Saturday, 31 March 2012

Cape Epics stage 6


Stage six took riders from Oak Valley back to Oak Valley over a distance of 83km with 2 200m of climbing, but do not be fooled by the distance of this stage. It was a hard day of climbing and Nuweberg was the first big challenge with the dangling carrot of stunning vistas at the top. On the penultimate day, nearing the climax of race week, the grand old lady Groenlandberg appeared. Deep into this highly unique and remote landscape, riders would savour the solitude of the 30-kilometre of dual tracks through the pristine Cape Nature reserve as they tackled her in two parts. The first steady rise brought them to a rutted descent. From here the path contoured along the side of this beautiful mountain, then it was the final ascent towards the saddle, followed by yet another tricky, washed-out descent. Again, riders got to enjoy the twisting single track on Paul Cluver before finishing off with fast and flat single-track on Oak Valley.


Men’s Category

Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life showed their true form by winning Stage 6 of this year’s Absa Cape Epic in a time of 3:38.05,8 (overall 29:37.36,3), 6 minutes and 44,5 seconds ahead of South African–Swiss duo, Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser of Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized (3:44.50,3; overall 29:11.39,0). Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen of Topeak Ergon Racing finished in third place in 3:47.01,6 (29:43.14,0), with Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking in fourth place in 3:47.05,3 (overall 29:40.26,0). In fifth place were the Bulls 2 team of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme who finished in a time of 3:47.29,5 (overall 29:42.25,5) with the Bulls 1 team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm in sixth place in 3:50.34,9 (overall 30:24.39,5).

Stander and Sauser (Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized) remain in the lead in this category by 25 minutes and 57,3 seconds. Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life have moved back onto the podium in second place overall, with Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking in third place overall.

Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life retain the Absa African leader jersey four the fourth consecutive day.

Siphosenkosi Madolo and Azukile Simayile of Exxaro Academy 9 remain in the lead for the Exxaro Development jersey.

Says today’s winner Kevin Evans of 360Life: “At least today my wife’s not stressed! And she’s not here even though I asked her to come. I'm very happy. It’s really good to get a win but even better to be on the overall podium. This year was such a rollercoaster ride for us. We’ll be happy with finishing in second place and will work with that. The cheering and support are amazing. Today was very tough and hard, but we’re feeling positive and will definitely have enough in the tank to get to Lourensford Wine Estate. What we’ve been through made us very strong.” Adds team mate David George: “ “We’re ecstatic with the victory. It was so emotional - winning the stage meant so much. We came out fighting for the win - it was our intention to win this stage.  But there is still one stage to go and it’ll be important to race, but at the same time ride within ourselves.”

Burry Stander of Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized comments: “We didn't set the pace today and just followed. They wanted to prove something and it’s always hard to beat a team with a mindset like that. We just kept our own pace. We’re still feeling strong and look forward to a cracker of a last day to Lourensford. We don't know if we’ll win the stage, but we’ll definitely try. Maybe we can help Max and Kohei. It would be great to help them win a stage.” Christoph Sauser adds: “We just rode at our own pace today. We didn't need to take any chances and the most important part was to get back safely today and to finish tomorrow. I think it’s only big mechanicals that can rob us of an overall victory now. We’ll be focused to finish safely and will definitely try to help Max and Kohei to win at Lourensford Wine Estate.”

Alban Lakata of Topeak Ergon Racing says the Absa Cape Epic is a rollercoaster. “Every day I feel different. One day I feel strong and the next day I'm suffering. We’re very happy to be on the podium again and really look forward to a strong finish at Lourensford tomorrow.” His team mate Robert Mennen adds: “I’m feeling better than I expected and I’m also happy. Tomorrow is our last chance to try and get on the overall podium because that was our goal from the start.”

The Bulls 2 team of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme dropped off the overall podium today. Says Tim Boehme: “Today was just not my day. I suffered the whole day. When 360Life attacked, we just couldn't do anything about it." Adds Thomas Dietsch: “I suffered at the start and it was only on Groenlandberg that I found my legs. It’s disappointing to have lost our spot in the GC (General Classification), but it’s just so tough this Cape Epic."


Ladies Category

The Ladies category was again won by Sally Bigham and Esther Süss of Wheels4Life in 4:35.45,3 (35:19.59,6), securing their sixth stage win in this year’s Absa Cape Epic. They were followed by the Biogen Britehouse team of Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler in 4:43.57,9 (overall 36:07.01,0). Karien van Jaarsveld and Jane Nüssli of MTN Qhubeka finished in third place in a time of 4:49.50,3 (overall 36:47.14,5).

Bigham and Süss (Wheels4Life) lead the Biogen Britehouse team Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler by 47 minutes and 1,4 seconds. MTN Qhubeka’s Karien van Jaarsveld and Jane Nüssli remain in third place overall.

The amateur team of Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler of Biogen Britehouse has done exceptionally well at this year’s Absa Cape Epic, competing against some of the world’s most experienced professional female riders. Says Nina Gässler of Biogen Britehouse: “I can smile again today. I enjoyed the stage with its nice trails so much. We just wanted to finish on the podium in one stage – that was our dream beforehand and we’ve surpassed that. To be second behind Sally and Esther is like first place for us. They are my idols.” Adds Theresa Ralph: “We had so much fun and it was much better than yesterday. We knew parts of today’s route and that made it all the more enjoyable. We enjoyed racing today - yesterday was survival and not racing. Getting safely to the finish and enjoying the feeling is the only plan for tomorrow.”

Karien van Jaarsveld of MTN Qhubeka adds: "We just want to get safely to the finish line tomorrow. It was a hard race."

Telkom Business Master’s Category

Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers of World Bicycle Relief secured their second stage win in 4:07.22,9 (overall 32:46.34,1). They were followed by the Jag Craft team of Adrian Enthoven and Delaney Impey in 4:42.31,2 (overall 34:04.15,1). Dennis du Toit and Noel Droomer of Samaritan’s Feet 2 secured their first podium finish today in 4:45.38,0 (overall 36:53.13,8)

Nico Pfitzenmaier and Robert Sim of Robert Daniel Momsen decided not to withdraw after Pfitzenmaier’s bad fall and injuries yesterday, but to ride at an easy pace and try to complete this year’s event.  

Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers now lead the Masters category by 1 hour, 17 minutes and 41 seconds. Adrian Enthoven and Delaney Impey of Jag Craft  moved up to second place with Warren Squires and Scott Mckenzie of Complete Cyclist in third place overall.

Bart Brentjens of World Bicycle Relief says he it was great to win this stage. “But an easy stage it wasn't. Every day at the Absa Cape Epic is hard and today was no different. It was a beautiful stage though. I'm glad we kept the lead and we’re now looking forward to the finish." Adds Jan Weevers: “I now realise that I wasn't ready for the Cape Epic at all. It’s getting better though. I found my rhythm and can enjoy it. I've done lots of races in my career, but the Cape Epic has become one of my favourites."

Mixed Category

Showing no strain after yesterday’s tough stage in which Ariane Kleinhans developed hyperthermia, the Contego 28E team of Erik and Ariane Kleinhans won the Mixed category for the sixth day in a row in 4:36.42,8 (overall 34:26.29,2). They were followed by Udo Boelts and Milena Landtwing of Centurion Vaude in a time of 4:46.13,7 (overall 36:19.49,0), followed by Klaas Vanmoortel and Inne Gantois of BAiK-Peak Performance Brugge in 4:52.04,7 (overall 37:13.58,9).

Erik and Ariane Kleinhans of Contego 28E lead Udo Boelts and Milena Landtwing of Centurion Vaude by 1 hour, 53 minutes and 19 seconds. Klaas Vanmoortel and Inne Gantois of BAiK-Peak Performance Brugge remain in third place overall.

Says Udo Boelts of Centurion Vaude: "We’re feeling good again but the Absa Cape Epic only finishes at Lourensford Wine Estate tomorrow and we’ll relax then. Today was so much better after all the mechanicals and suffering of the previous days. I must be honest, we’re very happy with our second place overall. It’s Milena’s first Absa Cape Epic and it’s very tough for her. She said that the TransAlp is kids’ stuff compared to this event. Riding in the Mixed category is totally different and harder than racing in the Masters, but all in all this was a special experience for both of us.” Adds Milena Landtwing: “Today was a good day. I'm not going to say that I'm enjoying the experience... maybe tomorrow, but this was so hard.  I just want to get to the finish now.”

STAGE SEVEN – FINAL STAGE

Start and finish: Oak Valley/Elgin to Lourensford Wine Estate (64km, 1350m of climbing)

Dr. Evil has found a new way to the Champs Elysees of mountain biking, again reminding riders there’s no easy day at the Absa Cape Epic. Lourensford Wine Estate awaits the tired athletes as they make their way from Oak Valley over Twin Peaks above the Elgin Dam and down the ever-familiar portage section of Gamtouw Pass. Once again, participants follow the footsteps of the Voortrekkers, their tyres tracing the wagon-wheel grooves down to Journeys End Winery. The last water point offers a final reward, before a last test of resolve – a few steep ascents with magnificent views of False Bay and Table Mountain. Once again, Lourensford Wine Estate hosts the Grand Finale festivities as riders experience that bitter-sweet feeling at the end of the arduous, yet epic journey of the Absa Cape Epic.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Cape Epic, stage 5


Stage 5 took riders from Caledon to Oak Valley in Elgin, a distance of 119km, with 2 350m of climbing. Dr. Evil had one aim on Stage five – get riders to that farmed Oak Valley single-track as soon as possible. So it was a fast, flowing start, before heading to the fynbos-lined mountain tracks. As they edged closer to Elgin/Grabouw, riders’ morale was buoyed by the striking views from the Highlands Plateau onto the Botrivier Lagoon and Kleinmond beach. A steady 10-kilomtre climb took them through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, famous for its biodiversity and rare fynbos. Then, it was a combination of new and old flowing single-track through Lebanon, Thandi and Oak Valley on some unforgettable loops in apple country. The last few steep single-track climbs threw some devastating combination punches to the legs in the final push towards the lush fields of the race village in Oak Valley.

Men’s Category

The Men’s category of Stage 5 of this year’s Absa Cape Epic was again won in a sprint finish by the unbeatable South African–Swiss duo of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser (Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized), in a time of 5:06.45,3 (overall 25:26.48,7). This is their fifth stage win in this year’s event. With only 1 second apart, the Bulls 2 team of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme finished in second place in a time of 5:06.46,0 (overall 25:54.56,0). In third place again today were Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking in a time of 5:07.49,1 (overall 25:53.20,7). Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen of Topeak Ergon Racing finished fourth (5:07.54,2, overall 25:56.12,4) with South Africa’s 360Life team of Kevin Evans and David George in fifth place in 5:14.25,9 (overall 25:59.30,5).

Stander and Sauser (Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized) remain in the lead in this category by 26 minutes and 32 seconds. Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking moved up one position to second place overall, with the Bulls 2 team of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme in third place, 1 minutes and 35 seconds behind them. Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen of Topeak Ergon Racing are now placed fourth overall, with Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life in fifth place overall.

For the third day in a row, the Absa African leader jersey was won by Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life.

Siphosenkosi Madolo and Azukile Simayile of Exxaro Academy 9 are still the leaders in race for the Exxaro Development jersey.

A disappointed Kevin Evans of 360Life explains what happened along the route: “I cut my back tyre between water points 2 and 3. After we fixed it, I really struggled to find my rhythm again. We’re very disappointed to again have had bike trouble. As if it’s not hard enough already, we’re making life more difficult for ourselves. It was one of the worst days on a bike and I’ve had a few in my career!"

Christoph Sauser of Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized says: “Today was very challenging. The rain stopped and then it started again. It’s never ever been this wet at the Absa Cape Epic before. The backmarkers are going to struggle a lot in these conditions. We rode for the stage win today and extra time in the GC (General Classification) is a bonus. Tomorrow is going to be very daunting with the climbs and the conditions." Adds Burry Stander: “I prefer the heat! I took my rain jacket off with 35km to go when the sun came out. Big mistake! Soon I got so cold and was struggling. When Christoph upped the pace, I wasn't too impressed and had some choice words for him in my mind! I was starting to feel better though and only the Bulls stayed with us. It was nice to ride with them because they pushed us."

Says Tim Boehme of the Bulls 2 team: "We were very close to our first stage victory. Second place is nice enough though as it was such a tough stage. It’s really nice to be on the overall podium but Oak Valley is not the end, so we’re not celebrating yet. The conditions were crazy out there and it rained a lot." Adds his riding partner Thomas Dietsch: “I suffered more yesterday, but today was hard because we gave so much to stay in front. We were very close to first place, so we do feel some disappointment, but I'm happy as well with our podium finish."

Hannes Genze of Multivan Merida Biking says it feels good to be at the finish. “I hope the camper is warm! We’re now second overall which is great, but we only moved up due to the problems 360Life had. Then again, it happens in the Cape Epic. Hopefully we can keep going strong for the last two days. Our bodies and minds are getting stronger and we’re happy with our performance." Adds Andreas Kugler: “It was so hard, wet and cold out there. It felt like the Swiss Alps! It will be a big fight tomorrow for second and third on the overall podium."

Adrian Niyontshuti is now riding as an ‘outcast’ after his partner Jacques Janse van Rensburg withdrew yesterday due to a bad fall and illness.

Ladies Category

The Ladies category was won by Karien van Jaarsveld and Jane Nüssli of MTN Qhubeka in a time of 6:15.11,4 (overall 31:57.24,2), ahead of Biogen Britehouse team Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler in a time of 6:40.52,8 (overall 31:23.03,1). Sally Bigham and Esther Süss of Wheels4Life finished in third place today in a time of 6:43.10,8 (overall 30:44.14,3).

Bigham and Süss (Wheels4Life) lead the Biogen Britehouse team Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler by 38 minutes and 49 seconds. MTN Qhubeka’s Karien van Jaarsveld and Jane Nüssli remain in third place overall.

Says Karien van Jaarsveld of MTN Qhubeka: "Today was nice after yesterday's very low point. It all came together for us. I think we just made our GC place safer today. We won't stop racing until Lourensford Wine Estate. The last few kilometres were so cold because of all the downhills. I got hungry!" Adds team mate Jane Nüssli: “Winning the stage was perfect. It all worked out great because this is my kind of weather. We’ll just keep on racing, whatever the outcome."

Says Esther Süss of Wheels4Life: “We were all very cold and we had mechanical problems when Sally's shifter broke before the first water point. I barely managed to finish today. I don't know how I did it."

Telkom Business Master’s Category

Securing their first stage win, Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers of World Bicycle Relief finished in 5:24.37,5 (overall 28:39.11,2). They were followed by the Jag Craft team of Adrian Enthoven and Delaney Impey in 6:15.25,8 (overall 29:21.43,9). Dirk Rossignol and Ignace Spruyt of Rossi Spruyt finished in third place in a time of 6:22.31,3 (overall 31:52.25,2). Nico Pfitzenmaier and Robert Sim (Robert Daniel Momsen) finished in sixth place today after Pfitzenmaier had a bad fall. Their time was 6:36.53,3 (overall 28:57.12,5).

Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers now lead the Masters category by 18 minutes and 1 second. Robert Sim and Nico Pfitzenmaier are in second place overall, followed by Adrian Enthoven and Delaney Impey in third place overall.

Nico and Robert looked shattered when they crossed the finish line. Nico crashed really badly and gashed his knee and shin. He had medical treatment for more than 20 minutes. Says Robert Sim of Robert Daniel Momsen: "Nico fell on a really big rock. The moment it happened, he said that it was over, but he got back on his bike and we finished. I don't know if he’s going to be riding tomorrow. He is a tough guy, but that fall was scary."

Bart Brentjens of World Bicycle Relief says he feels comfortable in this kind of weather. “We had a good today. We talked and worked nicely together in the conditions today. Others had bad luck and we now have the lead. We just have to keep it now! It’s a nice advantage and we’ll work with that." Adds Jan Weevers: "I'm very surprised but also excited. I didn't expect it, but we worked really hard. Bart is so much stronger than me, so I had to dig deep. These conditions and the route suited me much better than previous days. I can also see why Bart has never ridden with the same person twice! But luckily I know him very well."

Mixed Category

Consolidating their overall lead, the Contego 28E team of Erik and Ariane Kleinhans won the Mixed category for the fifth day in a row in 6:19.16,6 (overall 29:49.46,4). They were followed by Udo Boelts and Milena Landtwing of Centurion Vaude in a time of 6:22.23,8 (overall 31:33.35,3), followed by second-time podium finishers Klaas Vanmoortel and Inne Gantois of BAiK-Peak Performance Brugge in 6:38.57,9 (overall 32:21.54,2).

Erik and Ariane Kleinhans of Contego 28E lead Udo Boelts and Milena Landtwing of Centurion Vaude by 1 hour, 43 minutes and 49 seconds. Klaas Vanmoortel and Inne Gantois of BAiK-Peak Performance Brugge have moved into third place overall.

Says Erik Kleinhans Of Contego 28E: "Today was a nightmare! It was so cold, I gave my jacket to Ariane because she was really hurting. It got worse when Ariane cut her tyre. It was a hard stage, but we won in our category and our lead is still safe. So we’re satisfied." Adds Ariane: "I really struggled in the cold today. My hands became numb and I couldn’t get food out of my pockets or anything. I was hurting a lot as well. But the cold was the worst part."

STAGE SIX

Start and finish: Oak Valley/Elgin (85km, 2200m of climbing)

Riders should not be fooled by the distance of the stage. It Is a hard day of climbing and Nuweberg is the first big challenge with the dangling carrot of stunning vistas at the top. On the penultimate day, nearing the climax of race week, the grand old lady Groenlandberg appears. Deep into this highly unique and remote landscape, riders will savour the solitude of the 30-kilometre of dual tracks through this pristine Cape Nature reserve as they tackle her in two parts. The first steady rise brings them to a rutted descent. From here the path contours along the side of this beautiful mountain, then it is the final ascent towards the saddle, followed by yet another tricky, washed-out descent. Again, riders get to enjoy the twisting single track on Paul Cluver before finishing off with fast and flat single-track on Oak Valley.

Best China a gogo?


Tour of Hangzhou: agreement signed between the UCI and the city

The UCI President Mr Pat McQuaid travelled to China this week to sign an agreement with the authorities of Hangzhou with a view to organising the first edition of the Tour of Hangzhou, a UCI WorldTour stage race which will be organised in the week following the Tour of Beijing.

At its meeting on February 10th, the UCI’s Professional Cycling Council (PCC) approved the launch of this project, which truly gets underway with the signing of the agreement.

For the city of Hangzhou, which is part of an important tourist area 200km south-west of Shanghai and which has more than 8 million inhabitants, the agreement was signed by the Deputy Mayor Chen Xiaoping, in the presence of the Secretary Huang and the Director of the Hangzhou Sports Bureau Zhao Rongfu.

The UCI President declared: “This agreement represents the first step in a new phase of our development strategy. After the Tour of Beijing, China offers us a second fantastic opportunity to promote the image of cycling in the world’s biggest country, and I am convinced that those in charge of this initiative are perfectly capable of meeting the other administrative deadlines necessary to obtain a place in the UCI WorldTour.”

Planned to take place over five days (Wednesday to Sunday), the race will be organised by Hangzhou city’s administrative services in collaboration with Global Cycling Promotion (GCP), the UCI’s development unit, according to the same methods as those set up for the 2011 Tour of Beijing.

As part of this, in the days before the signature of the agreement, GCP Director Alain Rumpf and Technical Consultant Alan Rushton carried out a first reconnaissance visit of the site to check the quality of the roads and the region’s different facilities.

“The lay of the terrain will allow us to design a very interesting course, ideal for a high-level race wishing to become part of the UCI WorldTour,” declared Mr Rumpf.

According to the regulations, the Tour of Hangzhou must now make a request for a UCI WorldTour licence, which will be examined by the Licences Commission.

Final Aussie roster for World Track Champs


Selectors have confirmed the final Cyclones team to contest the 2012 UCI Track World Championships being staged at Melbourne's Hisense Arena from 4 to 8 April.
At the end of the training camp in Adelaide the men's track endurance squad has been trimmed by one with Queensland's Mitchell Mulhern missing out on selection.
"All credit to Mitch for his fantastic contribution this season through the World Cup rounds and for his commitment during the training camp," said Cycling Australia National Performance Director Kevin Tabotta. "We certainly see him as a rider with a future ahead of him and a prospect for the program in coming years.
"But a decision has now been made and five riders are in contention for a start in the line up to ride the qualifying round of the team pursuit on Wednesday afternoon."
2011 world champions Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn and Rohan Dennis have been named along with teenager Alexander Edmondson who joined the trio to post the third fastest time in history to win gold at the London round of the World Cup last month. It's a double debut for the Edmondson clan with his elder sister Annette also racing in her first senior world championships.
Reigning omnium national champion Glenn O'Shea is the fifth rider in contention for a start in the men's team pursuit.
The men's and women's endurance riders, except for Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard who fly in next week, arrived in Melbourne today to join the sprinters who flew in yesterday from their Sydney training camp.

Australian team media access

In the lead up to the Championships media are welcome to attend the Cyclones' team training sessions to film overlay or take photographs but please note team members will not accommodate any media requests/interviews during training. Media are kindly requested to not approach athletes directly for interviews but to lodge requests with Gennie Sheer. Designated athletes, depending on their individual training plan, will be available for media each day at the track up until Tuesday 3 April. An update will be sent out a day prior to advise which cyclist/s will be available.
Access restrictions apply to non-rights holders who will be granted temporary accreditation to attend training sessions and media activities at Hisense Arena prior to the competition. Please contact Taryn Kirby in advance to arrange entry.
Also please note media (including journalists, photographers and camera crews) are not allowed in the Australian team pit area at any time. We thank you in advance for your cooperation.
The Australian Cyclones' track training schedule and media availability (subject to change and will be updated daily)
  • Saturday 31 March -1745-1930 (Matt Glaetzer, Scott Sunderland available after training)
  • Sunday 1 April - 1600-1745 (Jack Bobridge media call at 1500 prior to training)
  • Monday 2 April - 1415-1600
  • Tuesday 3 April - 1230-1415

2012 UCI Track World Championships - Cyclones Australian Team

Sprint Group

The eight sprint events are team sprint, sprint, keirin and time trial for both men and women.
  • Kaarle MCCULLOCH (Gymea Bay, NSW 20.01.1988) 2011 team sprint world champion
  • Anna MEARES (West Richmond, SA [formerly QLD] 21.09.1983) 2011 team sprint, sprint and keirin world champion

Endurance Group

The eleven endurance events are men's and women's team pursuit, individual pursuit, scratch race, points race and omnium plus the Madison for men.
  • Jack BOBRIDGE (Evanston Park, SA, 13.07.1989) 2011 individual and team pursuit world champion
  • Rohan DENNIS (Vale Park, SA 28.05.1990) 2011 team pursuit world champion
  • Alexander EDMONDSON (Stirling, SA 22.12.1993)   
  • Michael HEPBURN (Brookfield, QLD 17.08.1991) 2011 team pursuit world champion
  • Leigh HOWARD (Waurn Ponds, VIC, 18.10.1989) 2011 Madison world champion
  • Cameron MEYER (Helena Valley, WA 11.01.1988) 2011 Madison world champion
  • Glenn O'SHEA (Ridleyton, SA [formerly VIC] 14.06.1989)

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Cape Epic, stage 4


TENACITY THE NAME OF THE GAME - SOUTH AFRICA’S EVANS AND GEORGE MOVE TO SECOND PLACE OVERALL

The route took riders over 105km with 2 600m of climbing from Caledon back to Caledon. Two major climbs jabbed upwards on the day’s route profile. The first was the loose, long and steep Babylonstoren. Then it was the brutal, stony ascent to Charlie’s Heaven and riders should have been used to false peaks by now. Riders were watching the weather report closely, hoping for some cloud cover to take the edge off the scorching heat. But with views as far as Cape Point and Cape Agulhas, it was worth going through hell to get to the top. Danger lay ahead on the rough, steep ascent, with jagged rocks and deep ruts on the washed-out road. The run into the finish included open farm roads, fast paths along a railway line, some tight single-track past the tiny village of Middleton and a few hundred metres of trails through Caledon’s botanical gardens.




Men’s Category

The Men’s category of Stage 4 of this year’s Absa Cape Epic was again won by the indomitable Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser of Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized, in a time of 4:42.29,7 (overall 20:20.03,4). This is their fourth stage win in this year’s event. Hot on their heals were the tenacious South Africans Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life in a time of 4:43.13,2 (overall 20:45.04,6). In third place were Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking in a time of 4:45.10,6 (overall 20:45.31,6). The Bulls 2 team of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme again finished in fourth (4:47.49,4; overall 20:48.10,0) with Kevin van Hoovels and Sebastien Carabin of Versluys-Craft in fifth place (4:47.55,7; overall 20:54.26,8).

Stander and Sauser (Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized) remain in the lead in this category by 25 minutes and 1 second, with Evans and George of 360Life moving up five positions to second place overall. Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking are in third place overall, only 27 seconds behind Evans and George. Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme of the Bulls 2 team are in fourth place overall in a time of 20:48.10,0 with Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen of Topeak Ergon Racing in fifth (20:48.18,2). Urs Huber and Konny Looser of Stöckli Pro are now placed sixth overall (20:54.01,3) with previous winners of the event Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm of the Bulls 1 team in eighth place overall (20:56.50,8).

For the second day in a row, the Absa African Leader special jersey was won by Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life.

Siphosenkosi Madolo and Azukile Simayile of Exxaro Academy 9 are still the leaders in the Exxaro Development special jersey.

Burry Stander of TEAM 36ONE-Songo-Specialized comments: “Our pace wasn't that fast today, but not because we were chilling. It was unrelenting out there. It was sandy, rocky big climbs and the wind made it even harder. Nothing comes easy at the Absa Cape Epic. All the teams shared in the work and even with the wind, nobody tried to hide or miss their turn in front." Adds team mate Christoph Sauser: "The stage was shorter than yesterday, but I think the wattage was higher! I don’t like this wind, but I liked the climbs. We try our best every day and if we increase our lead, it’s a bonus. I feel comfortable though with three days to go. We’re getting closer to the routes I know pretty well, because it’s so close to Stellenbosch. That will also help, as it’s very difficult to plan if you don't know the route."

Says Kevin Evans of team 360Life: “I know we have to look at the bigger picture, but it would be great to win at least one stage. As they (Stander and Sauser) said yesterday, there are no gifts in this race and a podium finish overall is first prize for us. Today was a bit frustrating, especially on the big climb. We put in the effort to take the gap, but the other teams stayed with us. The wind was terrible in the last 30km – and as if the stage wasn’t hard enough, my father (Leon Evans, route designer) managed to also organise some wind. The rain forecast for tomorrow wouldn’t be the worst as it would at least settle the dust.” Adds team mate David George: “It was the same two teams doing most of the forcing. There was a strong cross wind, which made it trickier and that’s where road tactics come into play, which is my game. The three teams at the front were keen to get a time gap and we were all committed to it.”


Says Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking: “I felt strong in the beginning, but near the end I could feel I was losing power in my body.  I think today everyone had to go at his own limit. The wind was super strong. Basically, the guys in front are stronger than we are.” Hannes Genze adds: “It was very difficult and the tempo was high from the word go. Also, my legs didn’t feel good. Today was just not my day, but at the last long steep climb, I saw that the other riders were also taking some strain, and that motivated me again.”

Says Karl Platt of the Bulls 1 team: “Firstly, Dr Evil must think about making the Absa Cape Epic more enjoyable and decide whether it’s for mountain bikers or runners. Thanks for the beautiful scenery, but we couldn’t really enjoy it because we had to watch where we walked so that we didn’t fall. Today’s stage was super hard and the terrain was more for walking than cycling. That’s not good for motivation – all this walking. There’s a lot of nice mountain bike trails out here. We suffered, but we’re still motivated for tomorrow. We’ll try every day – if it’s good, it’s great, and if not, that happens also.” Teammate Stefan Sahm adds: “Today was not a good day for us – in fact, it was even worse than bad. I have nothing in my legs at the moment. I suffered like hell with a heart rate of 143, but nothing happened. I don’t know the reason for that and find it very frustrating. I’ll stay in the same routine, have a message and good sleep, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. We take it day by day.”

Ladies Category

Sally Bigham and Esther Süss of Wheels4Life won the Ladies category for the fifth day in a row in a time of 5:50.11,7 (overall 24:01.03,5), ahead of Biogen Britehouse team Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler in a time of 5:56.31,4 (overall 24:42.10,3). They were followed by Ivonne Kraft and Elisabeth Brandau of notebooksbilliger.de in 6:15.20,1 (overall 25:58.04,0).

Bigham and Süss lead the Biogen Britehouse team Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler by 41 minutes and 7 seconds. MTN Qhubeka’s Karien van Jaarsveld and Jane Nuessli are now in third place overall.

Says Esther Süss of Wheels4Life: “The start was so fast today, that it killed me. I eventually recovered and could find a good rhythm. In the flat I didn’t have enough power and Sally had to wait for me. But every day I sit on the bike and give my best.” Adds Sally Bigham: “Today’s course was really nice. There were more single-track, some really nice views and trails. In fact, today was my favourite stage. The wind made the end really difficult, but fortunately I did a lot my training in the wind, which of course helped a lot.”

Telkom Business Master’s Category

For the third consecutive day, the Telkom Business Masters Category was won by Robert Sim and Nico Pfitzenmaier of the Robert Daniel Momsen team in 5:22.16,7 (overall time 22:20.19,2), followed by the World Bicycle Relief team of Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers in 5:31.24,5 (overall time 23:14.33,7). In third place was the Jag Craft team of Adrian Enthoven and Delaney Impey in 5:44.31,9 (overall 23:06.18,1).

Sim and Pfitzenmaier lead the Jag Craft team of Adrian Enthoven and Delaney Impey by 45 minutes and 59 seconds. World Bicycle Relief team Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers are in third place overall.

Says Nico Pfitzenmaier of Robert Daniel Momsen: “Today was a tough stage. The pace was high at the start and the lactic acid built up in our legs in the first 10 km. The landscape was beautiful. Later this morning, the wind was howling and you had to fight against it. That was a bit hectic. Rob also sliced his tyre and we needed to replace his tube, but we managed to consolidate our lead, which is good.” Adds Rob Sim: “A stick speared my tyre and the hole was too big just to plug. I was worried that we used most of our equipment, but these things happen. Fortunately we came home safely.’

Says Bart Brentjens of World Bicycle Relief: “It’s very different riding in the Masters category. The elite teams are much stronger. If you compare it, we’re slow. I actually think I prefer riding in the Men’s. I always enjoy the Absa Cape Epic. It’s very well organized – that’s one of the reasons I come back every year. Also, South Africa is a lovely country, the terrain is nice, and the best riders in the world compete. But you have to compete as a team.” Adds Jan Weevers: “I’ve participated in many races in Europe – some of the toughest one’s we have – but nothing compares to this. It’s a little bit heavy for me.”

Mixed Category

The Contego 28E team of Erik and Ariane Kleinhans won the Mixed category for the fourth day in a row in 5:40.24,0 (overall 23:30.29,8), followed by first-time podium finishers Klaas Vanmoortel and Inne Gantois of BAiK-Peak Performance Brugge in 6:02.23,3 (overall 25:42.56,3). Russell de Jager and Andrea Huser of Big Tree / Velocity Sports Lab finished in third place in 6:08.09,2 (overall 26:34.11,5) with Pieter Venter and Leana de Jager of Attix5 in fourth place in 6:18.31,3 (overall 25:38.31,6).

Erik and Ariane Kleinhans of Contego 28E lead Udo Boelts and Milena Landtwing of Centurion Vaude by 1 hour, 40 minutes and 42 seconds. Pieter Venter and Leana de Jager of Attix5 remain in third place overall.

Says Erik Kleinhans Of Contego 28E: "It was very hard out there today. Not only because of our tired legs from yesterday, but the first half of the route was loose sand and rocky climbs and the second half we battled with the wind. It’s not always easy to ride the Mixed, but Ariane is just so strong. I leave her on the climbs because she’s more than capable and doesn't really need my help. I know when I have to help and when not." Adds his wife and team mate, Ariane: "I'm so happy with the result. Winning our fourth stage is amazing. It’s also great to have a big lead, because anything can still happen and it’s still a long way to Lourensford Wine Estate."

Says Klaas Vanmoortel of their first podium finish: "We came back this year to see if we can at least finish on the podium in one stage. After finishing fourth a few times and yesterday's stomach problems Inne had, we thought it was all over for that dream. But we had such a good day today and Inne was so strong. I think it was her best day on a bike ever." Adds Inne Gantois: "To finally get on the podium is very exciting. It’s all we wanted from this year's Absa Cape Epic."

STAGE FIVE

Caledon to Oak Valley/Elgin (119km, 2350m of climbing)

Dr. Evil has one aim on Stage five – get riders to that farmed Oak Valley single-track as soon as possible. So it’s a fast, flowing start, before heading to the fynbos-lined mountain tracks. As they edge closer to Elgin/Grabouw, riders’ morale will be buoyed by the striking views from the Highlands Plateau onto the Botrivier Lagoon and Kleinmond Beach. A steady 10-kilomtre climb takes them through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, famous for its biodiversity and rare fynbos. Then, it’s a combination of new and old flowing single-track through Lebanon, Thandi and Oak Valley on some unforgettable loops in apple country. But be warned, the last few steep single-track climbs throw some devastating combination punches to the legs in the final push towards the lush fields of the race village in Oak Valley.

Cape Epic, stage 3



Some may have called stage two “a fun day out”, but today was payback time. Stage three took riders from Robertson to Caledon – 147km with 2 900m of climbing. Dr. Evil cited four major climbs on the longest stage in Absa Cape Epic history, with the action starting around the 40-kilometre mark. The first was a six-kilometre dual track, where riders fought for traction over large rolling rocks. Then there was the four-kilometre Mast climb, with a view over Villiersdorp. The next lump in the profile was a smooth and comparatively easy rise to the Toll House, the highest point of the day, with a fast five-kilometre descent dropping 500 metres into the valley. At the 110-kilometre mark, there was the UFO climb to scale. A sharp rise was followed by a tricky descent, undoing all the hard work. Then starting again, from the bottom, was a steep rocky trail with several false peaks where riders switched to their granny gears. Riders could clock up some mileage on the fast downhill district roads before the last 10 kilometres slowed them down again, traversing farmlands. Riders were then welcomed to their new race village – Caledon.

Men’s Category

The Men’s category of Stage 3 of this year’s Absa Cape Epic was won in a sprint finish by Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized, Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser, in a time of 5:31.04,0 (overall 15:37.33,7). They were closely followed by South Africans Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life in a time of 5:31.07,1 (overall 16:01.51,4). In third place were Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking in a time of 5:39.46,6 (overall 16:00.21,0). The Bulls 2 team of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme finished fourth (5:39.48,1; overall 16:00.20,6) with Kevin van Hoovels and Sebastien Carabin of Versluys-Craft in fifth place (5:39.49,5; overall 16:06.31,1).

Stander and Sauser still lead this category by 18 minutes and 35 seconds. Urs Huber and Konny Looser of Stöckli Pro are placed second overall (15:56.08,9) with Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen of Topeak Ergon Racing third overall (15:56.31,5). Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm of the Bulls 1 team are in fourth place overall (15:59.27,7), with Kevin Evans and David George moving up two positions to seventh place overall (16:01.51,4).

The Absa African Leader jersey was won by Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life, with the MTN Qhubeka team of Adrien Nyontshuti and Jacques Janse van Rensburg moving into second position in this category (16:13.39,3).

Siphosenkosi Madolo and Azukile Simayile of Exxaro Academy 9 are the leaders in the Exxaro Development jersey category.

Says Christoph Sauser of Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized: "Every stage is great to win, whether it’s the longest stage or not. But we not only won the stage today, we took another big step in our overall lead. Today was a beautiful stage. On top of the mountain the scenery was really special. I almost wanted to stop, but a victory means more than great scenery. We expected some cat-and-mouse games for the finish so I just decided to attack and see what happens. I expected some real sprinting action, but was disappointed." Adds team mate Burry Stander: "I was relieved when Christoph went on the attack for the finish, because when it comes to sprinting, he's not really that good at it. So I had only to beat one of the two 360Life riders for the stage win. I know there's some people who will wonder why we didn't give the stage win away, but the Cape Epic is not the place to give gifts. We deserved the win today. We love winning stages and we’re always at the start line with victory in mind. I was really nervous about this stage at the start this morning because I'm focusing on the Olympic Games and there it’s cross-country racing that is less than two hours. I haven't been training for long races like this, but I’m more than happy with the way it’s going at the moment."

Says David George of 360Life: “Of course it’s good to be back on the podium. We were so close to Burry (Stander) and Susi (Christoph Sauser) and still have a long way to go. We’ll do our utmost to make headway back onto the podium and will keep giving our best every day. Today’s stage was tough, but Kev and I were up to the pace. Hopefully we’ll improve as the days go by. We’re still motivated to keep on getting closer to where we want to be.  We had some bad luck in the first stage, but as you know, this race is such a bastard, anything can happen.” Adds Kevin Evans: “Yes, Dr Evil (his father) lived up to his name. There will be a lot of swearing back markers out there today. We had to push during this stage so that we didn’t stay stuck in the same position. I had nothing left at the end and couldn’t sprint to the finish with Burry and Susi. You have to fight for everything in this race. Our goal is to ride ourselves back onto the podium at Lourensford Wine Estate. It’s going to be hard and I don’t know how many days you can put in this kind of effort. Today was a good day for us. We broke away at the 90km mark as it’s a bit frustrating when you ride in a big group and constantly need to fight for position.”

Absa African Leaders for the last two days, MTN Qhubeka, comment on finishing in second place in this category today. Says Jacques Janse van Rensburg: “My wheel kept going flat – I sealed it, then it went flat again. At around the 90km mark, we were in a good position in the second group. The uphills took their toll on me and we decided to ride at our own tempo. At the end, I ran out of energy and we caught up with the third group with Max Knox. It was really nice to be in the African leader jersey for two days. Adrian and I work well as a team – he’s very strong and it’s awesome. Hopefully we recover well and will still get good results.” Adds Adrian Niyontshuti: “It’s a hard race with the best riders in the world. We’ll probably finish in the top 10 only next year.”

Says Siphosenkosi Madolo of Exxaro 9 and winner of the Exxaro Development Jersey: "I had a very hard fall today, but am still very happy to be here at the Cape Epic. The Exxaro Jersey means a lot to us, and it’s an honour to wear it. We have a big lead so today we were just trying to ride conservatively. Tomorrow we’ll be stronger again." Adds his team mate Azukile Simayile: "It wasn't a good day for me. I struggled. It was long and hot. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow."

Ladies Category

Sally Bigham and Esther Süss of Wheels4Life won the Ladies category for the fourth day in a row in a time of 6:26.53,0 (overall 18:10.51,8), ahead of Biogen Britehouse team Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler in a time of 6:35.40,2 (overall 18:45.38,9). They were followed by Karien van Jaarsveld and Jane Nüssli of MTN Qhubeka Ladies in 6:50.42,6 (overall 19:19.14,3).

Bigham and Süss lead the Biogen Britehouse team Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler by 34 minutes and 47 seconds. MTN Qhubeka are now in third place overall.

Says Esther Süss of Wheels4Life: “I’m very happy we could finish in first place. I had a really hard day today. It was a long race, starting off with a big group on what seemed like a road race. After that there were some hard uphills and downhills. We had to do a lot today and it was too long a stage for me. So far we’ve had a lot of open track, so I’m hoping for more single-track the rest of the race. Today was beautiful though – the views of the mountains were magnificent.” Adds her team mate Sally Bigham: “We can’t wish for better result. I enjoyed today’s stage, but didn’t like the first 60 to 80 km. It was too much like a road race and a big peloton of riders together. Once we started to climb, we could start building our lead. There were some really challenging climbs, which I like – especially the long ones. I also didn’t like the last 5km. It was a tough stage, but the kind of stage I enjoy. We have a substantial lead and will just carry on doing what we’re doing. Hopefully we’ll continue to have good luck and enjoy ourselves.”

Telkom Business Master’s Category

The Telkom Business Masters Category was again won by Robert Sim and Nico Pfitzenmaier of the Robert Daniel Momsen team in 6:01.16,1 (overall time 16:58.02,5), followed by the World Bicycle Relief team of Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers in 6:08.42,9 (overall time 17:43.09,2). In third place were the Jag Craft team of Adrian Enthoven and Delaney Impey in 6:16.15,0 (overall 17:21.46,2).

Sim and Pfitzenmaier lead the Jag Craft team of Adrian Enthoven and Delaney Impey by 23 minutes and 43 seconds. World Bicycle Relief team Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers are in third place overall.

Says Nico Pfitzenmaier of Robert Daniel Momsen: “Today was a long stage and it was important to consolidate our lead a little bit. We had a very good ride and worked well together. We extended our lead and road conservatively. Anything can happen in the Absa Cape Epic and it’s still a way to go to Lourensford Wine Estate, so we can perhaps take it easier, but still can’t say we won. This is the first time I’m riding in the Masters, and to be quite honest, I find it more relaxing. In the Mixed category, there is much more strain on your body and your knees. Your body is always a bit skew and you have to put in more effort on the hills to support your partner. We’ll see what happens next year.” Adds Rob Sim: “Today was quite hard. We stayed with around 20 teams and at one point, one of the top riders – I think it was Konny Looser – fell and I rode straight into him. I then had to catch up again and lost a bit of puff there. I’m feeling much better than the first day. Nico is a great partner – he’s very strong and also excellent technically. We have a very good partnership going.”

Adrian Enthoven of Jag Craft says it was a very tough stage. “It was a bit deceptive. The first 90km went quickly but the last 50km were really hard. It was good though and we didn’t have any major issues. The other guys were just stronger than us today. It will be very hard to challenge for first place and we’ll just try to hang onto our 2nd place. As always, I’m loving the Absa Cape Epic."

Mixed Category

The Contego 28E team of Erik and Ariane Kleinhans won the Mixed category for the third day in a row in 6:12.01,3 (overall 17:50.05,8), followed by Udo Boelts and Milena Landtwing of Centurion Vaude in 6:31.28,8 (overall 18:19.53,1). Russell de Jager and Andrea Huser of Big Tree / Velocity Sports Lab finished in third place in 6:40.34,9 (overall 20:26.02,3) with Pieter Venter and Leana de Jager of Attix5 in fourth place in 6:49.25,1 (overall 19:20.00,3).

Erik and Ariane Kleinhans of Contego 28E lead Udo Boelts and Milena Landtwing of Centurion Vaude by 29 minutes and 47 seconds. Pieter Venter and Leana de Jager of Attix5 remain in third place overall.

Says Erik Kleinhans: “A woman rode into my bike today and my tyre went skew. I was a bit nervous when it happened and hoped it wasn’t serious. We were riding in a big bunch and I had to pass the whole field to catch up with Ariane. I’m feeling very strong and am getting stronger every day. Today I felt better than the first three days and it makes a huge difference. This stage was tough and I could help Ariane. We rode with a really nice bunch of people – thanks to Rene Haselbacher, Mannie Heymans and Reynard Tissink.” Adds Ariane Kleinhans: “It was a long day in the office today and I’m tired. I should get paid overtime. I felt good and paced myself quite nicely – the last bit was tough and I needed to concentrate a lot. Also, I think my blood sugar levels were running on empty.”

STAGE FOUR

Start and finish: Caledon

Two major climbs jab upwards on the day’s route profile. The first is the loose, long and steep Babylonstoren. Then it’s the brutal, stony ascent to Charlie’s Heaven and riders should be used to false peaks by now. Riders will be watching the weather report closely, hoping for some cloud cover to take the edge off the scorching heat. But with views as far as Cape Point and Cape Agulhas, it’ll be worth going through hell to get to the top. Danger lies ahead on the rough, steep ascent, with jagged rocks and deep ruts on this washed-out road. The run into the finish includes open farm roads, fast paths along a railway line, some tight singletrack past the tiny village of Middleton and a few hundred metres of trails through Caledon’s botanical gardens.