Paarl - Lance King, one of a handful of Berg River Canoe Marathon title contenders, sent out an early warning to his nearest rivals in Tuesday's time trial as he powered his way to a commanding twenty-one second victory and into the race leader's yellow jersey ahead of Wednesday's start of the 240km, four day race from Paarl to Velddrif in the Western Cape.
Whilst King reigned supreme at the front of the pack, a mere six seconds separated positions Ivan Kruger, Graeme Solomon and Pierre-Andre Rabie in second, third and fourth place respectively, further enforcing the belief that this year’s field could be one of the most closely matched the event has experienced in recent times.
Satisfied with his result King will hope to build on the positive start his result in the time trial has given him, particularly as nine-time former winner Hank McGregor will not take to the start line this year.
“Hank has always been super strong in the time trial, and the race for that matter, so it was nice to know the yellow jersey was up for grabs for everyone this year and I’m glad I was able to get my hands on it early,” said King.
“It doesn’t mean much ahead of tomorrow’s start but it’s always nice to make the first move and I was a little married that if I didn’t get it today then I wouldn’t get it at all so from that point of view I’m also pretty stoked,” he added.
Despite having finished a little further off the pace than the young powerhouse Ivan Kruger may have liked, the fast emerging talent was still pleased with his effort whilst the vastly experienced Graeme Solomon refused to read into the result too closely ahead of Wednesday’s start.
“Yeah, I felt good out there and was pretty happy with how things went for me,” said Kruger.
“The time trial doesn’t play much of a role when looking at the bigger picture of the race so I’m not all that bothered,” added Solomon.
2011 race runner-up Pierre-Andre Rabie, who together with the likes of King, Kruger and Solomon, form the core of this year’s expected title challengers, claimed fourth with Cape annual Louw van Riet producing a pleasing effort to claim fifth.
Dusi darling and Berg novice Sbonelo Zondi of the Computershare Change a Life Academy has been in sublime form back home in KZN and powered his way to sixth position in the time trial despite having never seen the river previously at all.
British former junior and senior World Marathon champion Ben Brown, expected by many to slice his way through the invitation-only field, came unstuck slightly in patches which saw him having to settle for seventh position overall, an effort he wasn’t entirely pleased with however the result may well fuel his fire in the early stages of Wednesday’s opening day.
Day one of the 2013 Berg River Canoe Marathon from Paarl to Zonquasdrift starts at 09h30. More information can be found at www.berg.org.za
Summary of results from the Berg River Canoe Marathon time trial:
1.Lance King 26.48
2.Ivan Kruger 27.07
3.Graeme Solomon 27.09
4.Pierre-Andre Rabie 27.13
5.Louw van Riet 27.25
6.Sbonelo Zondo 27.38
7.Ben Brown 27.45
8.Luke Stowman 27.46
9.Gavin White 27.57
10.Edgar Boehm Jnr. 27.59