The joBerg2c is coming down to a two-horse race between defending champions Neil MacDonald and Waylon Woolcock and overall leaders Kevin Evans and David George.
On Thursday, Evans and George notched up their fourth stage victory as they outsprinted Woolcock and MacDonald, after 86km of cycle racing between Hazeldene Farm near Underberg and McKenzie Club in the Ixopo region of KwaZulu-Natal.
David Morison and Louis Bresler Knipe were also in the mix but slipped off the pace to finish 14 seconds adrift.
“I suppose we all knew that it would come down to a sprint up that nasty climb to the finish,” said Evans.
“Neil was probably the strongest, but went a little too early and Waylon came over him too hard while he was trying to recover, which gave us the win.”
A big lead bunch reached the start of the Oak Lane dual single track after 20km, where the top three teams split off the front.
“Dave and I were half-wheeling each other on the tracks,” said Evans. “Then we came out and it was the usual hard pull out of there.
“When we looked back it was just the two other teams and us.”
Morison and Knipe took full advantage of the leaders' refuelling stop at the first waterpoint after 38km to make up lost ground. They opted not to stop and were briefly able to latch onto the two leading teams before being detached for a second time.
They fell back by 30 seconds but rallied gamely to close the gap again by the final waterpoint.
“Louis and Dave rode really well to catch us after about 60km and then it was just the three teams to sprint it out. It was very close in the end.”
Evans, a four-time BOE sani2c winner, said he felt at home on the last three days of the joBerg2c, which traced the popular three-stager's route.
In the women's race, Ischen Stopforth and her British partner Catherine Williamson once again swept to victory in 3:24:01, ahead of the team of Sarah van Heerden and Jackie Church, who were nine minutes behind.
Williamson said they were still determined to ride aggressively even though they were not under serious pressure, given their seemingly unassailable lead of about 83 minutes.
“I think the main thing is just to get safely through the next two days,” she said.
Taking their sixth straight win in as many racing stages, mixed category leaders Erik and Ariane Kleinhans sailed home in 3:10:33, just less than a minute ahead of Johan Labuschagne and Yolande de Villiers. – Sapa