Multiple former winners Kevin Evans and Max Knox combined their firepower to win the 10th Nedbank sani2c mountain bike race that culminated on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast on Saturday. After three days of racing, the FedGroup-Itec pair finished fifth on the 85km final stage from Highflats to Scottburgh to take overall victory in an aggregate time of 8:57:45. Old Mutual joBerg2c winners Gawie Combrinck and Johann Rabie, of EAI South Africa, came home fourth on the day to secure the overall runner-up spot in 9:01:08. Kargo Pro's young cross-country specialists Rourke Croeser and Travis Walker impressed in a rare stage racing appearance to finish on the bottom step of the podium in 9:05:21. It was Evans's sixth triumph in the 265km stage race - the largest of its kind in the world - and Knox's third. "So that's nine wins from 10 events, which is pretty special," said Evans. He and Knox won the first two stages to take a comfortable three-and-a-half-minute lead into the final day. "Today wasn't about the stage win, we just wanted to sew up the victory for FedGroup-Itec," he said. "It's been a while coming but the form is there and it's the start of good things." Line honours on the day belonged to cross-country racers Arno Du Toit and Brendon Davids of Trek Racing, who outsprinted Croeser and Walker by one second to take the win in 2:35:05. The sprint for third went to Red-E/TIB's Darren Lill and Andrew Hill in 2:38:25, but not before a spectacular finish line crash as Lill and Rabie locked wheels. The day's results were just reward for the young Kargo Pro and Trek Racing teams, who also led the charge on Friday's 100km queen stage before blowing on the climb out of the Umkomaas River Valley. "Today I went early and fortunately Kargo Pro chased and caught up with us," said stage winner Davids. "There was a bit of cat and mouse throughout the stage but we timed our last attack well and hit the bridge together. "It was tough . . .
Kevin Evans and Max Knox won a suspense-filled second stage to hang onto their overnight lead at the Nedbank sani2c, which rolled out from Ixopo to Highflats in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday. After a day of thrills and spills among the pro contenders, the FedGroup-Itec pair - who hold seven sani2c titles between them - raced into the finish at Jolivet farm to take the 99km queen stage in 3:36:58. Unlucky RECM riders Erik Kleinhans and Nico Bell, who had chased hard in the closing kilometres, followed a minute later in 3:37:53. Kleinhans tore his shoulder joint after taking a tumble on Charlie's Catwalk in sight of the finish, which has effectively ended the race for the second-placed team. Gawie Combrinck and Johann Rabie (EAI South Africa), who won the Old Mutual joBerg2c over the same course two weeks ago, finished third in 3:38:54. Evans and Knox head the overall standings on an aggregate time of 6:19:08. Although Kleinhans and Bell lie second in 6:20:17, they will not be continuing the race. After today's stage, Combrinck and Rabie move up onto the bottom step of the podium in 6:22:42, just over three-and-a-half minutes off the pace. The ride of the day however belonged to young cross-country racers Rourke Croeser and Travis Walker of Kargo Pro, who led a breakneck charge down into the mist-shrouded Umkomaas River Valley. "Rourke and Travis are very good in the technical stuff and are the best cross-country riders in South Africa," said Knox. By the time they reached the valley floor, the Kargo Pro duo and Trek Racing's Arno du Toit and Brendon Davids had opened up a three-minute lead over the chasing teams. Then Red-E/TIB's Andrew Hill crashed on one of the bridges before the first waterpoint at around 40km, taking Evans down with him. "The other teams didn't wait for us and attacked instead," said Knox. Slowly working their way back, Evans and Knox caught and passed the small chase group on the climb out of the valley. By . . .
Mountain biking enthusiasts have a final window of opportunity to ride one of the Eastern Cape's most scenic and diverse stage races before entries for the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek close on Monday. The second edition of the three-day race, which centres around the Zuurberg mountain range just outside Port Elizabeth from May 30, traverses the Sundays River Valley and Addo Elephant National Park with the plateau offering stunning views over the Great Karoo. The 200km course also takes in manageable sections of the national champs cross-country and downhill course at Hayterdale Trails, allowing even novice stage racers the thrill of testing their technical skills. According to race organiser Brad Jackson, the field for the exclusive event would be limited to just 120 two-person teams. "This is about enjoying a premium experience. It's real mountain biking in pristine surroundings but with all the creature comforts at the end of the day." As the official race village, the four-star Zuurberg Mountain Village would host all meals, prize-givings and stage briefings, said Jackson. "The entire establishment has been booked out for our riders with the overflow being accommodated in the bungalows at the campground across the road." While the luxury options were already fully booked, he said those teams that entered before the closing date would get their own private rooms with two single beds and shared ablutions. "Our riders won't have to brave the winter chill in a tent and will be well rested at the start of each stage." While last-minute entries would be too late to receive the official race kit, Jackson said the branded gear would be sent to those participants after the event. Set amid one of the province's prime tourism hotspots, he said race participants could stay on after the event to enjoy Big Five game viewing at the national park or one of the many private reserves in the area. Airport shuttle services would be available for . . .
Former champions Kevin Evans and Max Knox fired the opening salvo of the 10th annual Nedbank sani2c to take the first stage of the three-day mountain bike race in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday. Knox and Evans (FedGroup-Itec) led from the start of the 82km stage from Underberg to power into the finish at MacKenzie Club near Ixopo in a time of 2:42:10. Nearest challengers Erik Kleinhans and RECM teammate Nico Bell, who won the event with Knox last year, followed them home in 2:42:24. Darren Lill and Andrew Hill (Red-E/TIB) rounded out the podium in 2:43:36. Five-time winner Evans said he and Knox, who has two titles to his name, had decided to go out all guns blazing on the fast and flat stage. "We decided to take the racing to the guys because this stage can be easy if you make it easy." They set the tempo on the Oak Maze single-track within the first 10km and pushed the pace on the drag up the railway climb. "With the pace Max put on, I was on the ropes but I was also the only one who was able to sit on his wheel. "Then RECM rode across to us and the four of us worked well together to get a gap on the rest of the field." By the time they reached the floating bridge over Mossbank Dam after 30km, Knox and Evans had 20 seconds on Bell and Kleinhans. A small chase group - including Lill and Hill, Gawie Combrinck and Johann Rabie (EAI Cycling) and Rourke Croeser and Travis Walker (Kargo Pro) - was just over a minute further back. Although Bell and Kleinhans were able to keep pace with the FedGroup-Itec pair for most of the day, it was Knox and Evans who had the legs on Tiny's Climb at the end to forge ahead to the finish. It was a sweet win for the FedGroup-Itec pair, who struggled with illness and technical difficulties at the Old Mutual joBerg2c two weeks ago. "I think the little bit of bad luck and maybe the illness helped us go a bit easier. In hindsight, for preparation for this race, it was better." Evans said the Nedbank . . .
The official bike-wash sponsor to the Nedbank sani2c, Talisman Hire, wishes riders competing in the 10th edition of the sani2c, which began yesterday (May 13) and ends on May 17, all the best of luck as they take on the world’s biggest full-service mountain bike stage race. Transporting a massive mobile bike wash centre throughout the stages and then washing approximately 4 500, mud-caked and dusty bikes that have traversed through KwaZulu-Natal’s most unpredictable terrain, with rural stage finishes mostly in the middle of nowhere, is no easy feat. Talisman Hire’s eco-friendly, bike-cleaning system enables them to master this epic task at the end of every stage of the 265km sani2c race, which began in Underberg and ends in Scottburgh on the KZN south coast. At the end of each stage day, riders take their bikes to Talisman’s cleaning station, signposted with a giant inflatable Talisman so riders know where to go, and raised above ground on a platform built specifically for this race in order to efficiently drain off water. Here bikes pass through a rigorous process that sees them cleaned by masterful bike washers using top of the range, high pressure cleaners, powered by Talisman-supplied generators. Using as little water as possible, Talisman’s washing system and expertly-trained staff ensure bikes come out the other side sparkling and without damage, especially to the bearings, which can be affected during high-power washing. Once washed and dried, all bikes are expertly ‘lubed’ ready for the next day. Staying true to the ethos of the Nedbank sani2c, which is to create a race that gives back to, and empowers, the local community, Talisman sources staff locally thus helping to create employment in the rural areas that the race passes through. Says Colin Du Plessis, Managing Director at Talisman Hire, “We first came on board the Nedbank sani2c adventure in 2013 when we provided a much-improved bike washing system. We are once again immensely proud . . .
With the world marathon championships looming, Nico Bell is preparing for a ding-dong battle as he mounts his title defence at the Nedbank sani2c mountain bike race in KwaZulu-Natal from Thursday. Bell, riding in the colours of Team RECM, will saddle up with Cape Epic partner Erik Kleinhans for the 10th edition of the world's largest stage race. Last year, he claimed victory in the three-day race from Underberg to Scottburgh alongside two-time winner Max Knox. "The sani2c is one of my build-up races and fits in perfectly as it is only three days of fast racing, so it doesn't drain the body too much and helps build the speed needed for world champs." A marathon specialist at heart, Bell is the reigning MTN Series champion and currently leads the standings in this year's competition. "It's a goal for me to win the national series once again as you have to be consistent throughout the year. But my main focus this season has been stage races alongside Erik as we build a strong team together." The two are currently in good form, having taken first and third respectively at the recent MTN Clarens race. "Based on our performances at Clarens, I think we will be a strong team. But with sani2c you also need some luck; a puncture or wrong turn can cost you the race!" Bell, 30, said he and Kleinhans, 32, had the age and experience to shine in longer endurance events, as evidenced by their top-10 finish at the Cape Epic earlier this year. "We are both strong riders and can climb and pace ourselves well, but experience is probably our best trait as we know how to stay calm and handle the situation," said Bell. According to him, the famed Nedbank sani2c single-tracks provided good skills training ahead of the UCI world champs in nearby Pietermaritzburg in June. Bell said he expected stiff competition from the likes of his former teammate Gawie Combrinck and ex-roadie Johann Rabie of EAI Cycling. "Gawie and Johann will be strong because they just . . .
Peschlsports, management of the Kargo Pro MTB Team, are extremely excited and proud to announce that William Mokgopo has joined the first official UCI XCO MTB Team in South Africa. It has been a long journey from humble beginnings when William was first discovered by Simon Nash at the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy (DMA), and his persistence and dedication to his dream has finally borne fruit. Shaun Peschl of Peschlsports says he has been following the young star’s progress for the last two seasons. “It was clear to me that William is a hard working individual and over the last few months he has really stepped it up; I believe much of his success is a result of the support structure around him and the positivity of his friends and mentors such as André Ross, Chairperson of the Diepsloot MTB Academy, who have been walking this road with him.” William has represented South Africa on three occasions in the last eight months- at the UCI MTB World Championships, the African Continental MTB Championships, and most recently at the UCI MTB World Cup. “With more than half the season still ahead of us, we will be working hard to improve his national and international rankings,” says Peschl. The team’s immediate plans are to take William to the German MTB World Cup at the end of May as preparation for the UCI MTB World Championships in Norway later this year. William will continue to pursue his B.Sport Science degree at the University of Pretoria and his race schedule will be planned around his studies accordingly. “I am truly humbled and honoured to finally be recognised as a pro-athlete,” says William with his trademark smile wider than ever. “And that not with any team, but with the only UCI registered XCO MTB team in the country. This adds to my belief that anything and everything is possible with hard work, focus, and people who believe in you like the DMA have done for me. This is proof that dreams do come true, whether you want to be a pro-athlete, . . .
If you know your nollie from a front flip, head for Pretoria this weekend when South Africa’s own Skateboarding for Hope road show hits Menlyn Park Shopping Centre on Saturday, 17 May from 10h00 onwards. The Skateboarding for Hope community outreach initiative forms part of a series of events throughout the year that builds up to the Kimberley Diamond Cup skateboarding world championships presented by Kumba Iron Ore, which will be taking place in Kimberley in the Northern Cape in October. The tour will be traveling throughout the country to introduce South African youth to the amazing sport of skateboarding, the fastest growing sport in the country. Tour stops will include Johannesburg, Pretoria, Jeffreys Bay, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, De Aar, Alexandra, Upington, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Cape Town, Nelspruit, George as well as the Northern Cape rural towns of Kuruman, Phillipstown, De Aar, Springbok and Kathu. Each event features skateboarding clinics and demonstrations, great vibes, cool product give-aways as well as exhilarating skateboarding action as the best skateboarders in the country go up against each other. The best skater on the day also stands the chance to win a wild card entry into the amateur division of the world championships. The eight day skateboarding festival will see male and female athletes from across the globe battling it out in the professional and amateur divisions on the street and vert courses. According to Tim McFerran of World Skateboarding GP, this year’s Skateboarding for Hope initiative will once again touch the lives of thousands of youngsters. “With the support of the Northern Cape provincial government and our presenting partner Kumba Iron Ore, we have actively changed the lifestyles of thousands of South African kids. These road shows have presented local youth with an alternative leisure interest that not only keeps them active, but also teaches important life skills such as perseverance, self-control and discipline,” . . .
It will be lights, camera and action for small screen star Hlubi Mboya this weekend - not in front of the cameras, but as a rider in the world's biggest mountain bike stage race. Mboya, best known for her role as Nandipha in the hit soap opera Isidingo, will be riding alongside Bestmed-ASG's Zandile Ndhlovu in the challenging Nedbank sani2c in KwaZulu-Natal from May 15 to 17. Although relatively new to mountain biking, Mboya has proven that she is up for the challenge having already completed this year's Cape Epic. "I only started riding last year, but I've always been active and I love a challenge that pushes me to my limits. "When I was invited to compete in the Epic, I could not turn down the opportunity," said Mboya, who was hooked from the first moment in the saddle. "In a way, the sport echoes life. In mountain biking you have to conquer different terrains and life is about that. "You also have to change gears from time to time, just like you would in everyday life. "Life also dishes up its fair share of steep hills, but, once you are at the top, a beautiful downhill awaits." Mboya and Ndhlovu had an immediate connection after meeting on a training ride last year. So, when Bestmed-ASG team manager Owen Botha started scouting suitable candidates to partner Ndhlovu on multistage events like the Nedbank sani2c, Mboya was a natural choice. "She is such an amazing spirit, with the most infectious laugh," said Ndhlovu, who conquered the 270km race from Underberg to Scottburgh last year. "We always have fun on the bike." Botha, who will be riding support for the two women, has high hopes for them. "Both Zandile and Hlubi are motivated and hard-working individuals and a good fit. I don't expect them to have any problems." Mboya, who has put in eight months of rigorous training for this year's race, is equally positive. "I've spent many hours in the saddle, so I'm ready to race." The 36-year-old actress is no stranger to . . .
The University of Johannesburg is set to fend off the approaching winter cold with hot hockey action when they host the semi-finals and finals of the Varsity Cup men's hockey competition next weekend. "Hockey fans, sport fanatics and families alike will love the vibe. It's going to be fast-paced, action-packed and just all round fun," said UJ sport events manager Niamh Faherty. The competition showcases the best of university hockey with only the top teams participating over three weekends in May. This year's line-up includes UJ, Stellenbosch University (Maties), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU Madibaz), University of Cape Town (UCT), University of the Free State (UFS), University of Pretoria (Tuks), University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and newcomers Rhodes University. Going into the penultimate weekend in Bloemfontein tomorrow, UJ head the log followed by UFS and NMMU. "The standard of competition in this year's tournament is very high," said Faherty. "UJ have gone into it as one of the favourites after winning the Ussa champs last year. "They have been training rigorously with their coach (Gareth Ewing) and we are excited to see the result." UJ hockey manager Elize le Roux said it was a great honour for the university to host the elimination rounds of such a prestigious competition. "It not only showcases us as a tertiary institution and our facilities, but also the most talented young players in the country." She said the host university had produced several top-class players over the years, including current national players Clinton and Brandon Panther and Taylor Dart. Although some of the matches will be televised on SuperSport, Le Roux encouraged fans to make their way to the UJ AstroTurf in Radnor Street, Melville, from May 17 to 19. "It's much better to experience the vibe and to see the action unfold in front of you than to watch it on television," said Faherty. "Johannesburg is rapidly running out of . . .