Action from stage one of the Absa Cape Epic, which saw Sauser and Stander push further into the lead while the women’s race is being dominated by Brit Sally Bigham and partner Esther Süss.
Sauser and Stander extend lead after winning prologue with a win on stage one
The Men’s Category for stage one was won for the second consecutive day by the South African/Swiss team of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser (Team 36ONE-Songo- Specialized) in a time of 4:33.22,6 (overall time 5:45.14,7).
They were followed by Urs Huber and Konny Looser of the Stöckli Pro team in 4:38.31,2 (overall time 5:54.40,7) with the Bulls 2 team of Tim Böhme and Thomas Dietsch in third place in 4:38.32,8 (overall time 5:55.07,4). In fourth place was the Bulls 1 team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (4:40.04,8; overall time 5:58.02,3), having moved from tenth place yesterday to fifth place overall today, with Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking in fifth place (4:40.05,7; overall time 5:59.20,6).
South African hopefuls Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life finished in fifteenth place today after major problems in a time of 4:57.23,1 (overall 6:09.28,4). They are now placed tenth overall. Last year’s winners Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser lead by 9 minutes and 26 seconds.
Burry Stander commented at the stage finish: “We rode well today and were on our own on the last 45km, which we rode at our won pace. Some of the guys had problems with the heat or with their tyres. We didn’t have any problems, so it was a nice steady race for us – touch wood. I felt much better today than yesterday and enjoyed the stage.
“And of course it’s nice to go from 134 seconds in the lead to just under ten minutes. It really helps to have a strong second team and they were close to us for most of the day. It makes a big difference – I’m sure after today team 360Life will agree, as they apparently had many problems.” Sauser adds: “Winning by this margin is a big advantage for us. It feels good to win the stage, but having the time gap is more important. We have a good lead now, but we know that anything can still happen. We also have a second team which is great to have.”
Tim Böhme of the Bulls 2 team, who finished in third place, added: “The route was tough and a bit of a lottery. Many riders had flats. We had luck on our side as it was really tough, long and super fast. You really had to concentrate.” Adds his teammate, Thomas Dietsch: “It really felt good to finish on the podium today, especially in the Absa Cape Epic. I started getting cramps around 20km before the finish and just tried to survive. We hope to recover well so that we’re ready for tomorrow. We don’t have a game plan – the 36ONE-Songo- Specialized team is really strong. I suppose the plan is just to follow them.”
Sally Bigham and Esther Süss of Wheels4Life made it two in a row
Sally Bigham and Esther Süss of Wheels4Life won the Ladies category for the second day in a row in a time of 5:20.04,3 (overall time 6:49.31,6), ahead of Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler of team Biogen Britehouse in a time of 5:27.31,5 (overall 6:59.18,2). Ivonne Kraft and Elisabeth Brandau of botebooksbilliger.de finished in third place in 5:45.19,5 (7:21.20,6). Bigham and Süss lead by 9 minutes and 47 seconds.
Sally Bigham said: “It was a long stage with lots of steep climbing. I liked it and didn’t suffer too much. We also didn’t have too many problems which is great. My body still feels strong, so our plan for tomorrow is the same.” Adds teammate Esther Süss: “It was very hot today and I drank a lot. The course was steep and loose, then flat and the downhill was difficult – you had to concentrate not to fall or get flats. Hopefully we recover well for tomorrow’s stage.”
Theresa Ralph of Biogen Britehouse reckons “today was a nice awakening from the first stage. It was very different today and luckily what I train for. There was quite a lot of portage and some monster climbs in the beginning. At around the 100km mark, they threw in a character building zoop. The long stretch at the end was fun though. We’re stoked to finish in second place again. We’re not pro’s – we both work and I have kids – so we’re very chaffed with our performance so far.”
Her team mate Nina Gässler adds: “It was a very good ride, but it became long. We expected it to be around 4 hours. I have a fantastic riding partner though, so even the hardest day becomes a pleasure. We’ll just hang in there for tomorrow. I’m Esther and Sally’s biggest fan – they’re my idols – so as long as we stay with them, I’m very happy.”
Photos by Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS