Who to watch at KAP sani2c Race 2023

It will come as no surprise that the 19th edition of the KAP sani2c Race will put on a show of exciting racing, with some of South Africa’s top teams lining up for a fast and furious 265 kms from Underberg to Scottburgh on Thursday. With live coverage on @_sani2c Instagram stories, all eyes will be on the start line at Glencairn Farm near Underberg.

Men

There are three teams most likely to dominate the men’s race at the 19th edition of the KAP sani2c, but with potential team tactics and the ‘anything can happen’ element of South Africa’s fastest three-day mountain bike stage race, the action could pan out in a number of ways.

Imbuko {Type} Dev’s defending champions Marco Joubert and Wessel Botha will be joined by teammates Pieter du Toit and Franko van Zyl. Joubert predicts that the Beers/Nortje and Du Toit/Bontekoning pairings will be their toughest rivals: “I think going into sani2c, our equipment is better than last year, so we are a little bit more confident. And because we won it last year and we know the race route, we are ticking all those boxes.

Imbuko {Type} Dev, the defending champions, are confident going into the Race this week. Photo credit Anthony Grote

“I think in terms of our competitors, Matt and Tristan are going to be the ones we’ll be watching, and then keeping a close eye on Insect Science as well. I think it will be a ding-dong battle between the top three teams, and we’ll have Franko and Pieter there as well – they should also be in the mix and that could play in our favour. We do have a plan going into sani2c, but we will just have to see.”

2023 Absa Cape Epic champion Matt Beers (Toyota-Specialized), with Tristan Nortje, are arguably the outright favourites, and will be supported by teammates Zola Ngxakeni and Ntlantla Nonkasa. Beers, who has podiumed each time he has taken part since 2017, taking the win in 2018, says: “Every race I enter, I go to win. sani2c is a great race and I’d really like to win it again. I think that with Tristan and our partnership, we have a really good chance. I think the route suits him and me, and we can really work together to pull off a win.

Toyota-Specialized’s Matt Beers and Tristan Nortje are the team to beat. Photo credit Ray Cox/Toyota-Specialized

The strong combination of youth and experience of Arno du Toit and Keagan Bontekoning for team Insect Science will be a formidable opponent, though without second team support they may find themselves challenged. Du Toit is familiar with the top step at sani2c with his former team, and he took second place last year for Insect Science with Bontekoning. He says they are both in good form going into sani2c, evidenced by their 3rd and 5th place respectively at XCO Champs last weekend, and they have a solid partnership:“We have been very well matched the whole year, it was just unfortunate that he got sick at Epic. We have done well at sani2c, coming second last year, so we definitely are looking for a good result, and hopefully we can win it. sani2c is such a high-speed, fast race, that anything can happen.”

A glaring absence this year will be PYGA Eurosteel’s Philip Buys. Paired with Alex Miller, the team would have added much to the excitement at the sharp end, but their XCO commitments clash with sani2c this year.

HB Kruger will be racing with Rossouw Bekker for Valley Electrical Titan Racing. Luyanda Thobigunya and Kusaselihle Ngidi will race for Fairtree-DP-world Cannondale. They took 8th place at KAP sani2c last year, and after a solid year of racing with some good results, including at the ABSA Cape Epic, the team hopes for a top 5 position this year.

Phillimon Sebona and Jan Montshioa are racing as team Curro Cycling, while other teams to look out for are road cyclists Alwyn Jr Steenkamp and Brandon Downes as  Team Zini-TEG. Veterans Mike Posthumus and Criag Uria will race as Team Restonic13, and Unathi Nxumalo and Matthew Scott will be riding in the Young Guns category for Absolute Motion/Pump for Peace.

 

Women

 

After her win at the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the Absa Cape Epic, Efficient Infiniti’s  Kim Le Court may just be unstoppable. She will be racing with Samantha Sanders, who is no stranger to the KAP sani2c podium. Le Court took the sani2c title with Robyn de Groot last year, so we can expect the pair to dominate proceedings. Le Court says: “I’m looking forward to racing with Sammy, it’s been a while since we have raced together.  We will first and foremost have fun, but climbing off the highest step of the Epic, to sani2c, is a good feeling. It’s not about who is the strongest, it’s about how quickly we can go together. That’s what we will do.”

Kim Le Court won the 2022 KAP sani2c with Robyn de Groot as her teammate. Photo Anthony Grote

Sarah Hill and Elrika Harmzen have formed a promising team, HH Womens’ Racing, and will be racing together for the 2023/2024 seasons. While Harmzen will be riding her maiden sani2c, she has built a formidable reputation since she emerged on the scene during the height of COVID-19. She formed a team with the support of Wintergreen, and the Barrier Breakers raised the profile of women’s cycling during the period before sponsorship ended this year.

Hill and Harmzen solidified their partnership at the ABSA Cape Epic, though their race was impacted by illness. Despite quite serious health concerns, the pair pushed through to finish the race in a respectable 8th position in the UCI Women’s category, and are well recovered and ready to race. Harmzen has achieved some good mountain bike stage race results, and with Hill’s experience (she placed second with Theresa Ralph at the 2020 sani2c), Le Court and Sanders may have a challenge on their hands.

Sarah Hill sprints to second place on day 3 of the 2020 edition, with Robyn de Groot. Photo Kevin Sawyer

A welcome addition to the women’s field is the Imbuko {Type} Dev team of Danielle Strydom and Karla Stumpf. Strydom is familiar with sani2c – she has won the Young Guns category, and in 2021 took third place in the women’s race, so will guide young Stumpf in her first sani2c. A Maties Cycling athlete, Stumpf has recently been recruited to Imbuko {Type} Dev, and with a win at PE to Plett in their first stage race together, the young team are ready to give it their all: “sani2c is one of the ultimate stage races of South Africa, so I can only be excited,” says Strydom.

Danielle Strydom, now racing for Imbuko {Type} Dev, took third place in 2021. Photo Anthony Grote

Be sure to tune in to the racing live on Instagram stories @_sani2c

The KAP sani2c Race takes place from 27-29 April. The Adventure is from 26-28 April, and follows the same 265 kms over three days. Next month, the KAP sani2c nonstop 24-hour race takes place on 13-14 May covering most of the sani2c route, all within a 24-hour cut-off period. To find out more and to enter nonstop, visit www.sani2c.co.za.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

*