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Atlas Copco turns the cogs in a bid to help uplift previously disadvantaged communities

Seven two-rider teams from Atlas Copco, made up of employees and customers, will be participating in this year’s epic Sani2C three-day, 265-kilometre cycling race for the third time.

As one of the most sought-after annual cycling events on South Africa’s mountain bike race calendar, Sani2C takes place from 26 to 29 April 2023. Alongside an exhilarating cycling adventure, the race also benefits countless communities, schools, charities and environmental groups along the route through developing skills, creating jobs and forging commercial opportunities.

“This is the primary reason why Atlas Copco continues to support this charitable race,” says GM of Atlas Copco Compressor Technique, Pieter van Wyk. “As a foremost organisation on South Africa’s mining and industrial landscape, we are committed to giving back to communities where we and our customers operate. So, while this is a great event that will test you and push you to new limits on a mountain bike, it means so much more to Atlas Copco. It’s about what we, as a company, can do for local communities. The Sani2c Community Development Trust aims to give children access to education and to creating funding opportunities for improvements to schools along the route. So if we can contribute to adding classrooms/facilities to a school or create employment opportunities, it makes the effort worthwhile.”

Byrone Thorne, Sales & Marketing Manager for Rand Air, an accomplished cyclist with 17 years’ experience, will be joining Pieter in their third Sani2C. “The enjoyment of a great mountain biking track through some remote and rural areas, surrounded by beautiful scenery, coupled with tremendous team spirit, is amplified by knowing that some of the proceeds from the event goes towards assisting communities in need,” comments Byrone.

He also points out that it’s a great branding and networking initiative as many companies and customers in related industries partake in the event. Pieter agrees: “You get to meet and engage with people you know from work or as business partners, on a different level and have the opportunity to get to know them a little better.”

The Atlas Copco cycling teams have built a solid reputation over the years with all cyclists finishing in 2021 and 2022. “This is not about where you finish, but rather to enjoy the experience. This is also why we are in the Adventure event and not the Race event,” shares Pieter who has been cycling for seven years. In 2022, Pieter and his team finished 3rd out of the nine Atlas Copco teams. But he says that this year the plan is to take it slow and enjoy the atmosphere and scenery a little more. “We are cycling through a beautiful part of our country that not many people get to see so we are going to take time to enjoy and appreciate it!”

Most participants agree that day two is by far the most challenging, especially with climbs like the approximately 100km Iconic, with close to 2000m of elevation gain. However, Pieter feels that day three is mentally the toughest. “You expect this to be an ‘easier’ day, looking at the profile, but it’s not! It is tough, warm and humid with a lot of short steep climbs to keep you busy the whole day.” Byrone says that he finds the first day to be the toughest as it is quite fast, bumpy and technical. “At the same time there are some challenging hills towards the end. Stage 2 has lots of climbing, so is a long day in the saddle.”

After a long strenuous day, the participants look forward to the over-night camp sites where they can unwind, rest their weary muscles, enjoy a meal and recharge, be ready for what awaits them the next day. Over the years Atlas Copco/Rand Air have played a key role in ensuring that the camps are well equipped and perfectly set up for this event through the donation of lighting towers and generators to provide essential lighting and power. The organisation also sponsors the complete bike wash area, as well as the bike park, where all the bikes are kept overnight.

Also lauding the well-organised camp sites is Atlas Copco customer, Edward England, Regional Manager at Kiloton Hydraulics Pneumatics Tools & Abrasives (Pty) Ltd. who will be participating in Sani2C for the second time as one of the Atlas Copco branded teams. “Sani2C is really a super race; I participate both for the experience and simply because I enjoy riding,” observes Edward, who is a seasoned cyclist with 20 years in the saddle.

Pieter and Byrone agree that the amazing atmosphere and camaraderie that exist at the over-night camp sites are what this event is all about. “Listening to the organisers’ briefing, getting prepped for the next day, sharing war stories of the day and discussing ‘strategies for tomorrow’ make the race complete. “It’s probably the best part of the whole Sani experience.” 

The Atlas Copco support crew is a critical component to the race. This team assists with getting the Atlas Copco teams prepped and ready before the start, on the route and after each day. In addition to carrying critical bike parts like pumps, repair kits, brakes and tyres, they also provide much-needed drinks and snacks.

The crew assist tired cyclists get their bikes into the wash area and to the Atlas Copco gazebo. “Our support crew really gives us peace of mind and seeing that gazebo at the end of every day is a most welcome site!” says Pieter. “This support has been key to making the event a success each year and we know that we can again count on our amazing crew this year – Max Larue, Pieter du Plooy, Bradley Seetsi and Katlego Ntsie from Compressor Technique, Bongani Ndlovu from Atlas Copco Holding and Rand Air’s Mpho Ngamlane and Nikita Naidoo,” adds Byrone.

“We wish all seven Atlas Copco teams a successful and above all, safe race, right up to the finishing line!” conclude Pieter and Byrone.

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