Team Abantu took to its first ever MTB stage race with HB Kruger flying the flag for "The People's Team." HB compiled this report on his 3-day race.
I was thrilled to be asked by one of my good friends Guylin Van de Berg (IXU) to be his partner for the Nedbank Sani2C a couple weeks prior to the event.
Having done the event in 2011 I knew what to expect and more or less how things would go, but having only done three MTB races in the past three years I was excited to see how my skills were going back to a discipline that I’ve had some good results in before I started focussing more on the road riding.
Stage 1 was off to a cold start, with some open roads it was a fight to stay in front and with your partner to hit the single track first. With everyone being fresh on day 1, there was quite a lot of pushing and shoving around in front and after the second piece of single track we were in a position that we had to regroup a bit.
From there on we had to chase most of the day, with my skill being on the slack side we knew time wouldn’t be made up on technical sections but rather on more open roads and climbs. in the end we finished the day in 7th position after 80km.
Stage 2, 99km down the Umkomaas valley was the queen stage. The fight was on for positioning again as you don’t want to be left behind chasing after descending 15km of single track through the valley. Going into the first section of single track my partner had a crash and shortly after my front brake gave in so we lost quite some time and position before we started the descent down. Going down the Umkomaas with only a rear brake was quite a challenge and had myself on the limit a couple times with some steep sections. We were left chasing the whole day but rode back quite well from 30th position to finish 8th on the day. Although a lot of time was lost on the front groups we were still happy that we managed a top 10 after a tough day in the saddle.
Stage 3 was a really fast stage. We knew time would not be made up easily on a fast course like that. We just wanted to finish racing on a high note. We were lying good for the first 15-20km until I had a bit of a tumble on a steep downhill gravel section and we lost contact and were on the backfoot chasing all the whole day. I fell on a rock with my right ITB so struggled to get going the first 5km after the fall but adrenaline kicked in and we were soon on racing speed again. We raced back to 6th place for the day in a time of about 2h40.
Overall we finished a credible 7th overall which I was content with being my first mountain bike stage race in about four years and also the fact I had come off a break following a very busy road season. The experience was great and a fun event, I look forward to building on it and maybe at another MTB race getting a spot on the podium.
Thanks to my partner Guylin from IXU, which is a growing brand entering the market of a couple of major sports including cycling, for giving me this opportunity.
And lastly thanks to Team Abantu for allowing me to try my hand at this great event and be a presence for t in the MTB arena