Underberg – With little over six weeks to go until the starter’s gun fires and sends participants of the 2015 Nedbank sani2c on their way, defending champions Kevin Evans and Max Knox have confirmed they will be back again in an attempt to retain their title.
The eleventh edition of the hugely popular three day mountain biking stage race from Glencairn Farm in Underberg to Scottburgh Main Beach on KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast gets underway on 12 May when the Trail event commences and is hotly followed by the start of the Adventure a day later.
The sport’s racing snakes take to the trails for the first time on Thursday 14 May and will come home in front of a sizeable crowd in Scottburgh on Saturday 16 May with Biogen-Volcan’s pairing of Evans and Knox eager to ensure it is them who reach this point fastest.
“In the ten years of the sani2c’s existence, Kevin (Evans) has won it six times and myself three!” explains 27 year-old Knox.
“There has only been one year since the start of this prestigious race that at least one of us haven’t stood on the podium so it’s definitely a race we enjoy and are keen to do well in again in 2015!”
Knox believes the pair’s unrivalled success at the event means the pressure usually associated with the defending champions label is significantly reduced.
“We’ve won it before and there’s no real pressure for us to get number seven or number four respectively.
“We can afford to a bit more laid back in the build up to this year’s event and let the others worry about the racing ahead of time.
“Come race day, we’ll definitely be looking to defend our title though!”
The sani2c carries added sentimental importance for Knox who has close family ties to the race’s start town in the Southern Drakensberg while a disappointing 23rd overall finishing at the recent ABSA Cape Epic has given the duo added motivation to put in another strong showing.
“My uncle lives in Underberg, my cousins own the local Spar up there, I even spent some of my childhood years living there so to take part in the sani2c and do well in that particular race really means a lot to me!”
“Kev and I have received fantastic support from Biogen, Volcan and a few others so far this season and had a really good start to the year with a couple of positive results.
“Epic unfortunately didn’t go according to plan for us so it really would be a special treat for our sponsors if we were able to get the win at sani(2c) again.”
The experienced marathon racing pair have opted for contrasting Cape Epic recovery regimes in the build up to this year’s sani2c however do not believe this will be an issue given the understanding they have of one another’s racing style.
“We’re both busy recovering from Epic at the moment before Kev then looks to ride the (Old Mutual) joBerg2c with a friend as a training block ahead of sani2c.
“Being ten years older than me, that extra mileage is something Kev has learnt works for him however I know that’s not for me. I’ll just be doing the Ashburton race in Clarens between now and sani(2c).
“Our different approaches aren’t an issue for us; we’ve ridden together many times before and we know each other’s racing styles really well.
“We’re both have quite an aggressive, attacking riding style and mentality we’re also quite similar in that we both really enjoy winning and are super competitive,” adds Knox.
While the likes of Scott Factory Racing powered by LCB’s Philip Buys, Matthys Beukes, Arno du Toit and Gert Heyns, Full Dynamix’s duo of Rourke Croeser and Travis Walker as well as Kargo Pro MTB’s Brendon Davids and Alan Hatherly won’t be on this year’s sani2c start line due to their UCI MTB World Cup commitments, Knox still expects a still challenge at the front of the men’s race.
“Even though some of the cross country specialists will be missing this year, it will still be a great field I’m sure and anyone with a number board on the front of their bike is a competitor you have to worry about; you can’t write anyone off.
“The Epic just showed how much stronger the local mountain biking scene is getting and I’m sure it’s going to be another really tough race at this year’s sani2c!” says Knox.
More information can be found at www.sani2c.co.za