Knox and Niyonshuti win sani2c
Max Knox and Adrien Niyonshuti's luck changed on Saturday when an error by the overnight leaders handed the duo the overall victory in the Subaru Sani2c mountainbike race in Scottburgh.
After 78 kilometres of furious racing from Highflats in southern KwaZulu-Natal, the MTN-DoItNow pair crossed the finish line behind stage three winners Neil MacDonald and Waylon Woolcock (RE:CM) to snatch overall victory from Kevin Evans and David George (Nedbank 360Life).
Evans and George dropped to third in the standings behind MacDonald and Woolcock with Paul Cordes and Charles Keey (MTN-Qhubeka) moving into fourth overall after finishing third on the final stage.
Drama unfolded in the closing stages when race leaders Evans and George missed a route marker and veered off course, effectively signalling the end of their challenge for the stage and overall victories.
"At the recent joBerg2c nothing went our way," said Knox, who took his first win after three previous runner-up spots.
"You just have to keep your head down and keep going. This time everything worked out for us.
"To be honest, I haven't felt good for two days, but this is such a great race and I didn't want to do it an injustice by pulling out."
Knox said he had left 360Life's appeal in the hands of the judges.
"I'm not sure what will happen, but I'll take it as it comes," he said.
A disappointed Evans said he and George were going for the stage victory after distancing their rivals on Heart Rate Hill, about 15km from the finish.
"A taxi was kicking up a lot of dust and we missed the turn-off," Evans said.
"We realised we had left the course when there were no more markers, so we turned back."
Catherine Williamson and Candice Neethling (Team bizhub) won their second stage of the race to take overall victory in the women's section ahead of early leaders Cherise Taylor and Karien van Jaarsveld (USN), whose progress was marred by two crashes.
Hanlie Booyens and Michelle Lombardi (Salomon) were third on the final stage, cementing the same place in the general classification.
"We didn't come into the race as firm favourites. The other girls were stronger on paper," Williamson said.
Taylor and Van Jaarsveld took the early initiative by winning a closely contested first stage, but surrendered their lead through the Umkomaas Valley the following day.
"Day two was always going to be decisive," Williamson said.
Erik and Ariane Kleinhans (Contego) continued their love affair with multi-stage races this year when they added the mixed title to the one they won at the recent joBerg2c race.