Himeville – Double mixed title winner Erik Kleinhans and 2013 men’s race winner Nico Bell are looking forward to returning to the trails of the Nedbank sani2c come 14-16 May 2015 as they look to right the ‘wrongs’ of last year’s contest.
Towards the back end of last year’s race’s second stage Kleinhans and Bell were just a few seconds back from race leaders Kevin Evans and Max Knox when a high speed crash saw Kleinhans take a nasty fall that left him out of action for three months after tearing all the ligaments in his shoulder.
A year on though and Kleinhans’ injury is a thing of the past however the RECM duo are eager to return to the popular race and challenge for the overall spoils once more.
“There is definitely a bit of unfinished business for us – me in particular – after last year!” confirms Kleinhans. “The motivation levels are always high for a race like sani and you don’t really need extra motivation at all but we’re definitely coming back looking for a win this year!”
“Erik’s crash last year not only ended our race but it put him out of another six races so it will be great to get back out there and hopefully we can get a good result this year,” adds Bell. “I’ve also been struggling a bit to get results recently so it would be great to do well at sani from that point of view as well!”
Since riding as eventual winners Jaroslav Kulhavy and Christoph Sauser’s support crew in this year’s Absa Cape Epic, Bell and Kleinhans have enjoyed some time off the bike in recent months.
Last weekend’s Clarens leg of the Ashburton National MTB Series however sent them hurtling back into full swing as this year’s sani2c and the South African Marathon Championships loom on the horizon.
“I struggled a bit at Clarens but that was the start of a big three week block for me ahead of sani and then I’ve got another three week block of training before SA Marathon Champs which is the next big assignment after sani,” says Kleinhans.
“I’m really looking forward to this year’s sani2c; I’ve won the mixed doubles title but never the men’s so I’d love to do that!”
While Knox and Evans (Biogen/Volcan) return as defending champions, some are questioning their build-up to this year’s race which has seen a few label Kleinhans and Bell as the pre-race favourites.
The Western Cape pair are however paying little attention to the pre-race chatter and feel their nearest rivals will in fact come from other sources.
“I’m sure Max (Knox) will be strong but I think Kevin will be the weak link in the team,” explains Bell.
“If Darren (Lill) and Waylon (Woolcock) are there this year then I’m sure they’ll be right up there,” adds Kleinhans. “Gawie (Combrinck) and Johann (Rabie) are also going really well at the moment and I’m sure will be strong contenders again while Andrew Hill is also always a challenger on home turf!”
While Kleinhans and Bell go in search of the men’s title, RECM ladies pair Ariane Kleinhans and Cherise Stander will also being doing battle for the women’s crown.
“The girls are really motivated to do well!” says Kleinhans. “Ariane is in great shape and Cherise proved in Clarens that she is able to do really well at this level!”
“Hopefully it can be a really good three days on the bike for both our teams!” he adds.
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