Eyes on top prize money at KAP sani2c

sani, kwazulu natal, south africa 20 april 2023 | preview of the sani2c mountain bike stage race

KAP sani2c is known for its sizable prize purse and 2023 is no exception, with R 550 000 up for grabs across the various categories.

sani, kwazulu natal, south africa 20 april 2023 | preview of the sani2c mountain bike stage race
 Sam Sanders is a seasoned sani2c competitor, with many podium positions to her name

The top three men’s teams and the top three women’s teams will receive equal prize money, as well as the top three Young Guns men and women. While some of the category prizes may be affected by the number of entries per category, the categories are as follows:

  • Open/Overall, Men and Women (19+)
  • Young Guns, Men and Women (Under 23) 
  • Veteran, Men and Women (40-49)
  • Sub-Veteran Men (30-39)
  • Veteran Men (40-49)
  • Master Men (50+)
  • Grand Master Men (60+)
  • Mixed Team (19+)

HB Kruger, who will be racing with Rossouw Bekker for Valley Electrical Titan Racing, says that the prize money leads to proper racing and makes the racing hard: “It is always motivating to see organisers putting down good prize money at the bigger events, as pro athletes in South Africa we get little chance to compete for proper prize money, and there are only a handful of events per year that actually offer proper prize money. It is almost a no-brainer to compete for the prize purse, and when it is good, it brings some good competition.”

sani, kwazulu natal, south africa 20 april 2023 | preview of the sani2c mountain bike stage race
HB Kruger has competed at 5 KAP sani2c Races, and was the 12th rider overall last year

Samantha Sanders, who will race with defending champion Kim Le Court for Efficient Infiniti Racing, agrees that the prize money is a motivator: “It certainly is an incentive. As a pro athlete, I personally do consider prize money when choosing events. At the end of the day, I have to consider whether an event is worth attending relative to the time and effort I put into my training, as well as the time it will take away from training or preparing for another.” 

KAP sani2c founder Glen Haw says the elite rider experience is one they pay attention to: “As much as sani2c is geared to provide the full range of riders with the ride of their lives , we also feel strongly about supporting those who do this for a living, and in such a challenging climate for mountain bikers sourcing sponsorship, key events having good prize money is important to the industry.” 

sani, kwazulu natal, south africa 20 april 2023 | preview of the sani2c mountain bike stage race
Wessel Botha (pictured in front) comes to the 2023 Edition, with Marco Joubert, as defending champion 

Defending champions Wessel Botha and Marco Joubert will again be riding for Imbuko {TypeDev}. Botha says the prize money is a really, really great thing: “I think a lot of races have a big first place and then second almost nothing, where at sani2c it’s a good first place prize and it goes down gradually all the way to fifth place. Also, having the Young Guns category is super cool. I used to be one of the younger guys, and it’s a big incentive for them to come to the stage races and see what they’ve got. I think it’s a great initiative from sani.”

Sarah Hill will be paired with Elrika Harmzen, riding as HH Womens’ Racing.  “As a team that’s currently not sponsored, when I saw the prize money I just had a huge sigh of relief, because I knew if we do our absolute best, that we could come top three, and if we do, that means our season will be extended. To be able to compete for income, essentially, that’s going to fuel the extension of our season, is just absolutely incredible. To have such a big investment go into the woman’s field is huge. So we’re grateful.

The Pros overnight in the Race Villages

Another unique element at sani2c is that many of the pro riders stay in the race village, camping and attending meals along with other participants. Kruger says: “Being in the race village at sani2c is always special because it is one of the few events where you are able to sit down after a stage and connect with other riders that are busy racing the same race. You get to hear war stories first hand from mates that are busy racing their own race, whether they are competing for a podium or taking on their first sani, you get to hear it from their perspective, which is cool.” 

Sanders says: “The race village vibe is a blast but also very comfortable. Every year we arrive finding new or upgraded facilities at the villages, showing that the event is truly invested in the ‘Rider Experience’.”

The reverse start on Day 3

And then there is the reverse start. Slower riders experience the racing up close and personal, as the A batch starts last on day 3 and needs to pass the full field of riders on their way to Scottburgh. The main reason for this is for there to be finishers and supporters at the finish at the Scottburgh Golf Club.

sani, kwazulu natal, south africa 20 april 2023 | preview of the sani2c mountain bike stage race
 A unique feature of KAP sani2c is the reverse order start on Day 3

Kruger says: “sani2c is one of the few events which has been able to keep the Pro racing alive, and I think the last day with the reverse start has added to the hype for the front end of the field. From the five sani2c races  I’ve done, we have had little issues with people not making way or letting us pass safely and it is great arriving at the finish full of spectators and a crowd waiting to see who wins the stage and the race overall.” 

Sanders says: “My personal experience with the reverse start at sani2c is positive. I have always found that the slower riders we end up catching, are incredibly courteous, and even take the time to cheer us on as we pass. I think the trick is to alert them in a friendly and calm fashion that you are approaching.”

sani, kwazulu natal, south africa 20 april 2023 | preview of the sani2c mountain bike stage race
Sarah Hill (left) was last at KAP sani2c in 2019, where she came second, paired with Theresa Ralph 

Hill says she loves it: “I think it is so fun. It allows us racing snakes to have a little bit more empathy and understanding when we pass people. You need to make decisions on how you’re going to pass them and how you’re going to encourage riders when you pass them. If you can get around a group and then attack, you have a gap. So it keeps us racers really tight together and it becomes a lot more tactical, and a lot more fun. For me, it’s an opportunity to see the crowd. As a cycling coach in the industry, a lot of the people who race are people who I coach, and they’re wanting to do their best. It allows the riders at the back to see their own potential for growth I think. Maybe they have a mate who starts in the group behind them on day 3, who was always in the group in front – it can make you push yourself a little bit more; it’s an inspiring environment.

For those not riding sani2c, the race will be broadcast live on Instagram stories, so you can be up close and personal for all three days and experience the speed of these incredible athletes. The Race starts on 27 April and finishes at Scottburgh on 29 April. Follow @_sani2c on Instagram

| IMAGES: Anthony Grote |

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