Words: Lange Sports
After an impressive 24 victories across the board for the first three months of the 2014 season, Team RECM had a deserved break from racing and are ready to tackle the 830km of racing that lies ahead over the next seven weeks.
The next block sees the team head up North from Stellenbosch and base themselves in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng for the next 7 weeks. The team will be travelling between the two provinces, with a major focus being the South African National Championships in Pietermaritzburg on 8 June, and culminating with the UCI World Marathon Championships on the same course as SA Champs, on Sunday, 29 June.
But before we get to World Champs, there are seven weeks of tough racing ahead, starting off with Nedbank Sani2c this coming weekend.
TEAM RECM MEN
Our Men's race pairing will see the Lion King, Erik Kleinhans, teaming up with Absa Cape Epic team mate, and MTN Clarens winner, Nico Bell.
Kleinhans has been home alone for the last few weeks as his wife, Ariane Kleinhans, has been visiting home in Switzerland for the best part of a month. Erik's training regime has meant many long hours in the saddle with Ariane away, but this is possibly in an attempt to ease his broken heart a little too.
Bell, on the other hand, has been seen more in the Lowveld of late, participating in the Lowveld Quest and MTN Panorama Tour as training for his build up. On his first race back in action, Nico extended his lead in the MTN National Marathon Series when he rode away from Absa Cape Epic legend, Karl Platt (Team Bulls), to take the win at the fourth race of the series in Clarens two weeks ago.
Together, Kleinhans and Bell are hoping to better their Absa Cape Epic finish, a very credible eighth overall and second in the Africa jersey competition, after riding as the back up team for second overall Christoph Sauser and Frantisek Rabon (Team Meerendal Songo Specialized).
TEAM RECM MIXED
Ariane Kleinhans will once again be looking to sharpen her legs when she takes the start line in Underberg in the Mixed category, but for the first time since her stage racing career began, she won't be racing with husband Erik, but rather with RECM team mate, Lourens Luus.
Kleinhans, together with two time former World XCM champion, and current Danish XCO Champ, Annika Langvad, Team RECM Women not only won the Women's race overall, but also 7 out of the 8 stages at this year's Absa Cape Epic, as well as finished an incredible 23rd overall.
For both Kleinhans and Langvad, the race was anything but easy as they had to turn a deficit of almost 23 minutes around after a treacherous day of mechanicals on Stage 1, but their conviction never faltered, and they not only made the lost time up, but also finished the race with over 37 minutes ahead of second placed MTB legends, Sally Bigham and Ester Suss (Team Meerendal).
Being the youngest member of the team, Lourens Luus has yet to start a stage race in 2014 as he has get himself goals for the one day classics for this season. He'll have big shoes to fill in the absence of both Erik and Annika from Ariane's side, but he's more than willing to give his stage race legs a go again in his preparation for the upcoming race schedule.
NEDBANK SANI2C STAGES
Thursday, 15 May Stage 1 - Underberg to MacKenzie Club
82km with 1230m ascent