Can Beers be beaten at KAP sani2c?

2023 kap sani2c mountain bike race from kwazulu natal in south africa

Beers, the reigning SA Marathon and Cape Epic champ, will partner with Tristan Nortje for KAP sani2c later this month. Can anyone match their power?

2023 Absa Cape Epic champion Matt Beers has a solid history with the KAP sani2c three-day stage race in KwaZulu-Natal. He has been on the podium every year that he has taken part since 2017, though he missed the 2020 and 2022 editions. After a second place in 2017 with Tim Hammond (Ryder RED E Spot Africa), he won the 2018 edition with teammate Nico Bell (NAD Pro), then was second in 2019 with Stuart Marais (NAD Pro) and third in 2021 with Wessel Botha ({Type}Dev Nanotime).

Beers is now riding for team Toyota Specialized and will be paired with Tristan Norjte for the 2023 KAP sani2c from 27-29 April. He says: “sani2c is a great race and I’d really like to win it again. I think with Tristan, and our partnership, we have a really good chance. The route suits us both, and we can really work together to pull off a win. He’s raced this race one time before as a solo rider, so it’ll be quite cool to race as a team, and for me to come back after missing it last year.”

2023 kap sani2c mountain bike race from kwazulu natal in south africa
 In 2018, Matt Beers and Nico Bell took the KAP sani2c title

Since his last sani2c in 2021, Beers has won the Cape Epic twice and has taken the SA Marathon title again in 2023, and he and Nortje won the Tankwa Trek in February this year, amongst other accolades. Having toured the United States doing a host of gravel races last year, including the Belgian Waffle Ride where he came second, Beers says: “The gravel races are all pretty much 160 kilometres plus, so you are racing a lot longer than most marathons are nowadays. Those races are really long and challenging physically – that type of racing translates into you being stronger and fitter for mountain biking.

Nortje looks forward to a strong sani2c with Beers: “I think Matt and I are getting used to racing together. We saw at Tankwa Trek what we can do and where we can help each other, and we understand the way each other races. We don’t race together often, but we have developed well as a team and I can’t wait to race more with Matt. The level of racing in SA is definitely the highest it’s ever been, which is so amazing to see.

2023 kap sani2c mountain bike race from kwazulu natal in south africa
Matt Beers last competed at KAP sani2c in 2021, where he finished third.

KAP sani2c covers 265 kms in three days, starting from Glencairn farm in Himeville, near Underberg in the southern Drakensberg. Day two sees riders descend into the Umkomaas Valley, the legendary ‘Umko Drop’, and climb out the Unitrans Iconic Climb. On day three riders make their way through Vernon Crookes Game Reserve, indigenous forest and sugar cane fields to get to the sea at Scottburgh.

It’s the most beautiful course in South Africa,” says Nortje. “The trails are so fast, and well-maintained. You can immediately see the amount of work that goes into it, the event itself is amazing. I did the ‘tent’ tour with my first event and absolutely loved it. ‘Pro’ riders normally don’t sleep in the race village and spend time at these events, and I absolutely loved being with all the people – I just felt so part of the race.

Beers says: “We all go to sani2c because it’s something unique, and definitely one of my favourite races of the year. The terrain and the route is really beautiful. The level of racing is getting a lot higher in South Africa, which is fantastic. I think we can all benefit from each other to get better, and I think all of us are upping our game knowing that we are really strong as a nation. And we can do well internationally as well.

2023 kap sani2c mountain bike race from kwazulu natal in south africa
Marco Joubert (right) and Wessel Botha (following) will start the 2023 KAPsani2c as the reigning champions.

All professional team entries are yet to be finalised, but reigning champions Marco Joubert and Wessel Botha will line up alongside teammates Pieter du Toit and Franko van Zyl, and the Imbuko {Type} Dev team will also be fielding a women’s team with Danielle Strydom and Karla Stumpf.

The strong combination of youth and experience in Arno du Toit and Keagan Bontekoning for team Insect Science will be formidable opponents. Bontekoning has raced sani2c with Arno du Toit for the past two years, taking second last year. Du Toit knows what a win at sani2c feels like (2020 with Gert Heyns as team DSV), and will certainly have his sights set on another.

Du Toit and Bontekoning took 16th position at Epic last month, for them a disappointment after Bontekoning suffered with stomach issues. He says: “I do think I will be recovered and feeling ready for sani. The form I had going into Epic should definitely be there, so I am looking forward to it. It’s a race that suits us very well, so we are excited to take it head on and make the racing interesting.

2023 kap sani2c mountain bike race from kwazulu natal in south africa
Keagan Bontekoning (pictured) and Arno du Toit placed second in 2022 and look to be a strong team for this year’s Race.

On the topic of racing strategy at KAP sani2c, Bontekoning had this to say: “There’s quite a strong group of riders so tactics will definitely play a key role in winning the race, especially with a lot of the racing being really fast. I think day one suits us well as we are really good with the punchy stuff of day one, but day two also suits us as we like the long climbs. Day three can be quite a decisive day with a lot of punchy climbs and it’s also very fast. So yeah, we really enjoy the trails, the routes are really awesome, it is a race that I always look forward to, one of my highlights every year.

KAP sani2c Race takes place from 27-29 April. The Adventure version of the event takes place from 26-28 April, and follows the same 265 kms over three days. For the ‘weekend warriors’ and backmarkers joining the Race event at sani2c, the experience will be much like the Adventure, as the rest of the field spaces out and enjoys the riding at their own pace.

A unique element on day three is that the Pro riders start last, making their way through the full field past the slowest riders. This ensures that there are many riders already finished and a crowd waiting at the Scottburgh Golf Club to welcome in the winning teams, which creates a truly festive vibe. While the Adventure is sold out for 2023, there are still some entries available in the Race.
Next month, the KAP sani2c nonstop 24-hour race takes place on 13-14 May covering most of the sani2c route, all within a 24-hour cut-off period. To find out more and to enter the Race or nonstop, visit Entries close on 17 April. You can follow the live action of the KAP sani2c Race on their Instagram stories @_sani2c.

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