It was a real classic Absa Cape Epic day out, the longest stage in years. With fast open roads, marked by 3 obstacles along the way, riders were advised to save their strength and cooperate with other teams to form larger groups, to take turns at the front to lighten the load.
The first climb of the day was a shock to the system, not only from the gradient but also the track’s surface. In parts, the climb was rideable, barely, and only the fittest and best bike handlers were able to make it up without dabbing a foot. As with everything, what goes up must come down, and those with full suspension bikes were grateful for their weapon of choice. More open roads helped get some kilometres under the belt before the radio mast came into view.
Down the other side of this deceptive climb was a fast chute into farmlands and waiting for riders was a set of rolling hills that deadened the legs of even the most hardened campaigner. At the 100km mark, riders reached the foot of the exquisite Groenlandberg, the grand old legend who invited the Absa Cape Epic back in 2011 thanks to Cape Nature Conservation.
The 15% gradient on the concrete path should have been paced conservatively, with the remainder of the climb taking most riders well over an hour to complete. The north-facing slope made for a challenging ascent but the rocky downhill sections led to the famed Oak Valley singletrack to make it all worth it.
Sauser and Stander dominate
Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser and his South African team mate Burry Stander (36ONE Songo Specialized) dominate this year’s Absa Cape Epic by securing their 5th stage win in stage 5 of this year’s Absa Cape Epic in 5:19.30,7.
They were followed by the Flückiger brothers, Lukas and Mathias, of Trek World Racing in 5:19.41,2 with the Multivan Merida team, Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss, in third place (5;19.51,1). Sauser and Stander now lead overall by 8 minutes and 8 seconds with an overall time of 21:03.45,6. In second position overall are Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss of Multivan Merida Biking in 21:11,54,4, followed by the Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm in 21:19.04,4. In fourth place overall are the Versluys-Evenza team of Nicolas Vermeulen and Kevin van Hoovels (21:39.22,6).
They have moved up from fifth place overall yesterday. Andreas Kugler and Markus Kaufmann of the Multivan Merida Biking 2 team are now in fifth position overall (21:54.36,0).