Absa Cape Epic part 2: Prologue - Bike Magic

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Absa Cape Epic part 2: Prologue

The Cape Epic is happening as you read this, riders are out there in the heat of South Africa at battle with not only the riders but also the climate. For a live feed of the racing, head over to the Absa Cape Epic site here, and look out for a round-up of the happenings at the event as Rachel keeps us updated.

Here’s Rachel Fenton’s second update (first one here) from the Prologue:


Words: Rachel Fenton

There is a lot to this riding as a team malarky. The Cape Epic, like many other stage races, is a pairs event. Unlike the pairs races in the UK though, you do not ride the race as a relay but complete each stage together, not able to cross a checkpoint more than 2 minutes apart without a time penalty.

Inevitably there will be a stronger and a weaker rider on any one day. The challenge for the stronger rider is to motivate their teammate without making them feel under pressure and to support them when the going gets tough. The challenge for the weaker rider is to ride within their limits and not risk running out of energy or crashing and to stay positive.

The prologue

The prologue stage of the Epic was ideal for Collyn and I to put this into practise. At only 23km with 700m of climbing this time trial stage was pretty much an XC race and therefore much more my territory than Collyn’s. Our plan was therefore for her to take the lead and set the pace according to her comfort levels and for me to provide whatever support was required. The most important factor in our plan though was simply to stick together.

As we rode through the vineyards of the Meerendal wine estate we saw a wide variety of other tactics. There were those who were smashing every climb leaving their partners for dust and breathing out of their ears struggling to keep up. Others went ahead but waited every so often to allow regrouping. Most impressive were the mixed pairs who inevitably have the biggest speed differential. When they passed us, as many did, they were always riding together and helping each other. Many of the men’s teams could learn a thing or two about teamwork from the mixed category…

Collyn and I found our feet pretty easily. Both of us were getting used to new bikes so there were some interesting moments. Notably for me, due to the need for a second bottle on the Canyon Nerve I, have a seatpost mounted bottle cage. Unfortunately today my bottle hit my back tyre every time I compressed the rear shock, which was often as the course had so many great drops and jumps. The evening’s job then, post coach transfer to the start of Stage 1, was to increase the pressure. I like being able to jump around on my bike too much to have to be careful about not compressing!

Reflecting on the prologue

I was the stronger rider of our pairing in the prologue. I hope I managed to provide the right level of encouragement. Ian Warby, my skills coach, would be proud of my use of technical tips as motivators. We completed the course in a time of 1hr 45 so we’ll be in the back pen revving our diesel engines for a longer stage. I’m enjoying this experience so much so thanks to Collyn for having me along!

Results for Prologue 

Elite men

1. Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy – Burry Stander – SONGO

2. Jose Hermida and Rudi van Houts – Multivan Merida

3. Marco Aurelio Fontana and Manuel Fumic – Cannondale Factory  Racing

Elite Women

1. Esther Suss and Jane Nuessli – BMC Wheeler

2. Sally Bigham and Milena Landtwing – Topeak Ergon

3. Catherine Williamson and Yolande Speedy – Energas


1. Erik Kleinhans and Ariane Kleinhans – RE:CM

2. Theresa Ralph and Damian Perrin – Blogen Britehouse

3. Jennie Stenerhag and Craig Gerber – Big tree

Follow me on twitter @Fentinator or read my blog www.rachelfenton.blogspot.com

Thanks to Canyon Bikes UK for supplying Rachel’s test bike.


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