With two titles in a row, PYGA/Euro Steel's Matthys Beukes (front) will be looking for a hat-trick when he pairs up with Julian Jessop for the three-day race starting on Thursday.
Picture: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media
With two titles in a row, PYGA/Euro Steel's Matthys Beukes (front) will be looking for a hat-trick when he pairs up with Julian Jessop for the three-day race starting on Thursday. Picture: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media
Dormakaba's Samantha Sanders will again pair up with Amy McDougall as they both look for their first ever win. Picture: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media
Dormakaba's Samantha Sanders will again pair up with Amy McDougall as they both look for their first ever win. Picture: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media
The first day of the Trail got underway on Tuesday with excited riders enjoying the perfect conditions as they rode from Glencairn to Mackenzie Club for stage one of their KAP Sani2c.
Picture: Em Gatland/Gameplan Media
The first day of the Trail got underway on Tuesday with excited riders enjoying the perfect conditions as they rode from Glencairn to Mackenzie Club for stage one of their KAP Sani2c. Picture: Em Gatland/Gameplan Media
Day one of the Trail at the KAP Sani2c saw brilliant conditions as riders negotiated their way from Glencairn to Mackenzie Club on Tuesday. Picture: Kevin Sawyer/Gameplan Media
Day one of the Trail at the KAP Sani2c saw brilliant conditions as riders negotiated their way from Glencairn to Mackenzie Club on Tuesday. Picture: Kevin Sawyer/Gameplan Media

Durban - The 2018 KAP Sani2c will set off from Glencairn on Thursday as the nation's best mountain bikers tussle for the coveted prize over the 260km between the foothills of the Southern Drakensberg and the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal.

The 2018 Sani2c has no clear-cut favourite as a number of teams have the ability to take the crown if they string together three quality days of riding.

PYGA/Euro Steel's Matthys Beukes will be teaming up with young Julian Jessop for the race and the pair has already proven their quality with victory in the Africa jersey category at the Absa Cape Epic earlier this year. The recent Old Mutual JoBerg2c was proof that Beukes' form has not dipped as he rode solo to first overall through the nine days of racing.

Beukes is in line for a hat-trick of Sani2c titles but with over 260 kilometres between the start and the finish there are many obstacles that have in the past curtailed riders' shot at the title.

2017's opening stage from Glencairn Farm outside Himeville to Mackenzie Club did just that for the Team NAD pair of Gawie Combrink and Nico Bell. Combrink took a hard fall and that all but ended their chances of winning the race. They had to settle for fourth.

Team NAD will have two teams this year with Combrink lining up with last year's second place finisher Matthew Beers while Nico Bell takes on the challenge with Wessel Botha. These two pairs will be a thorn in the side of the PYGA/Euro Steel pairs and it could be an interesting four-horse shoot-out for the overall honours.

The fourth team involved will be the second PYGA/Euro Steel duo of Philip Buys and Phillimon Sebona. 

Another team that could cause an upset or two is the Team TIB/Silverback pair of Andrew Hill and Shaun-nick Bester. Bester paired up with Declan Sidey for the Joberg2c and the pair ended third. Hill has been a consistent top 10 finisher and in 2017 finished fifth with Jessop. That confidence could push him and Bester into podium positions this year.

In the ladies division it seems that there will be only one team to watch with the Dormakaba duo of Samantha Sanders and Amy McDougall looking like the odds-on favourites.

McDougall recently raced the JoBerg2c with Arno du Toit where they won the mixed category quite comfortably and with a second place to their name from 2017's Sani2c.

The mixed category will see the ITEC-Silverback pair of Yolande de Villiers and Brandon Stewart fight it out with the Team Garmin duo of Ben Melt Swanepoel and Yolandi du Toit.

Team Garmin's Swanepoel and Du Toit finished fourth in the mixed category at the JoBerg2c and will be looking to go one better than their Sani2c second they achieved in 2016.

On Thursday as the Race riders set off from Glencairn on stage two, the Adventure riders will be riding their second stage from Mackenzie Club to Jolivet Farm while the Trail riders will be finishing off their Sani2c as they take on the final stage from Jolivet to Scottburgh.

The Independent on Saturday