21 May 2012
In 2011, a wrong turn only 12 kilometres from the finish cost Nedbank 360Life’s Kevin Evans and David George victory in the Sani2c mountain bike race. They made no mistake in 2012, smashing the course record as they claimed victory in Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast on Saturday morning.
They took the overall lead after winning the opening stage between Underberg and McKenzie Club near Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, on Thursday and did not relinquish it.
On the third and final day, Evans and George rolled across the finishing line registering a time of 2:21:08, five seconds behind stage winners and team-mates James Reid and Charles Keey, who rode in the colours of Nedbank 360Life-Blend Properties.
Defending champion Max Knox and his new partner Mannie Heymans of Ormin finished in 2:23:59 to take third place on the day.
Evans, from Plettenberg Bay, and George, from Cape Town, topped the general classification with an overall time of 8:31:33.
The stage victory saw Reid and Keey cement their runner-up spot overall in 8:36:25, with Darren Lill and Brandon Stewart of FedGroup-Itec Connect-Bonitas rounding out the podium in 8:45:18.
“For us it wasn’t important to win every stage; the overall was,” said Evans, who notched up his fifth victory in six outings, two of which were with George.
“I love this race and I’ll keep coming back. The course gets better and better every year.”
After his near-perfect record was marred last year when he and George overshot a turn on the final day, the pair made no mistake on the fast 72km final stage from Jolivet Farm near Highflats to Scottburgh High School.
By the first water point after 21km, Evans and George, riding with Reid and Keey, had opened up a lead of a minute on their pursuers, which included Knox and Heymans, Stewart and Lill, and Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck of Bell Cycling-Columbia.
Evans said he expected more of a fight from their competition as they went up the first climb. “So we took a chance pacing with our junior team, basically consolidating our lead and making sure we had no hassles coming up to the finish.
They’ve been riding well
“It’s great that James and Charles could win today. They’ve been riding really well and deserve it,” he added.
Evans and George have been in superb form this season. They claimed the African jersey at the Absa Cape Epic in April and then captured the Old Mutual joBerg2c two weeks ago.
The two will also likely be contenders at next month’s Trans Germany stage race, which is a solo event.
In the women’s race, early overall leaders Karien van Jaarsveld and Theresa Ralph of DisChem-Britehouse-MTN took their second stage win in 2:46:47, but it was not enough to secure the overall title after they lost almost an hour the previous day with mechanical problems. That left them in third place in the general classification in 11:07:36.
The overall honours went the way of stage two winners Ischen Stopforth and Catherine Williamson of bizhub-FCF, who came home in 2:54:08 for a combined time of 10:24:11.
Next in were the second bizhub-FCF pairing of Leana de Jager and Nicci Grobler in 3:02:24. They also claimed the runner-up spot in the overall standings in 10:57:52.
“It would have been nice to have beaten them fair and square,” said Williamson, who hails from Britain. “We put so much effort into yesterday, going for the stage win because we didn’t know what the time gap was, and paid for it today.”
Mixed category overall leaders Erik and Ariane Kleinhans of Contego-28E crashed 10km from the finish to gift bride-to-be Cherise Taylor and her future brother-in-law Dwane Stander – brother of Burry Stander – the final stage honours in 2:45:06.
The Kleinhans couple, who finished second on the day in 2:50:42, had enough of a margin to retain their title in 10:08:40. Taylor and Stander were second in 10:23:00.
Ivor Jones and Bridgitte Stewart of Crusader Logistics crossed the line in third place in 2:52:30 to claim the same position overall in 10:47:36.
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