Lill and Woolcock repeat 2015 success with storming KAP sani2c first stage

The 2016 KAP sani2c's Race event got off to a blistering start on Thursday as one of the best mountain biking fields assembled in years were blown away by defending champions Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock who took line honours whilst it was the expectant Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag who took the spoils in the women's race.

2016RacD1LillWoolcock.jpegThe opening stage of the 2016 KAP sani2c saw the USN-Purefit duo of Darren Lill (left) and Waylon Woolcock (right)repeat their 2015 effort by taking the stage win on Thursday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

 

The USN-Purefit pair of Lill and Woolcock were just as dominant as they were in 2015, putting some significant daylight between themselves and the second placed duo of Johann Rabie and HB Kruger of Team Telkom.

 

"In a short, fast race like sani2c, you basically have to pound it from the beginning," Lill said after their stage one victory.

 

"You need to try and put the rest of the teams under pressure and that is what we set out to do today and we are happy with our two minute lead over second and third."

 

2016RacD1Telkom.jpegIt was a solid ride from the Team Telkom pair of Johann Rabie (left) and Hendrick Kruger (right) on Thursday which was the first day of the Race event at the 2016 KAP sani2c.Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

 

The Queen stage on the second day of the event is often seen as one which shakes the race up and Lill is under no illusions about how tough it is still going to be with their 2015 second stage potentially playing on their minds.

 

"Our advantage does not mean that the race is sewn up by any means because anything can happen on the second stage of the race, but it does take the pressure of having to chase off us.

 

"The pressure is actually now on the guys behind us because they have to try and win back the time.

 

"Last year we were in a good position until I picked up a puncture with about 20 kilometres to go and put us under pressure, but hopefully nothing like that happens tomorrow and we are just looking forward to enjoying the stage," a relaxed Lill added.

 

It was a difficult day out for the NAD Pro MTB Team duo of Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell, who had to fight hard to keep within touching distance of the two teams ahead of them as they powered home in third place.

 

2016RacD1Bell.jpegIt was a difficult day for the NAD MTB Pro Team pair of Gawie Combrinck (back) and Nico Bell (front) who had to settle for second place on Thursday which was the first day of the Race event at the 2016 KAP sani2c. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

 

"I could still feel that we haven't quite recovered from joBerg2c," a visibly disappointed Combrinck said. "We just didn't have the legs today after the guys really made it hard from the gun on the first single track and we battled to stay with them."

 

"We managed to close the gap towards the end but we couldn't get passed the other guys.

 

"The first stage is usually the worst for us so hopefully tomorrow the legs will feel better and we can make up some time."

 

The ladies race was a full-throttle battle from start to finish as the Dorma Time Freight pair of Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian put the more fancied Team Ascendis Health brace of De Groot and Stenerhag under unexpected pressure, forcing the latter pair to dig deep towards the end of the stage.

 

2016RacD1Neethling.jpegThe Dorma Time Freight pair of Candice Neethling (pictured) and Vera Adrian pushed the leaders all the way to the end on Thursday which was the first day of the Race event at the 2016 KAP sani2c. Kevin Sawyer/ Gameplan Media
2016RacD1Adrian.jpegVera Adrian (pictured) and her Dorma Time Freight partner Candice Neethling finished in a close second place in the ladies race on Thursday which was the first day of the Race event at the 2016 KAP sani2c. Kevin Sawyer/ Gameplan Media

"The race got a bit tighter than we would have liked!" current South African Marathon Champion, De Groot admitted. "We made a slight tactical error when we stopped at water point two and Candice and Vera rode through, leaving us with a big chase and we only caught them just in time to take the stage win!"

 

"It is always fantastic have some good competition though and it sets up the race for some really exciting days of racing tomorrow and on Saturday.

 

"It is great to see Vera and Candice racing so well as it makes the entire race more exciting for everyone, which is great!"

 

2016RacD1Stenerhag.jpegThe pace at the front of the ladies race was blistering however it was the Team Ascendis Health pair of Jennie Stenerhag (front) and Robyn de Groot (back) who took the spoils on Thursday which was the first day of the Race event at the 2016 KAP sani2c. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

 

Swedish star Stenerhag has been on the road to recovery recently following a heart operation earlier in the year and the first stage of the sani2c was one of her first real hit outs since her surgery.

 

"I am feeling fine," mentioned Stenerhag. "Although I know that I am not in the best shape of my life, I am feeling alright and looking forward to tomorrow!"

 

"It was nice to have Jen back next to me and also all the support that we got out there today!" added De Groot.

 

In what was an eleventh hour entry, the Sasol Racing duo of Catherine Williamson and Johan Labuschagne were the strongest mixed pair on the day.

 

As Labuschagne goes in pursuit of another sani2c mixed title, the pair opened up a two minute lead over the Team Garmin pair of Yolandi du Toit and Ben-Melt Swanepoel, a handy lead going into Friday's second stage.

 

2016RacD1Mixed.jpegFollowing a dominant showing from Sasol Racing's Johan Labuschagne (left) and Catherine Williamson (right) they were in the mixed category pound seats on Thursday which was the first day of the Race event at the 2016 KAP sani2c. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

 

Meanwhile, the Adventure event’s 99km second stage from MacKenzie Club to Jolivet Farm saw Nivea's Wynand van der Berg and Philip Beukes extend their overall lead after claiming their second consecutive stage victory despite two serious mishaps along the way.

 

The first, a serious fall during the steep descent into the legendary uMkomaas Valley that many onlookers believed would spell the end of the pair’s race.

 

The duo managed bounce back though, only to then to have to deal with a slipping seat post issue for the remainder of the testing Queen stage.

 

2016RacD1Group.jpegRiders were treated to some brilliant conditions on Thursday which was the first day of the Race event at the 2016 KAP sani2c. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

 

Van der Berg and Beukes raced home ahead of Clinton Halsey and Liam Graham (Talon Tough Tools) while Brandon Harcus and Brett Parker finished third on the day.

 

Halsey and Graham's effort was enough to see them join the Nivea pair in the General Classification's top three however AHS Racing's pair of Ashley and Alistair Haigh Smith's second stage fourth place effort sees them remain in second place overall.

 

2016AdvD2Umko.jpegOn what is the hardest of the the three days riders had to take on the mighty Mkomaas Valley on Thursday during day two of the Adventure event the 2016 KAP sani2c. Darren Goddard/ Gameplan Media


2016RacD1Action.jpegDespite for the warm weather riders had to deal with some tricky sections due to the recent rains on Thursday which was the first day of the Race event at the 2016 KAP sani2c. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

2016AdvD2Selfie.jpegRiders were greeted to some incredible scenery on Thursday during day two of the Adventure event the 2016 KAP sani2c. Darren Goddard/ Gameplan Media


Thursday's action also saw the curtain come down on the first of the 2016 KAP sani2c events – the Trail, which got underway in Tuesday - with broad smiles on the faces of all those who successfully navigated their way down to Scottburgh Main Beach.

 

Friday sees all the action of the third and final day of the Adventure unfold from Jolivet Farm to Scottburgh Main Beach while the Race's racing snakes head off on their second stage from MacKenzie Club to Jolivet Farm. More information can be found at www.sani2c.co.za.

 




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