ABSA CAPE EPIC: THE FIRST STAGE OF RACING
Words: Rachel Fenton
Part 2: here.
So after our slow and steady ride in the Prologue, our team (Team Privateer) was in the holding pen H for the start of Stage 1, starting 30 minutes later than the top teams. From her experience last year Collyn suggested we go to the front of the pen and try and move through the peloton to the front of the G riders, who we would start at the same time as, on the road section.
Despite our gridding at the back we were only 10minutes down on a lot of the women’s teams. There is a heck of a drop off in ability for the women with the top 5 in the front – pen A, very few in B-F, and then everyone from those that placed 8th and down in pens G and H. So if we moved as far forward as we could early on we figured it would put us in good stead.
This is generally a big challenge in women’s racing from XC, cyclocross to DH and of course marathon. How do people make the transition from the back through no-mans-land to join the fast girls? To some extent the small number of female riders at the moment makes this step-up virtually impossible without years of grit and determination and there are many women who try racing but end up feeling demoralised and deciding it’s not for them. The guys by contrast can always compare themselves to someone and gradually see their improvement race-by-race and year-by-year.
The situation is improving however, here at the Cape Epic for example, there were 27 women’s teams that started compared to, I think, 13 from last year. I hope that we can inspire more women to race – it makes it better for all of us with closer, less lonely racing!
Collyn and her roadie skills meant that we managed to get past all of H and most of the G pen riders in the morning. We sat in the front group for the first climb until the pace got a bit much and we settled into our own rhythm, teaming up with another women’s team to “through and off” on a windy road section. The stage was brutal, it was hot (you should see my random tan lines from the holes on the back of my gloves and my race wristbands!), and there must have been 30 kilometres of uphill deep sand that was impossible to ride and we had to walk. Both the Topeak Ergon men’s and women’s teams are now out of the race due to crashes and medical issues (there is amazing footage of Robert Mennen hitting a small springbok). So it was mega hard for everyone.
There is an amazing achievement in completing a stage like this, and riding in a team makes this even more special. Collyn and I are working well together and in the first stage we made up a lot of time by descending well and being able to ride in the sand (it requires the same skills as mud it seems). Yes we ran a little low on fuel at the end of the day, but we can learn from that and do better as we go on. We went from 23rd to 12th in one day! Lets hope we can keep on moving up. Stage 2 is 145 km long (we’ll be racing as you read this so think of us!) and is no doubt going to be another tough one.
Results from Stage 1:
1. Jose Hermida and Rudi van Houts – Multivan Merida
2. Karl Platt and Urs Huber – Bulls
3. Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme – Bulls 2
1. Esther Suss and Jane Nuessli – BMC Wheeler
2. Yolande Speedy and Catherine Williamson – Energas
3. Hanlie Booyens and Ischen Stopforth – Pragma Volcan Ladies
1. Erik Kleinhans and Ariance Kleinhans – RE:CM
2. Peta Mullens and Jarrod Moroni – Target TREK-Moronis Bikes
3. Johan Labuschagne and Yoland de Villiers – Exxaro Cycle Lab 1
Follow me on twitter @Fentinator or read my blog www.rachelfenton.blogspot.com
Thanks to Canyon Bikes UK for supplying Rachel’s test bike.