Team TIB cruise to overnight Sani Dragon lead

Photo - Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media

It was a three-man MTB show at the front of the first stage of the 2017 Sani Dragon, as the Team TIB pair of Andrew Hill and Reinhard Zellhuber, together with solo rider Tyronne White, cruised into the finish of the opening stage on Saturday.

A bit of rain on Friday afternoon threatened to cause chaos on the course, however the organising team and trail builders rallied to provide the field with exciting and flowing trails.

Team TIB were always going into the race as stand-out favourites and they lived up to their reputation by dominating the rest of the duos in the team category.

“The rain yesterday actually held the track together really nicely,” Team TIB’s Hill mentioned.

“The track through the plantations held together well and I think if there hadn’t been any rain it would have been quite powdery.”

Andrew Hill is no stranger to riding through the Southern Drakensberg, and the experienced campaigner was pleasantly surprised by the course.

“We were constantly riding through new sections of trail, it was great!

“I’ve been up here riding for most of my life and to see so many new trails was really exciting.

“It was cool to ride through a new section of trail that has been cut at the Premier Resort Sani Pass.

“I just want to say well done to Spurg (Flemington) and his team, it has been a great first day,” Hill added.

Hill’s partner, Reinhard Zellhuber, who won the Sani Dragon in 2016, understands the challenge that lies ahead on the second day, but he’s happy with how Team TIB went on the opening stage.

“We decided that we wanted to make a break quite early and about five kilometers in we got that break.

“After that we decided to ride together with Tyronne (White) and we had a great day on the bike.

“There were some amazing views along the way and I really enjoyed the route,” he commented.

It’s the first time that the pair have teamed up for a race and Zellhuber was full of praise for his experienced partner.

“It is an absolute privilege to ride with Andrew. I’ve always looked up to him from when I was a small boy and I’ve really enjoyed riding with him,” added Zellhuber.

The second and final stage of the Sani Dragon takes riders up and down the famous Sani Pass, a task that Zellhuber is familiar with.

“There is going to be a lot of pain out there tomorrow, that’s for sure!

“With that said it is going to be a lot of fun and we are looking forward to the challenge,” he concluded.

Coming home in second in the team event was Team Hattons’ Grant Lavers and Grant Underwood just under 20 minutes behind the leaders. Taking the final spot on the podium was the Thermi duo of Ivica Piktija and Johan van Aswagen.

The solo race was completely dominated by Tyronne White who crossed the finish line with the same time as the leading team. White goes into the second and final stage of the race with a formidable 10 minute buffer over 2016 team race winner Marc Fourie and Shaun Scott in third a further five minutes back.

The Sani Dragon Lite sees MTB enthusiasts take on 35 kilometres on the first stage and then 26 kilometres on the second stage and it was Andrew Pringle and Kelly Bedell-Sivright who crossed the line together after the opening stage on Saturday. Coming across the line in third was Jenny Lavers just under a minute behind the leading two riders.

The final stage will see riders leave the Premier Resort Sani Pass and tackle a tough 42 kilometre journey to the summit of Sani Pass and back to the Premier Resort Sani Pass.

For more information go to www.sanidragon.co.za

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Sani Dragon Stage One

Overall Team
1 Team TIB (Andrew Hill/Reinhard Zellhuber) 2:03:08
2 Team Hattons (Grant Lavers/Grant Underwood) 2:22:10
3 Thermi (Ivica Piktija/Johan van Aswagen) 2:38:45
4 Team Hotspot (JD Nel/Konrad Viljoen) 2:44:19
5 Mc Coffee (Bryan Kalitz/Gareth Cook) 2:45:40

Solo
1 Tyronne White 2:03:08
2 Marc Fourie 2:13:26
3 Shaun Scott 2:17:20

LITE
1 Andrew Pringle 2:48:10
2 Kelly Bedell-Sivright 2:48:10
3 Jenny Lavers 2:49:08