This is probably the race in South Africa with the best single tracks, they are fantastic and well prepared, and the race organisation is awesome so it really is a race you want to do! I was teaming up with Robyn De Groot for the first time and I was looking forward to trying this partnership, Robyn is super strong and it could maybe be a start to a good future team. Unfortunately I got sick on the Monday before the race, the race started on Thursday, so it was antibiotics and bed for 2 days and on Wednesday I took the chance and travelled to Underberg.
Stage 1, Underberg – McKenzi club, 89km
We started at Underberg at around 1550 altitude, as usual I struggle a bit with the high altitude. I felt a lot better but still not 100% and I could feel that when we started racing. Our biggest competition was going to be my Epic partner Theresa who teamed up with Jeannie Dreyer. We rode together with them for the first 20km and it felt like it was going to be a big battle. Unfortunately Theresa crashed badly on a single track after 20km, we were right behind her when it happened. We later heard that she had stopped and it turned out that she needed an operation the same evening. We could play it a bit safe even if I felt like I was pushing everything I had, the single tracks were fine but I struggled on the hills. We won the stage about 12 minutes ahead of Yolandi Du Toit and Yolande Speedy.
Stage 2 McKenzi club – Jolivet, 99km
We started at 6.15am before it got light, it was a bit scary on the first single track when we could not really see anything. It got better as we started to descend down the Umkomaas valley. It was lots of fun going town and I often thought about how much worse it was last year when it had been raining and we were sliding in the mud! We descended around 800m altitude and I felt much better at the bottom and could ride hard again, it felt good! The stage profile looks like a U so after a bit at the bottom it was time to start climbing. My legs gave in a bit on the long climbs but we still rode better then yesterday. We won the stage about 30 minutes ahead of Yolandi and Yolande and had a 42 minutes lead going in to the last stage.
Stage 3 Jolivet – Scottburgh, 84km
The last day saw a reversed start, meaning that the A and B bunch started last, at 11am and the slower riders from 7am. This is to give everyone a chance to see us finish in at the beach in Scottburgh. It meant a long wait for us in the morning, since we have to hand in the box by 9am and there is not much else to do then just sit and wait in your cycling kit… Robyn had a scratchy throat this morning and did not feel so good. It was a fast start and also a fast stage since we had 665 meters of climbing and 1700 meters of descending to do. The stage also had a lot of open gravel roads where it was good to sit in a bunch, but we were mostly on our own since Robyn was not well. I felt stronger on the bike today so I guess both of us have had strong days and not so good days during the Sani. The last 600 meters were on the floating bridge over the lagoon, it was fun but a bit nerv wracking, what IF one would fall in the water on the finishing stretch;)
All went well and we won our 3 stage win and the overall in the ladies category at the 2014 Sani2C, happy and proud moment! It was a good partnership with Robyn and I think we have more to give as a team since we were not one day able to race to our full potential, we must just be 100% healthy at the same time;)
A huge thank you must go to Farmer Glen and the Haw family for putting together such a great event! It is amazing to see how this can be the best organized event that I have done and they take 4500 riders through in 3 different races!
Thank you to Cape Brewing Company for making this race possible for me. To Continental South Africa for my tyres, another stage race in the bag without punctures! To Powerbar South Africa for fueling me for the 3 days. Thank you Pronghorn for making such a good bike, all just went smothly! GripGrab for my gloves and Rudy for my helmet and glasses.