Stage 7: Hermanus to Boschendal144km, 2,920m of climbing
The penultimate stage of the Absa Cape Epic was definitely the toughest. The 144km course featured long, gruelling climbs and fast, technical descents, while temperatures reached 32°C later in the stage. Team Specialized riders Christoph Sauser and Silvio Bundi showed why they’re out in front, finishing the stage 13 minutes clear and increasing their overall lead to 32 minutes.
With that margin and only one, relatively short, stage to go, it looks like it’s in the bag for Specialized. But Sauser isn’t taking anything for granted: “If you get too comfortable with your success that is when unexpected things happen, you must enter each stage with a racing mentality in order to perform your best.”
Sauser and Bundi were helped both by the similarity of the terrain to that of their home patch in the Swiss Alps and also by their familiarity with the Stellenbosch area itself – they’ve been visiting to train there for many years, and know parts of Stage 7 very well. Also familiar with the area are Arno Viljoen and Marc Bassingthwaite of team GT Mr Price came in second, winning their first podium position of the event.
Carsten Bresser and Karl Platt of team Rocky Mountain Business Objects worked hard for third in the stage, but they’re still two minutes down overall on Team Stevens.
Stage 7 results
- Team Specialized: Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Silvio Bundi (SUI) – 05:35:24
- GT Mr Price: Marc Bassingthwaighte (NAM) and Arno Viljoen (NAM) – 05:49:02
- Rocky Mountain Business Object: Karl Platt (GER) and Carsten Bresser (GER) – 05:49:06
- Absa Business Banking Services: Linus van Onselen (RSA) and Geddan Ruddock (RSA) – 06:26:50
- dennis mccann: Ergee du Toit (RSA) and Corrie Muller (RSA) – 06:36:48
- Marsilio Projects: Tony Conlon (RSA) and Lieb Loots (RSA) – 06:46:31
- radys.com: Dolores Maechler (SUI) and Severin Rupp (SUI) – 06:26:58
- GHOST International: Jorg Scheiderbauer (GER) and Anna
- Baylis-Scheiderbauer (AUS) – 06:38:25
adidas / WE Cycles / Bianchi: Fourie Kotze (RSA) and Anke Erlank (RSA) – 06:40:25
- Homebrew Lite – Anna Sutton (AUS) and Joanne Marie King (AUS) – 7:41:59
- adidas-Fiat-Rotwild: Sabine Grona (GER) and Kerstin Brachtendorf (GER) – 07:46:57
- Mountainbike Revue: Elisabeth Hager (AUT) and Sandra Lettner (AUT) – 07:59:40
Overall after penultimate stage
- Sauser/ Bundi – 31:59:03
- Sickmueller/ Heule – 32:25:57
- Platt/ Bresser – 32:28:05
- Grona/ Brachtendorf – 42:21:40
- Hager/ Lettner – 43:29:40
- Kreisle/ Begy – 48:17:56
- van Onselen/ Ruddock – 35:28:43
- Du Toit/ Muller – 36:30:30
- Conlon/ Loots – 37:25:18
- Baylis-Scheiderbauer/ Scheiderbauer – 36:00:46
- Meachler/ Rupp – 36:44:55
- Erlank/ Kotze – 36:45:01
Stage 8: Boschendal to Spier67km, 1,210m of climbing
The final stage of the Absa Cape Epic took place under clear blue skies. 1,046 riders set off from the Waterfront in Knysna, and 824 of them made it al the way to Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch after 921km and 16,605m of climbing.
Stage 8 included jeep track, singletrack, technical climbs and plenty of quick descents including the 1997 UCI World Cup DH course in Stellenbosch. Although fairly short, the stage had some tricky sections and several teams suffered from last-minute disasters. Most notably, leading Mixed team Ghost International (Anna and Jorg Scheiderbauer) crashed on the first downhill of the day – Anna broke her collarbone, Jorg injured his knee and shoulder and they were out of the race. That left Dolores Maechler and Severin Rupp (radys.com) in the lead.
“It is actually not a nice way to win a race,” Severin said. “I really feel sorry for Anna and Jörg, because they have dominated our category and had a 45 minutes advantage when we started this morning. I hope they will get better soon. But of course we are proud to be awarded with the green adidas Cape Epic leader jerseys tonight after eight tough days of racing.”
In the men’s category, Karl Platt of Team Rocky Mountain Business Objects found himself with a permanently locked-out fork for nearly all of the final stage. His team mate Carsten Bresser injured his shoulder, too, and despite close rivals Team Stevens suffering the odd nagivational mishap they couldn’t close the gap and came in third overall.
The winners were Christop Sauser and Silvio Bundi (Specialized), completing the course in 34 hours, 41 minutes and 41 seconds having won seven out of eight stages and building a lead of 29.08 minutes.
“We really enjoyed today’s stage,” said Christoph. “It was like riding in our backyard as we knew every inch of the terrain. Now I am a little sad that Epic is over. Of course it is nice to sleep in a decent bed again and to enjoy the comfort of our guest house. But I will miss the great vibes and the people. At least I did it with Silvio who is one of my best friends and we can cherish our memories together. Next year we will be back, for sure.”
In the Masters category, South African team Absa Business Banking Services (Geddan Ruddock and Linus von Onselen) dominated the field. They finished ninth overall and nearly an hour and a half ahead of their nearest category rivals.
Kerstin Brachtendorf and Sabine Grona of Team adidas Fiat Rotwild completed their first Cape Epic in 46 hours, 25 min and 52 seconds, 1 hour and 25 minutes ahead of the second placed Womens team Mountainbike Revue with Lisi Hager and Sandra Lettner, performances that exceeded the expectations of all four riders.
This entire week has been incredible in every sense of the word,” Lisi raved. “The Cape Epic truly is the best race in the world and the best all around mountain bike race experience. The organisation is perfect, the vibes are outstanding. The headline of my article will be ‘Heaven and Hell’, because in the past week we have been through all the highs and lows. We crashed, had technical defects, were exhausted but also had a stage win and met many great people. We will do our bit that next year there will be more Austrians at the start and we will advise them to stay in the camp, because only then you get the full Epic experience.”
- Team Specialized: Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Silvio Bundi (SUI) – 34:41:41
- Stevens Racing: Johannes Sickmüller (GER) and Christian Heule (SUI) – 35:10:49
- Rocky Mountain Business Objects: Karl Platt (GER) and Carsten Bresser (GER) – 35:18:21
- adidas Raleigh Kevin Evans (RSA) and Mannie Heymans (NAM) – 35:36:25
- adidas-Fiat-Rotwild Andi Strobel (GER) and Silvio Wieltschnig (AUT) – 35:57:25
- adidas-Fiat-Rotwild: Sabine Grona (GER) and Kerstin Brachtendorf (GER) – 46:25:52
- Mountainbike Revue: Elisabeth Hager (AUT) and Sandra Lettner (AUT) – 47:51:21
- Homebrew Lite: Anna Sutton (AUS) and Joanne Marie King (AUS) – 52:50:52
- I&J Hermanus Cycles: Estelle Labuschagne (RSA) and Nadia Neil (RSA) – 54:53:23
- Swisslis: Christine Wyss (SUI) and Sandra Koch (SUI) – 55:25:09
- Absa Business Banking Services: Linus van Onselen (RSA) and Geddan Ruddock (RSA) – 38:42:11
- dennis mccann: Ergee du Toit (RSA) and Corrie Muller (RSA) – 40:05:44
- Marsilio Projects: Tony Conlon (RSA) and Lieb Loots (RSA) – 40:49:47
- Huguenote Cycles: Dennis du Toit (HT/RSA) and Jacques Malan – 41:17:17
- Centra Harvest: Christian Stabell Eriksen (NOR) and Ole Kristian Silseth (NOR) – 41:33:50
- radys.com: Dolores Maechler (SUI) and Severin Rupp (SUI) – 40:02:29
- adidas / WE Cycles / Bianchi – Fourie Kotze (RSA) and Anke Erlank (RSA) – 40:10:36
- Scott: Patrick Mosterd (RSA) and Yolande de Villiers (RSA) – 42:03:18
- X-Fusion: Louise Kobin (USA) and Eric Warkentin (USA) – 44:43:36
- PEAK Vienna: Andreas Muehlbacher (AUT) and Anita Waiss (AUT) – 44:46:29