Their winning time was 2:49:04. Second on the stage in the elite men’s category were Johann Rabie and HB Kruger (Team Telkom) in 2:50:25, followed by Konny Looser and Fabian Giger (Kross Bikes BiXS Pro Team) in 2:50:49.
Sauser has competed twice at W2W and claimed gold in 2014, while Gaze is the current U23 Cross-Country World Champion.
“Konny and Fabian had some technical issues after the first climb. We went flat out afterwards riding into a headwind, and managed to drop Team Telkom at the second waterpoint,” said Sauser.
In the women’s race Robyn De Groot and Jennie Stenerhag (Ascendis Health) took the honours in 3:16:03, followed by Ariane Kleinhans and Cherie Redecker (Team Spur) in 3:19:06 with Theresa Ralph and Samantha Sanders (Galileo Risk Valencia) rounding out the podium in 3:25:23.
“The beginning was tight with three teams in front. Candice Neethling’s (Team Dormakaba Time Freight) bike suffered a puncture. We then rode with Ariane and Cherie. After the portage section we broke away,” said Stenerhag.
“Going into stage two we’ll just do what we normally do and hope that it’s enough.”
The mixed team race was dominated by husband and wife duo Martin and Jeannie Dreyer (Team Merchant) in 3:24:54. Corrie Muller and Mari Rabie (Team Movepretty) was second in 3:33:53, while James Lennard and Katie Lennard (Team Gear Change Mixed) finished third in 3:39:20.