and more rocky and technical cattle trails, with some punchy climbs.

“We climb to the top of the koppie above Glencairn, and around Chep dam, and there is a beautiful section along the Pholela River. There is some beautiful gum tree singletrack, some pine tree singletrack, and we have included a some signature sani2c bridges”

Spectators can enjoy the action at Glencairn Farm from 2.30 pm on the 24th.

Insect Science’s Arno du Toit and Keagan Bontekoning are top contenders for the KAP sani2c 2024 title, but the PYGA Euro Steel team is returning with a four-rider team – Phil Buys and Pieter du Toit will certainly challenge the Insect Science skill and experience.

Also with PYGA Euro Steel is Michael Foster, the Ixopo local who grew up volunteering at sani2c with his school, who will ride with Jaedon Terlouw. Pieter du Toit, who rejoined the team this year, is feeling strong after a good ABSA Cape Epic with Buys. He says: “It’s amazing being back with the team, I was with them for five years, then away for a couple of years. It would be great to take a sani2c win with Philip this year, we came second together before. The whole team is strong, with Michael and Jaedon, that will be a big dice as well.”

Phil Buys says: “I always enjoy partnering with Pieter, he is serious enough to race and work hard, but also lighthearted enough that when things do go wrong and not according to plan, it still remains fun. Pieter has definitely matured a lot as a rider. He has always had real grit and “vasbyt”, and now he has the legs, so it makes for a lethal competitor who I am glad to have in my camp.”

Arno Du Toit says it is a pity the field is not as deep as it usually is, but the positive side is that it opens doors for the hungry youngsters to step up and make a name for themselves. He says: “PYGA having two teams, with four really strong riders, will mean that they have a lot of cards to play, a great advantage in a race like sani2c; it could get tactical really quickly. I do think having done this a few times we’ll know what’s coming, try to race aggressively accordingly, and be ready to leave everything out there.”

Terlouw and Foster, as Under 23 riders, will be strong contenders for the Young Guns category, but youngsters Jean-Pierre du Plessis and Lood Goosen (Flying Young Guns), both riding their first sani2c having turned 18, were first and second placed at the Western Cape U23 XCO and XCM respectively, and are looking to make their mark. Goosen achieved a 14th place overall at Tankwa Trek earlier this year, his first stage race.

Du Plessis says he and Goosen know each other’s strengths and weaknesses as they have been competing against each other for four years, but this is the first time they will partner: “I believe the race will be a tactical battle due to the nature of the route and the high average speed on certain sections.”

Tshenolo Adventure Racers, fielding teams in the men’s and women’s categories, have Zola Ngxakeni and Thabiso Rengane racing for the men. The Tshenolo AR team is fresh from racing the Mountain Mammoth AR, but have a depth of mountain biking experience. Rengane is a two times Cape Epic finisher, though he has not been stage racing since 2019. Ngxakeni has done five Epics and this is his third sani2c, so Rengane says he is looking to Ngcakeni’s knowledge of the route: “I’m back, and will rely on Zola’s experience. I love singletrack and he is a beast on the single track, so I will be hanging on his wheels.”

Ngxakeni is pleased to be racing again having joined Tshenolo AR since moving to Joburg: “Great to be back on the bike. Having a Prologue start at sani2c will be interesting, and we are looking forward to some fast racing. Thabiso has a strong road and mountain bike background, and we will complement each other nicely.”

In the women’s race, Sam Sanders is partering with Danielle Strydom (Efficient Infiniti Insurance), a strong pairing where Sanders’ experience and multiple sani2c wins will stand them in good stead. After a disappointing 2023 sani2c last year where illness saw her withdraw on day 1, Strydom is keen to do well for her new team.

She says: “I think my form is good. I had a break after Epic and training has gone well, so I am very excited to partner with one of the most experienced riders out there. Coming from a rocky Epic, it will be great to be on the smooth trails of sani2c again.”

Sanders is always effusive in her praise of the sani2c experience: “My favourite thing about sani2c is hands down the Umko drop. It blows my mind every year. I’m excited to ride it each year, and each year I love it!”

Hayley Smith and Janice Venter pair up as team Bell Equipment. Venter says: “There are not a lot of races where we can gain UCI points to improve our overall standing. This will definitely help with the future of racing in SA. I love sani2c. I have only done one, but I also rode the route as part of the last Joberg2c. The entire race, and the people behind the scenes are amazing, and so friendly. My form is good and I’m as strong as I can be. My partnership with Hayley is new, but I’m so excited to ride with her as she is an amazing woman, and super strong.”

Smith took tenth place overall with Sarah Hill at Cape Epic last month, winning the African Jersey. Having won the mixed category at sani2c last year, she will be confident of her knowledge of the route: “I am looking forward to teaming up with Janice at one of my favourite races on the calendar.”

Tania Bugarin Ortiz will team up with Refilwe Mogorosi for Tshenolo AR team. Shaun-Nick Bester, who coaches Bugarin Ortiz and the Tshenolo AR team, suggested the pairing in order for them both to race with the best in the UCI elite field, to gain experience and UCI points. Bugarin Ortiz has had a good racing season so far in her usual XCO discipline, but has been training to do more marathon and stage racing. This will be her first stage race and looks forward to riding the famous Unitrans Iconic Climb, feeling the amazing vibe of the communities, learning and gaining great experience. This will be Mogorosi’s first UCI race and first sani2c, though she does have stage racing experience.

Frances Janse van Rensburg raced her first sani2c in 2020 with Kim Le Court, where they finished third. She returns to ride with former semi-pro rider Bianca Haw, who has not raced for seven years. Haw is sani2c founder ‘Farmer’ Glen’s daughter, and working as part of the family organising the event, she was never available to race sani2c. Van Rensburg says her coach Johann Wykerd suggested Haw as a stage race partner: “I’ve always looked up to her, ever since I started cycling, so it is a big privilege to race with her now. I decided at the end of last year to shift focus from road racing in Europe to marathon and gravel here in SA. I am feeling strong, I have done some hard events like Tankwa Trek and the Berg 100, and all my training has been focused on this race. I’m excited to see what we can do.”

“I have had to work at sani2c, since I have been old enough to work”, laughs Haw, “but this year when Johann asked me to ride with Frances and I asked my dad, he said to me: ‘I guess your days of working at sani2c are all done,’ so now I can race. I have had six weeks to train, so I think I may be hanging on to Frances.”

The KAP sani2c Prologue is on 24 April, and the Race finishes in Scottburgh on Saturday 27 April after a further 265 kms of trails through Kwazulu-Natal farmlands, rural areas, game reserve and indigenous forests.

You can follow the race on KAP sani2c Instagram  (https://www.instagram.com/_sani2c/)

For more information visit www.sani2c.co.za

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

*