KAP sani2c Diary Note
Written by : Tim Whitfield
Bell & Combrinck hoping to go one better at sani2c 2017
Himeville - Despite being the first
team to reach the finish at Scottburgh on the KZN South Coast in
Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell had too much time to make up on
stage three and finished second overall, however
the duo is hoping to go one better in 2017 and finish atop the
KAP sani2c podium.
Last year the NAD Pro MTB Team of Combrinck and Bell finished
both the first two stages – from Himeville to MacKenzie Club near
Ixopo, and from there to Jolivet Farm in Highflats – in third
overall, leaving them with too much to do to take the win despite
winning the final stage to Scottburgh.
This year on May 11-13, the pair, who both hail from the Lowveld
city of Nelspruit,
are expecting to take some of their late 2017 ABSA Cape Epic form into
the popular three-day race from the foothills of the Drakensberg
to the KZN South Coast.
Combrinck and Bell were second in the
sought-after African Jersey competition at last month's Epic,
finishing a very creditable 11th overall against the strongest
field ever assembled – and less than two minutes outside a
coveted top-ten position after over 28 hours of racing. This was
despite riding as the backup team for two-time winners and this
year’s runners up, Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy.
“At the Epic the African jersey was important, but for us first
priority was riding as backup for Jaro and Christoph,” said Bell
“That meant we had to ride hard to be there for them in case they
needed us. We burnt a few matches early each day
taking up the pace and staying with the lead group as long as
possible, so we could help if they needed mechanical assistance.”
It says a lot about the talented South Africans that arguably the
most meticulously prepared team, and pre-race favourites at the
Epic, chose Bell and Combrinck as a backup team.
After their 2016 successes, Bell and Combrinck are following a
similar build up plan for their 2017 KAP sani2c campaign, but are
hoping to come off the Old Mutual joBerg2c with some better form.
“The sani2c is a bigger race and so it is important for our
sponsors that we try and do as well as we can at Sani,” said
“Last year we got sick on the final two days of joBerg2c so
were not at our best for the Sani, but this year we hope to stay
healthy and then do some high-intensity work in the ten days or
so between the two races.
“It is a strong field this year and the PYGA team (Philip Buys and
Matthys Beukes) will be there and will be hard to beat.
“It is tough to know how your form is going to be. This weekend
at Clarens we were expecting all the guys who did not do Epic to
be good, but the guys who had a tough Epic were stronger.
"Hopefully we can then go into the Sani with some good form."
Combrinck and Bell have developed into one of South Africa’s top
mountain bike stage racing teams with a list of successes that
most other riders can only dream of.
In 2016 they won the nine-day Old Mutual joBerg2c after a tight
battle with Team Telkom’s Johann Rabie and HB Kruger, and then a
couple of weeks later finished second in the KAP sani2c, again
getting the better of Rabie and Kruger, but just losing out to
Scott Racing’s Beukes and Gert Heyns.
In 2016 the NAD Pro couple were comfortable winners of the
African jersey at the Epic with a solid 12th overall.
This year is the twelfth edition of the KAP sani2c, the world’s
largest mountain bike stage race, which takes place from
Himeville to Scottburgh during the second week of May.
For more information on KAPsani2c:
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Having left too much to do on
the final stage of the 2016 race, the NAD Pro MTB Team duo of Gawie
Combrinck (right) and Nico Bell (left) will be hoping that they can go one better at the
2017 KAP sani2c from 11-13 May.
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