The Team TIB duo of Andrew Hill and Henry Liebenberg were in a class of their own as they powered to victory at stage one of the 2017 dusi2c on Saturday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

The 64km first stage took riders from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Mfula Store in the heart of the Valley of a Thousand Hills and despite an eleventh-hour withdrawal from Julian Jessop, Hill's original race partner, due to sickness, Liebenberg's inclusion was not a burden as the TIB duo were a class apart.

There were a handful of teams hoping to compete with the pre-race favourites but the pace at the front of the field was furnace-like and so the competitive race was for second place with the RMB Change a Life team of Ndumiso Dontso and Mboneni Ngcobo claiming second on the stage.

Hill and his young partner Liebenberg's tactics were simple going into the race and they managed to execute their game plan with aplomb.

"There isn't a lot of time to catch up on day two so we knew that we had to get ahead during the first stage," Hill mentioned from the overnight stop at Mfula Store.

"Henry hasn't done a lot of stage races so we wanted to keep the pressure off ourselves and it was good that we managed to get a solid lead.

"He is quite new to multi-stage events so it is nice for me to be able to share some knowledge and experience with him along the way.

"It's good for him to try and develop his stage racing technique as opposed to the cross country racing technique. He's really good at the technical stuff so there were stretches where he took the lead but I know the route so we both took turns at the front."

The race is always bunched going through Pietermaritzburg and Hill knew that it was important for him and Liebenberg to take advantage of any gap that they could create early.

Mboneni Ngcobo (pictured) along with Ndumiso Dontos rode into second place overall at stage one of the 2017 dusi2c on Saturday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

"It is always a bun fight getting into the first bit of single track first and once we got through the city we were able to open up a bit of a gap and remain in front.

"We knew that if another team was going to come with us then we would have to ride a bit more carefully but we got ahead and managed to build on a slight lead early on.

"Stage two is really fast and we won't want to make any mistakes," Hill highlighted.

At the river crossing, three-quarters into the stage, there was a bunch of teams fighting it out for second and third, however a mechanical for Change a Life's Mazwi Smimango and Scelo Mhlongo opened the door for Bluff Meat Supplies' Warren Price and Trevor Rowe to slip into the final podium spot for a short period of time.

The Parker-Dennison duo of Candice and Wesley were on top form as they won the mixed category on stage one of the 2017 dusi2c on Saturday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

The Bluff Meat Supplies team were put under serious pressure by Think 360's Brennan Anderson and Jason Davies, who managed to get ahead of the 2016 runners-up and took ownership of the final podium spot by just over a minute from Price and Rowe who arrived at Mfula Store in fourth place.

The Parker-Dennison sibling pair of Candice and Wesley were always going to be the mixed team to beat at this year's dusi2c and they lived up to their pre-race hype to take a dominant stage one victory of more than 20 minutes over Bigg Brown's Craig Carter-Brown and Susan Machpesh while the Team Expresso duo of Emma Pons and Grant Johl finished third in the mixed category.

The ladies showdown has been keenly contested however it is the Drop off Daisies racing pair of Rialette Kruger and Sarah Matcher who hold the cards going into the second stage to Durban.

They are being chased by Rolling Thunder's Esther Venter Ferreira and Natasha Jansen van Vuuren in second and three minutes behind them is the Wandering Wheels team of Liz Botha and Marlene Conradie.

The characteristic '2c' floating bridge made an appearance on stage one of the 2017 dusi2c on Saturday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

The second and final stage of the dusi2c is a 60km stretch from Mfula Store to Blue Lagoon on KwaZulu-Natal's East Coast.

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