PAARL - The mandatory 4km time trial got the 2017 Berg River Canoe Marathon festivities underway in Paarl on Tuesday with a surprising turn, as the big Czech star Petr Mojžíšek was eight seconds quicker than Adrián Boros in second while young Tom Lovemore came home in third.
A last second entry from old-hand Graeme Solomon has added another dimension to the 2017 event however it was an international bunch that dominated the time trial with three of the top five places going to paddlers from abroad.
"I was unbelievably surprised by my result today," an animated Mojžíšek said at the finish. "On such a low river with no flow I can't believe that I managed to win but we know that the race starts tomorrow and I am looking forward to it.
"Being politically correct, I definitely didn't have an advantage! With Graeme Solomon in the race now I am going to try and make sure that I stay with him for the first two days. It is going to be exciting racing."
Following his K2 victory at the European Marathon Championships over the past weekend, Boros is going to be a tough customer over the next four days and although his focus is on the ICF World Marathon Championships in Pietermaritzburg later in the year.
"I am feeling good and after my second in the K1 and K2 win at the European Championships last weekend i think that I am fit enough for this year's race."
The surprise package on Tuesday and a potential top three finisher, Tom Lovemore, was on fine form as he powered home to a third place overall.
"I felt I put in the same amount of effort as I did last year, and I finished tenth in 2016 and third this year!
"It's an absolute privilege for me to be sharing a podium with these two international stars," Lovemore added.
Rounding out the top five was Solomon in fourth and behind him British star Keith Moule in fifth.
Despite the fact that there were only two ladies in the time trial, Bianca Beavitt was solid as she came home in 21st overall with Kirsten Penderis finishing 30 seconds behind Beavitt in 30th.
The opening stage of the 2017 Berg River Canoe Marathon will take paddlers from the start in Paarl to the finish at Hermon.
1. Petr Mojžíšek (CZE) 14:31
2. Adrián Boros (HUN) 14:39
3. Tom Lovemore (U23) 14:40
4. Graeme Solomon 14:48
5. Keith Moule (GBR) 14:54
6. Phillip Smith 15:06
7. Mpilo Zondi (U23) 15:22
8. Mthobisi Cele (U23) 15:31
9. Alan Houston (U23) 15:44
10. Richard Allen 15:46
11. Heinrich Shloms 15:55
12. Mvelo Ngidi (U18) 16:15
13. Anders Hart (U23) 16:15
14. Jan Venter 16:20
15. Evan Knight (U23) 16:22
Berg River Canoe Marathon Media