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Cape Epic: stage four report

Burry Stander and his team-mate confirm their lead in the race today

It is a first for the Absa Cape Epic: two time trials in the 2011 race, the first was a 32km route through the foothills of Brandwacht.

As in 2010, riders traversed the western side of Worcester in this semi-desert environment. Added to last year’s route was an extra 5km loop along dual tracks past the local golf course. The route data showed 860m of climbing which may not seem like a lot, but over such a short distance, it still required a hard effort.

As usual, the top teams left at 1 minute intervals, racing only against the clock, some looking for a stage win and others to consolidate. Riders needed to hold back on this stage and save themselves for the next half of the Cape Epic saga.

Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander extend leads

Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander maintain their overall lead with a time of 15:44.14,9. In second position overall are Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss of Multivan Merida Biking in 15:52.03,3, followed by the Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm in 15:55.53,8.

In fourth place overall are the Stöckli Pro team of Urs Huber and Konny Looser who finished in fifth place today (16:11.01,0), with Versluys-Evenza’s Nicolas Vermeulen and Kevin van Hoovels in fifth place overall (16:13.29,8). They finished in 8th place today.

Says Burry Stander of 36ONE Songo Specialized: “This is the first day in this year’s Absa Cape Epic that I really felt good and had good legs. I didn’t need to rely on Christoph and could finally push him as he has done with me the last couple of days, putting me through the paces. It’s also nice that we a have a bit more time today to recover ahead of the last two long stages. We’ve extended our lead but it’s hard to say what’ll happen in the next three days.

“We’re doing what we need to every day and trying to ride conservatively as well as increase our lead. I just hope we have Lady Luck on our side.” Christoph Sauser adds: “I’ve learnt that it’s never good for me to think I’m going to have a nice racing day. We caught up with Genze and Käss in the big downhill, rode together for a bit and in the next uphill pulled away. It’s always a cool feeling catching the guys in front. If it’s just down to pedalling, we stand a good chance to stay in front, but this race is not like an office job and an 8 minute lead is not a lot.”

Lechner and Schneitter wins Ladies for the fourth time

Eva Lechner and Nathalie Schneitter (team Colnago Arreghini Südtirol) won the Ladies Category for the fourth time, finishing in 1:27.16,3 (overall 22:10.54,7), ahead of Sally Bigham and Karien Van Jaarsveld (team USN) in a time of 1:37.04,1 (overall 21:02.18,7). In third place were Naomi Hansen and Jodie Willett of adidas in 1:37.54,8 (overall 21:59.55,5) with Hanlie Booyens and Ischen Stopforth of team Absa aBreast in fourth (1:40.41,3; overall 21:28.02,4). Bigham and Van Jaarsveld lead this category by 25 minutes and 43 seconds.

Says Nathalie Schneitter of Switzerland (team Colnago Arreghini Südtirol): “The race was still quite hard today and in the nice single-track we gave it our all. We had excellent team work today and were both feeling strong.” Eva Lechner adds: “We’re really happy with the race. Nathalie worked hard in the middle section of the race and I at the beginning and end. We finished in good time and look forward to the last three days of the race.”

Karien van Jaarsveld (USN) comments that they had a fun race. “Today was my kind of riding. It was pretty steep, but conditions were nice. We still have a long way to go – tomorrow’s a monster of a day – so we’ll just ride safely and conservatively to get to the finish.” Bigham adds: “We really had good fun today. It was perfect to have a short course in the middle of the race to recover a bit. We’ll enjoy some recovery time and get ready for tomorrow.”

Tracy Moseley takes on the Epic

Current Downhill Mountain Biking World Champion Tracy Moseley from the United Kingdom says: “today was fun and of course the rain helped a bit. It’s nice to have some time to rest as it looks as if the next two days will be sheer hell. The Absa Cape Epic is way bigger than I expected – it’s massive. Yesterday was pretty rough, but I enjoyed today. Hopefully I’ll survive the next two days and make it to the finish line at Lourensford.”

Stage 5: Worcester to Oak Valley (143km; 2350m of climbing)

It’s 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 are 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 will be a shock to the system, not only from the gradient but also the tracks surface. In parts, the climb is rideable, barely, and only the fittest and best bike handlers are likely to make it up without dabbing a foot. As with everything, what goes up must come down, and those with full suspension bikes will be grateful for their weapon of choice.

More open roads will help get some kilometres under the belt before the radio mast comes into view. Down the other side of this deceptive climb is a fast chute into farmlands and waiting for riders is a set of rolling hills that¡¯ll deaden the legs of even the most hardened campaigner. At the 100km mark, riders reach the foot of the exquisite Groenlandberg, the grand old legend inviting us back in 2011 thanks to Cape Nature Conservation.

The 15% gradient on the concrete path should be placed conservatively, with the remainder of the climb taking most riders well over an hour to complete. The north-facing slope will make for a challenging ascent on a hot afternoon but the rocky downhill sections leads to the famed Oak Valley single-track to make it all worth it.
For a complete results list of today’s stage and all previous stages go to www.cape-epic.com/live/results2011.php

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