The Men’s category of stage three 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).
Christoph Sauser says: “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.”
Burry Stander adds: “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.”
Absa African Leaders for the last two days, MTN Qhubeka, comment on finishing in second place. 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.”
Sally Bigham and Esther Süss continue winning streak with fourth straight win
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.”
Sally Bigham added: “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.”
Photos by Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS
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