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LETTERS FROM ABSA CAPE EPIC CHAMPIONS

Andrew Mclean (Team Cycle Lab)

The Absa Cape Epic was An Epic in every Respect:

Two roadies, 895km's and more than 15 000km's of climbing, O yes they never mentioned that some of the 15 000m is unridable and and at times almost unwalkable.

I have the utmost Respect for The Absa Cape Epic, Kevin Vermaak and the entire organization; It is a World class Epic MTB Event, hang on, on second thoughts, is more of an Experience than an Event. [A really Magical, Untamed Experience, like all African experiences should be]

Even as a European Professional Road Racer, it was very seldom I was able to line up with the Who's Who of road racing and test my metal [carbon] against the world leaders in the same race. However at my very first Absa Cape Epic I lined up with the current legends of World Mountain biking. [OK I must admit, many of which I did not know or respect their pedigree] This was soon sorted out......

Like 6km's out of Knysna where most of the International Express wished Damian and me, as well as the rest of the field a Bon Voyage.

Speaking of respect, almost on a daily basis at least one of the top International teams would puncture, we would pass them and then within minutes, the International Express would come gliding past faster than the Blue train between Three sisters and Laingsburg. This was an awesome display of controlled technical power, their tires might be kak and puncture more often than The milk train stops but the upside seemed to be they floated over rocks and more importantly the dreaded Karoo sand. [Well that is what it looked liked to me] By the way if I never see any Karoo sand again in my life it will not be a day too soon.

Damian Booth, my partner, is the toughest Man alive. He rode at maximal effort for 8 days and never complained whilst putting up with my insanely competitive spirit, in fact if it were not for his calming influence, I may well have ended up mounted like a prize trophy on top of a Protea on the Kamannasi or was it Kamakksi reserve descent.

We took the leaders jersey on day one; we both cramped on the final climb and nearly threw our entire lead that we had worked so hard all day to build up, away.

We then proceeded to have an Epic daily battle with Doug Brown [He could be the Diesel engine for the Blue Train] and Linus biltong Van Onseling, who at 54 was the only competitor tougher than the 07 Absa Cape Epic itself.

We punctured and lost 6 min, a day or two later they punctured and lost time.

We gradually built up a 26 min lead but never ever really felt comfortable, not from a physical point of view but certainly always knew that a mechanical could easily cost us the race at any time.

Crossing the finish line at Lorensford to win our inaugural Absa Cape Epic was a Relief, a weight lifted from our shoulders and Goal achieved.
[The best part of 6 months of training planning and dedication to the Epic]

Some Advice and Observations;

  • Choose your partner carefully!
  • Choose your partner very carefully!! [Make sure you are both singing from the same hymn sheet]
  • Prepare well. We did the Dusi 2 day event, Sabie 4 day, Barberton, Subaru Sabie, and Sani 2C as preparation.
  • Equipment is key. [Get the best equipment you can afford, start with new break pads, a new chain, cassette and chain rings]
  • Choose and test your tires carefully. [Light tyres are more prone to punctures] Thanks Continental, I did not have one single puncture.
  • Make sure you have strong wheels; The Epic is an 8 day endurance race. You and your bike needs to go the distance.
  • You need miles in the legs, remember this is like the comrades, not the 100m sprint final.
    However I think a lot of people actually over train. Get advice from someone reputable.
  • My longest training week was 14 hours.
  • I stuck to a plan and used Power Training. [Thanks Carol Austin]
  • I did a mixture of road [70%] and off road [30%] and then used Logwood Bike Haven to improve my skills, which still need some work.
    Some of the most valuable training I did was 3 times a week a 3km run; OK more like a slow shuffle. This came in handy almost daily.
  • As if not more important than training is Nutrition, this is the key to getting through the event, I used Biogen’s Carbogen on the bike, their Protein replacement [Biogen Iso-Protein] immediately after every stage and always carried a few Biogen Energy Gels in my pocket as an insurance policy. On two occasions they were just what I needed to get through to the end.
  • My wife was a wonderful source of support and encouragement as well as our travel agent, swaniour, nutritionist, driver, manager, and my biggest supporter, Thanks Ali. This support infrastructure is crucial to preparing and succeeding in an event like this.
  • Mechanical support on the Epic is crucial and well worth paying for. Thank you Witness, one of our Cycle Lab JHB mechanics for looking after Damian and me.
  • [Ali just would not add this to her portfolio ]

It was a BIG Goal, a lot of people doubted our ability and there were even those that seemed fairly convinced we would not be able to go the distance, never mind race against a lot more experienced competition.

We did it thanks to many people and sponsors, and truly recognize this as a TEAM effort in the true sense of the word.
Together Everyone Achieves More!

The Absa Cape Epic is a journey I advise every cyclist [Road and Mountain Bike] to experience!
I thoroughly enjoyed the Challenge the Absa Cape Epic and most importantly being part of the Magical Untamed African experience.

Regards,
Andrew Mclean





Paul Cordes (Team IMC/Mongoose)

Hi Fellow Mountainbikers,
 
Just sitting down for the first time after the long drive back from the Cape Epic and I think I can say I'm starting to have epic withdrawals. Perhaps one must suggest to race organizers to offer post race counseling - just doesn't feel right not climbing onto the bike for five hours a day the last few days!
 
It was definitely one of the most mentally challenging events I've ever gone through. The early lead was unexpected but very rewarding. However the weight of the leaders jersey got heavy as the event went on and even more so looking at the determination of our competitors to get their share of the top podium.
 
The dynamics of mixed racing makes this category very challenging in terms that there is a fine line between getting over excited and exposing ones competitors and overdoing it and hurting your own team. And saying this hats off to Yolande, we pushed hard in the beginning and at times perhaps too hard to get our time splits and she held together like a true pro. She didn't only have the course and the competition to deal with but she survived me pushing her to the limits everyday and for this I was very proud of her efforts.
 
The sheer size of the event - not just the number of entrants but entourage of supporters and staff with their multitudes of vehicles, shops, tents, marquees etc is truly impressive. Also the way the race is built up everyday from its world class team of commentators pumping up all the tiered bodies at every start to the support dished out at every water point to the fantastic dinners and prize giving's - unforgettable!
 
Our competition was truly impressive. The second team of Nico Pfitzenmaier and Ivonne Kraft from Germany kept us on our toes the entire race. They never let up right to the end and I admire them for this. Nico has finished 10th in the Exterra World Champs and 2nd overall in the European exterra series last year. Ivonne placed 13th in the 2006 Mtb World Champs and in the World Cup Marathon #1 Gran Canaria she was 2nd overall on the 16 March 2007 just to mention a few. Geddan Ruddock from South Africa and his Canadian team-mate Jean Ann Mckirdy who is their current National Champion put in a big effort every day to take third in the overall.
 
The Durravit girls rode really well and beat us on a couple of days. We fortunately got them in the overall as I probably would have never heard the end of it. Andrew gave Damian a hard time but he hung tuff and they turned out to be a very deserving pair who were able to dominate their veteran counter parts (all those hours at Logwood have obviously paid off).
 
The route had such a nice combination of open dirt roads and technical jeep tracks. A sprinkling of asphalt and what felt like a daily portage kept ones calves honest. I never thought that I would say this but Yolande and I were out-ridden in the technical sections by the German pair. Steep up and down hill sections we were losing time to them but we made the rolling, fast sections and power climbing areas count in our favour.
 
I also made the decision before the race to ride the all-new Mongoose Canaan full-suspension. I was having my doubts on day one as we ground up the never ending but fairly smooth Prince Alfred's pass. However from day two when the course decided to raise its rocky teeth the Canaan was definitely my friend. Come to think of it by day six I was even riding it on soft setting on the tar sections. For a manly sport I think many a tear was shed when first sitting down on the saddle every morning so thank you Mongoose for easing the pain. The other decision we took was to ride the all new Small Block Eight tires from Kenda. They gripped well, rolled fast, sealed every thorn and lasted the entire 900km. (only technical trouble we had was due to a faulty conversion valve and one thumper of a crash)
 
This was also the first year that towing ones partner with some form of rope was banned. This now made it a race in the mixed category of the strength of the weakest rider and no longer that of the strongest rider. This suited us perfectly because we all know of Yolandes strength and with my experience it made us a great team. We finished 19th in the overall (8th South African Team overall), we won a stage (initial goal) then four more and went on to win the overall mixed bringing and end to a year of racing together and winning every multi-stage we set out to do.
 
This has probably been my career highlight, we were treated like pro's, beat off the strongest competition, brought home one of the best results for our sponsors and now can focus on normal life after the Epic - with or without counseling! So as the win sinks in and we start to refocus on our goals one thing is for certain I will never forget the 2007 Cape Epic.
 
Regards,
 
Paul Cordes
IMC/Mongoose
 
 RUMINATIONS FROM THE MAN ON THE STREET - NEIL FRAZER'S (CLUB 100) EPIC EXPERIENCE

Optimal Operating Systems

I have confession to make, I have ridden 4 Cape Epics and I cannot really remember vast swathes of the routes and places that I have been to during the almost 4,000km and 64,000m of climbing that it has taken to finish this zeitgeist of an event. I have notorious poor sense of direction and cannot remember routes or places and get muddled trying to differentiate the events. But it is weird because it is almost as if each event, by each and every sense in my body, of each and every second taken is downloaded to my operating system and converted into conscious or sub-conscious emotions. I can now differentiate fynbos by smell, I know the rooi-bos, citronella, aniseed and other smells and where they will likely to be growing or where I am likely to fall into them. I can tell what 40 degree heat does to the air and moisture in the Karoo – not really all good. I know what the light looks like against a Cape mountain on an Autumnal morning with 1,000 riders snaking together out of a village – beautiful, but justice is only done by being in the bunch yourself. What I cannot do is differentiate between Riversdale, Barrydale, Montague and other landmarks and towns. Ask me to name the towns in order that the race visited and you are on a hiding to nothing.

I do not regard this as a short-coming because I do have the events downloaded into my operating system and besides being difficult to retrieve they are stored there forever. I have enjoyed every single event and have enjoyed being part of the events growth from concept to fully fledged world class event on the cusp of stardom.

What I do always remember are the heroes of the event and the normal people who make this event the compulsory pilgrimage that it has become for me and many others. These are some of my heroes and characters of the Cape Epic 2007 which for me was a battle of strength and will to finish with a ruptured bicep and damaged rotator cuff stuff, with my brain telling me I was in fantastic condition and should be racing. So in brief

  • Morningside Cycles – who flew a replacement frame in for me in the week before the race after I had cracked my beloved Yeti and was having a bout of the wobblies. Also for becoming our race mechanic after our mechanic went AWOL in the Karoo leaving us stranded. To Colin, Kirk and Alex thanks for the support and care – it made a difference and not only to myself but a host of other needy individuals.
  • To all the people who provided me support, care, attention, advice and pharmaceuticals to get through the race. But especially emotional support – it made all the differences, a little some times goes a long way. To a lot of people but especially.
    • Roy and Peter the doctors –without you it would have ended in tears
    • Richard the dentist – no medical but thanks for the support by my side when I was suffering
    • Kevin Bulcher of Cyclelab - thanks for all the support and motivation.
    • Harold Zumpt and lynn Jackson – your support was a tremendous and pushed me through some tough times.
    • My Energade team who were understanding and never failed to stop believing in my ability to finish. A special thanks to Gary, Kate and Kerry who provided admin, sarmie and clean bike support without which I would have been up the Palmiet River without a paddle.
    • To everyone else who may not have been close but still on my side – a great deal of thanks and kudos to each and everyone of you fantastic individuals.
  • To The Ra-Ra people of the Epic
    • Hedi the bell ringer – a sight for sore eyes (actually Henreich’s wife Katrina) but a motivation on the FPC van on some tough stretches of the Epic.
    • Steve the Day-trippers lunatic and road sweeper and Mexican wave initiator – got me going on more than one occasion.
    • Without any cynicism to Mike Mike and putting your hands up in Zee Air. Also Paul and the other announcers.
    • To the lady with the umbrella and feathers – not quiet sure but a regular sight none the less.
  • To Andrew and Damien – what a fantastic race you rode and what a difference you have made to the mtb community in general. I think that you were a credit to the sport and yourselves, I am proud to know such talented old toppies.
  • Anke and Yolandie – fully deserved credit for a world class effort. 8/8
  • Yolanda and Paul – also a well ridden race and an abundance of grit and determination.
  • Food – the food on the Epic was brilliant and plentiful. The Tiger Brands breakfasts were outstanding even if you had to risk the feeding frenzy of the killer cycle ants to get near a feeding table.
  • Sponsors – all of the Epic sponsors but Especially Energade who made my race possible. Energade driven by Neil Brimacombe and Kate Popewell made a huge effort and big contribution to a fantastic team. The Energade teams did very well in the face of strong competition and the MTN Energade pro teams held their own in the face of some the best riders in the world.
  • Myself: because for some reason I believe that being an Amabubesi and finishing this bastard of a race will make a difference to my design for life and that some things are worth fighting for despite severe physical and psychological hurdles. But by comparison the rest of the year should be a breeze.
  • iPod’s because when everything and everyone else fails, Bono, Kurt, Elvis, Johnny and Bruce will continue to have a word in your ear about hard lands, many bridges to cross and wandering – Thanks guys, Celine you can stay in Vegas.

Rides this week,

The time has come to ride at a slower pace to experience the surroundings and to hone your skills, social, environmental and cyclical. Perdiodisation at it’s finest and most enjoyable.

Day

Date

Time

Place

Duration

Type

Help-Cell

Mon

9th

Rest

Rest Day

Below the radar and below the duvet

Tue

10th

5:00am

Engen Main Rd

90 min

Race Day

Tuesdays will always and for ever more be race days, no surprises, only pain

Wed

11th

5:00am

Engen Main Rd

120 min

Bus Route

Same time but shorter and easier route. Meet at any point along the route, Engen @ 5:15

Thu

12th

5:00am

Engen Main Rd

90 min

Slow Day

Thursdays at a sedate pace more calories burnt and flexible legs

Fri

13th

5:00am

Engen Main Rd

90 min

Surf & Turf

The same old same old but now a light and company is essential. Also coffee & HO-CHO

Sat

14th

7:00am

M&B Paulshof

120 min

UnwindJ

Post Epic, winter style ride, later and with more emphasis on styling than maxing

Sun

16th

7:00am

M&B Paulshof

180 min

LSD

Proper Proper LSD, until the spring classics, detractors will feel the ferocity of a paint ball gun

For all rides you need:

  • Helmet – This is a no brainer.
  • Bike - Good working order, bolts tightened and drive train working.
  • Mobile phone – on and charged, ICE – emergency details.
  • Bring Cash - Coffee grows on trees but needs to be converted.
  • ALL TYRES MUST BE PROTECTED AGAINST PUNCTURES WITH SLIME.
  • Wear your Club100 kit. Don't have, Charmaine on 011-575-3120.
  • Bring along enough energy drink/water and energy bars.
  • Good Karma, because it scares the demons.
  • LUBE, everything goes better, longer, harder with quality lube.

Club100km/hr goes full inversion laid back
The following are some of the events that will take care of your stress in the next few weeks as we attempt to bring the speed down, reduce the distance and get involved in some less antagonistic riding.

  • Skills Clinic – see details below
  • Family Day – see details below
  • Night Ride – 26th April 6:00pm from the Riverside Shopping centre - Bryanston Drive. 2 hours and then some pizza, vino, and whatever comes to mind. Get light headed in the name of a descent into the dark side.
  • LSD – means LSD
  • Ladies Day – date to be confirmed, come out of hiding the testosterone has been dented.
  • Yeti Day – in conjunction with MSC at Van Gaalens cheese farm – this will be a belter of a day on a fantastic ride with some outstanding single track and family fun. Soon enough but also to be confirmed.
  • Logwood – a Sunday ride at Logwood because now falling 3m off a bridge will not cost you an Epic. Soon, very soon 22nd April with or without me and my ruptured bicep.
  • Breakfast is more or less compulsory – coffee, chow and mates post ride is fundamental to happiness on the trail.
  • Bridge to Terror beneath the trail – my excuses have worn pathetically thin and now I need to contribute to the trail and I need help, ideas and resources. I will set up some trail days but the outcome is going to be a thing of beauty and a legacy for all riders.

This is the sort of ethos and style for the next few months – who knows I may even get my baggy shorts out of hiding and start acting like riding is fun – Dude.

All that said, I will also be putting together a venomous veteran (& Sub) racing squad for Club100 to challenge the snakes who ever they may be. We have resources a pro team and the will. Call me before I “invite” you to race for Club100, we will formidable.

Trail Building

Thanks to everyone who pitched on Saturday and put your backs into the trail. The new trail cut out at the 2nd Bryanston Scout Hall (near Ballyclare Road) looks awesome and keeps the ride flowing. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

Also, a big PARDON ME for not pitching on Saturday. No excuses, I am a pathetic pile of doo-doo. I will make up for it this weekend.

I have the gumpoles and the wood for the bridges, so it’s full steam ahead. We will be assembling the first bridge (near the Riverside shops) this Saturday at 12 o clock. We also need some assistance with cutting the grass (we have brush-cutters) and cleaning the new singletrack.

Please let us know if you will be coming through and what tools or materials you have available for us to use.

Here are the gory details:-

Saturday, 14 April 2007, 12pm. Meet at the Bryanston Scout Hall. Bring along your hammers, and some wood saws. We will provide the nails.

We have planned the late start as we know most of you are no prepared to forego a ride at any cost. Therefore, we expect that you will all show up to help on Saturday. Bring the family and anyone you know who uses the Spruit for any purpose to come and give us a hand.

Skills Clinic
5th May 2007 – 3:00pm

Where: Keegans – Main Rd Lonehill just before Leeukop Prison.

Time: 3:00pm.

Duration: 2 hours.

Cost: Free for lovers of cycling.

Who: Anyone of any level, do not be discouraged for any reason.

What: Learn something no matter who you are and come for the post ride frosties and with live music.

This is a loosely structured clinic with the emphasis on improving everyone’s skill/talent. It also serves as a social function for the current and possible crop of Club100 mountain bikers.

kwoolmer@mweb.co.za or neil.frazer@lifehealthcare.co.za for more details.

Family Fun Ride
6th May 2007 – 7:45am

The support for the family fun ride along the Braamfontein Spruit was phenomenal. So please let us know whether you would be more keen to attend rides up the Spruit or whether you would like to predominantly use Northern Farms by voting on our website poll at www.club100.co.za. The next family fun ride will be on 6 May 2007. (Route to be advised). This is a beginner’s ride, but we ask that your kids must be on at least a 20 inch BMX and are able to ride for at least 1:30mins. RSVP – kwoolmer@mweb.co.za. Check out the “Great Heart” video clip on http://www.club100.co.za/mtb/gallery/957768.htm to see what it’s all about. Wanna be in the next Club100 MTB Video, be there.

I love deadlines, I especially love the whoosing sound as they go flying by.

Kayn & Neil

www.club100.co.za

SATURDAY 24 MARCH 2007


MOUNTAINS MAKETH THE MEN

By Sean Badenhorst


As was widely expected, the world’s best climbers made the most of the mountainous first stage of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic on Saturday and virtually ripped the race apart upsetting some former champions and pre-race favourites in the process.
Germans Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm on Team Bulls proved to be the most nimble of the climbing specialists, powering their way to a rapid 04 hours, 01 minute, 16 seconds for the 101km haul that started in Knysna and finished in Uniondale. The best South African team was Raleigh MTN Energade 1 comprising Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart, who finished in a respectable 10th place overall.
In one of the most gruelling Cape Epic stages to date, the field of more than 1200 riders had to ascend a total of 2660 metres, starting in the lush coastal forest and ending in the dry Karoo desert.
But former winner Platt and Sahm had more than just the huge climbs to overcome and had to fend off most of the world’s leading mountain bikers to secure the win, which they had to fight for right down to the final few metres where they outsprinted the Cannondale Vredestein 1 team of Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Frederik Kassiakoff (SWE) who were second in the same time. World marathon champion Ralf Naf (SUI) and Jose Hermida (ESP) on the Multivan Merida 1 team rounded out the podium less than three minutes later in 04:03:52.
The Raleigh MTN Energade pair of Evans and Stewart salvaged some South African pride to finish in a respectable 10th place in 04:15:33, just less than 15 minutes down on the winners, but within five minutes of sixth place.
“We were in fifth place at 75km, but we hit a bad patch on the final climb and lost a few places, but hopefully not too much time,” said Evans, who was satisfied with the performance that secured him and Stewart the Absa African Team leader’s jersey and kept them well within the mix for success in subsequent stages.
Following Evans and Stewart home were compatriots Max Knox and Oliver Munnik (Adidas William Simpson) in 11th place in 04:21:06, with the Raleigh MTN Energade 2 pair of Mannie Heymans and Melt Swanepoel the third South African team home in 13th place in 04:24:04.

MOUNTAIN MAYHEM
After the initial climbs in the first 40km, 13 teams made up the lead pack with virtually all the pre-race favourites present. Then at 57km, on the stiff climb that preceded the day’s main mountain pass, Swiss superstar and current World Cup champion, Christoph Sauser, riding on the Specialized team with Johan Palhuber (ITA), punctured and was forced to expend vital energy in the frenetic chase to rejoin the leaders.
Sauser and Palhuber found unexpected assistance in the pair of South African road riders, David George and Rupert Rheeder, who had been dropped earlier, and the quartet caught the lead pack shortly before the feared 14km leg-and-lung busting Prince Alfred’s Pass. But the massive effort proved to be the undoing of both teams as they got pummelled into submission by the fast pace on the early slopes of the ascent that left just six teams in the lead, including the Raleigh MTN Energade pairing of Evans and Stewart.
But as many had predicted, the long mountain pass proved to be the stage-deciding obstacle and at the summit, just three teams – all containing previous winners – remained out front: 2004 winner Platt and Sahm, 2005 winner Bart Brentjens with his Dutch compatriot Rudi van Houts (Team Dolphin); and the other 2005 winner, Paulissen (BEL) and Kessiakhoff.
A puncture on an old ox-wagon trail section just 8km from the finish forced Van Houts and Brentjens out of the podium battle that was ultimately won by the super-strong Germans.
On Sunday, the riders will tackle 132km haul from Uniondale to Oudtshoon. Most of the 2245m of climbing are within the first 60km.
“Some big names like Sauser also lost time on the leaders today and will probably make the racing aggressive in the next few stages to try and make up that time,” said Evans. “Hopefully we can be strong enough to do something similar, but we’ll certainly be sure to make any decisions with caution.”

2007 Absa Cape Epic
Stage 1, 101km from Knysna to Uniondale
Leading results:
Men: 1 Team Bull – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 04hrs01min16sec; 2 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Frederik Kassiakoff (SWE) same time; 3 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 04:03:52; 4 Giant Athleticum – Silvio Bundi (SUI) / Gion Manetsch (SUI) 04:05:26; 5 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED); 6 Specialized – Christoph Sauser (SUI) / Johan Palhuber (ITA); 7 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 04:13:38; 8 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 04:14:40; 9 Multivan Merida 2 – Moritz Milatz (GER) / Tim Boehme (GER) 04:15:18; 10 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 04:15:33.
Masters: 1 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 04:41:02; 2 Red Mongoose – M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) 04:43:46; 3 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 04:46:34.
Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 04:54:59; 2 Adidas Fiat Rotwild – Kerstin Brachtendorf (GER) / Danielle Troesch (FRA) 05:17:24; 3 Texner BMC Thoemas – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 05:24:11.
Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 04:46:35; 2 Marsilio Projects – Peter Stopforth (RSA) / Ischen Stopforth (RSA) 04:53:40; 3 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 04:58:35.

For more results and race information, visit www.cape-epic.com


SUNDAY 25 MARCH 2007


TOP-10 SHAKE-UP AS DISTANCE TAKES ITS TOLL

By Sean Badenhorst

The longest day of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic resulted in a top-10 shake-up including a change in the lead as the Cannondale Vredestein 1 team of Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) put minutes into their rivals over the 132km leg from Uniondale to Oudtshoorn to win the second stage and claim the overall lead.

After being pipped in the sprint on Stage 1, Paulissen and Fuglsang made sure there wouldn’t be another tight finish when they charged clear of Stage 1 winners, Karl Platt (GER) and Stefan Sahm (GER) of Team Bulls to secure the win in 04 hours, 58 minutes, 24 seconds. Team Bulls clocked 05:01:35 with Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) rounding out the top three in 05:02:33.

The South Africans had a better day with three local teams in the top 10. Former Cape Epic winner, Mannie Heymans and his Raleigh MTN Energade 2 teammate, Melt Swanepoel, rode a steady stage to finish seventh in 05:19:05. The Adidas William Simpson pair of Shan Wilson and Jacques Rossouw were ninth in 05:23:01, with Raleigh MTN Energade’s Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart 10th in 05:24:11.

“We’re riding within ourselves,” said Heymans, winner of seven Cape Epic stages in the past and, at 35, one of the most experienced riders in the race. “This is an eight-day race. You can have seven great days and one bad day and lose a lot of time. We’re taking a slightly cautious approach and hoping our consistency pays off.”

Heymans’ teammate, Swanepoel is still recovering from a recent bout of flu, but Sunday’s result shows that he’s approaching full health again and despite losing time on the second stage; Evans and Stewart retain the Absa African Team leader’s jersey.

“We didn’t have a great day today,” said a disappointed Evans afterwards. “Brandon struggled towards the end of the stage and we lost a lot of time. We were with a group of five teams, including Mannie and Melt at the last water point with 15km to go, but lost five minutes to them by the finish.”

But the biggest losers on Sunday were the Specialized pair of Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Johan Palhuber (ITA). Despite cresting the summit of the gruelling 12km climb at 50km in the lead, Palhuber first punctured and then blew, leaving them to trail across the finish line in 14th place, dropping them from sixth to 12th in the overall standings.

STAIRWAY TO WHERE?
The key obstacle on Sunday’s stage was the misnamed rocky 12km jeep track called Stairway to Heaven that came after just 42km. All the top teams were forced to dismount and push at some point up the testing ascent, which gains 800m metres at an average gradient of more than six percent.

It was here that the race split apart and reaching the summit with Sauser and Palhuber at the front was Paulissen and Fuglsang. Three teams, Brentjens/Van Houts, Platt/Sahm and Multivan Merida’s Ralf Naf (ESP) and Jose Hermida (ESP) were a minute back. The long descent proved to be the day’s big bike breaker and various mechanical stoppages among the leading five teams ensued, resulting in time gaps opening up with more than 50km of undulating terrain remaining.

“That Stairway to Heaven mountain needs to be renamed!” said Heymans. “It’s as tough as any of the hardest climbs in Europe and if you weren’t careful, you would have suffered a sense of humour failure,” smiled the enigmatic Namibian.

After two stages, the overall race now seems to be a three-way tussle between leaders Paulissen/Fuglsang, the Germans Platt/Sahm, second overall just over three minutes back and the Dutch pairing of Brentjens/Van Houts (NED), 10 minutes off the pace.

Paulissen, Platt and Brentjens are all former Cape Epic winners so will know that one bad day, physically or mechanically, can result in dramatic changes in the General Classification. Stage 3 from Oudtshoorn to Ladismith is widely regarded as the race-maker or breaker. The distance of 128km isn’t quite the longest of the race, but with 2425 metres of climbing in store and two days worth of racing already in the legs, it’s likely to be decisive.

2007 Absa Cape Epic
Stage 2, 132km from Uniondale to Oudtshoorn
Leading results:
Men: 1 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 04hrs58min24sec; 2 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 05:01:35; 3 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 05:02:33; 4 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 05:11:46; 5 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 05:12:48; 6 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 05:19:04; 7 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 05:19:05; 8 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 05:20:55; 9 Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) 05:23:01; 10 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 05:24:11.
Masters: 1 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 05:45:32; 2 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 05:54:33; 3 Red Mongoose – M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) 05:57:19.
Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 06:00:02; 2 Adidas Fiat Rotwild – Kerstin Brachtendorf (GER) / Danielle Troesch (FRA) 06:35:02; 3 Texner BMC Thoemas – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 06:53:23.
Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 05:53:11; 2 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 05:54:39; 3 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) 05:58:47.

General Classification after Stage 2
Men: 1 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 08hrs59min41sec; 2 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 09:02:51; 3 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 09:09:54; 4 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 09:15:38; 5 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 09:27:29; 6 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 09:32:43; 7 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 09:39:44; 8 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 09:43:09; 9 Giant Athleticum – Silvio Bundi (SUI) / Gion Manetsch (SUI) 09:44:14; 10 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 09:49:16.
Masters: 1 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 10:26:35; 2 Red Mongoose – M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) 10:41:06; 3 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 10:41:07.
Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 10:55:02; 2 Adidas Fiat Rotwild – Kerstin Brachtendorf (GER) / Danielle Troesch (FRA) 11:52:27; 3 Texner BMC Thoemas – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 12:17:34.
Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 10:39:46; 2 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 10:53:15; 3 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) 11:09:18.

For more results and race information, visit www.cape-epic.com


Mannie Heymans of Raleigh MTN Energade 2 walks his bike up the gruelling Stairway to Heaven climb on Stage 2 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.

Brandon Stewart of Raleigh MTN Energade 1, wearing the Absa African Team leader’s jersey, pushes his bike up the Stairway to Heaven climb on Stage 2 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.

Mannie Heymans (front) and Melt Swanepeol of Raleigh MTN Energade 2 were the leading South African team in seventh place overall on Stage 2 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.

MONAY 26 MARCH 2007


SMOOTH MOVE GIVES CANNONDALE VREDESTEIN ANOTHER WIN

By Sean Badenhorst

In move dripping with irony, the Cannondale Vredestein 1 team of Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) used an 8km section of tar road to drop their nearest rivals and went on to win Stage 3 and extend their overall lead in the 2007 Absa Cape Epic on Monday.

With 40km to go on the 128km leg from Oudtshoorn to Ladismith, the two teams led the field onto an eight kilometre section of tar and it was here that Paulissen and Fuglsang gave the slip to Team Bulls, the German pairing of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm. The Cannondale Vredestein 1 pair continued strongly, extending their lead to clock a quick four hours, 56 minutes and eight seconds, more than three minutes ahead of Platt and Sahm, who finished in 04:59:55.

World marathon champion, Ralph Naf (SUI) and his Multivan Merida 1 teammate, Jose Hermida (ESP), pulled off an incredible recovery to finish third in 05:05:08. Hampered by early mechanical problems, the pair were 10 minutes down in 14th place at the summit of the climb at 45km. But they chased most of their rivals down by the finish and were rewarded with a one-place move up to third in the General Classification. Dropping out of third overall was former Olympic champion, Bart Brentjens and his Dutch compatriot Rudi van Houts of Team Dolphin, who finished fifth on the stage.

The two Raleigh MTN Energade teams continued to fly the South African flag by finishing together to claim ninth and tenth places. Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart were first home in 05:18:52, maintaining their seventh place overall and retaining the Absa African Team leader’s jersey. Mannie Heymans and Melt Swanepoel clocked 05:18:53 and dropped down one place to ninth in the GC.

“We kept it really steady today and it seemed pay off,” said Stewart. “We were actually closing down the three teams ahead of us quite quickly towards the finish, which was encouraging. It’s good to feel so in control in the final kilometres of a stage.

“Both our teams stuck together from the first water point onwards. Melt actually crashed early on and Kevin was suffering a bit from a bad stomach so Mannie and I did a fair bit of the pacing today,” Stewart added.

In the women’s race, Duravit’s Anke Erlank and Yolande de Villiers maintained their perfect record to win a third consecutive stage and extend their lead even further, while in the Mixed category, Yolande Speedy and Paul Cordes on Team IMC Mongoose secured a third stage victory and 20th place overall on the day, in the process increasing their category lead to 20 minutes.

There was a change in the hotly-contested Masters category as winners of the first two stages, Andrew McLean and Damian Booth (Cycle Lab), fell victim to a puncture with 50km to go and were unable to make up their time loss to nearest rivals, the Absa Masters pair of Linus van Onselen and Doug Brown, who won the stage from McLean and Booth by over six minutes. The latter still however maintain an eight-minute lead in the Masters division.

Two gruelling climbs punctuated Monday’s stage, the first, Fielie’s Folly, at 42km with an average gradient of 14 percent; and the second at 70km, a 3km ascent up stony jeep track, known as the Calitzdorp Crusher. All the leading riders walked at various sections on the second climb except 2004 Cape Epic winner Mannie Heymans on Raleigh MTN Energade 2 and Alban Lakata, the Austrian on the Trek Volkswagen team.

“Ja, the uphills were very rocky and tricky but I’m one of the few pros that still rides with a granny gear chainring so I was able to keep going when others couldn’t. It’s really about keeping traction and maintaining a steady rhythm from the bottom to the top,” said Heymans.

Stage 4 is another long haul of 121km from Ladismith to Barrydale, but is far less mountainous than the first three stages. There is also very little in the way of technical terrain which the riders (and their mechanics) will no doubt appreciate. Expect a fast pace and a bunch sprint for the stage win.

2007 Absa Cape Epic
Stage 3, 128km from Oudtshoorn to Ladismith
Leading results:
Men: 1 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 04hrs56min08sec; 2 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 04:59:55; 3 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 05:05:08; 4 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 05:09:09; 5 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 05:11:30; 6 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 05:16:27; 7 Giant Athleticum – Silvio Bundi (SUI) / Gion Manetsch (SUI) 05:16:27; 8 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 05:16:53; 9 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 05:18:52; 10 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 05:18:53.

Masters: 1 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 05:38:48; 2 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 05:44:56; 3 Miles for Marrow – Jacques Malan (RSA) / Bobby Sculling (RSA) 05:56:25.

Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 05:49:2; 2 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 05:56:04; 3 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) 06:05:51.

Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 06:30:57.


General Classification after Stage 3
Men: 1 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 13hrs55min49sec; 2 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 14:02:46; 3 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 14:20:47; 4 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 14:21:25; 5 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 14:36:39; 6 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 14:49:36; 7 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 14:58:37; 8 Giant Athleticum – Silvio Bundi (SUI) / Gion Manetsch (SUI) 15:00:41; 9 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 15:02:02; 10 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 15:05:43.

Masters: 1 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 16:11:31; 2 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 16:19:56; 3 Red Mongoose – M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) 16:44:36.

Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 16:29:09; 2 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 16:49:20; 3 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) 17:15:10.

Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 17:25:59.


For more results and race information, visit www.cape-epic.com

The two Raleigh MTN Energade teams (from left), Mannie Heymans, Brandon Stewart, Melt Swanepoel and Kevin Evans rode the whole way together to finish ninth and 10th on Stage 3 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.

Brandon Stewart (front) and Kevin Evans of Raleigh MTN Energade 1, wearing the Absa African Team leader’s jerseys rode consistently to retain their lead in that category and their seventh place overall in the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.

Mannie Heymans of Raleigh MTN Energade 2 was one of only two riders to ride the whole way up the challenging Calitzdorp Crusher climb during Stage 3 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.



TUESDAY 27 MARCH 2007


BRAVE SOUTH AFRICANS INSPIRE A DAY OF DRAMA

By Sean Badenhorst

South Africans Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart of Team Raleigh MTN Energade 1 inspired a day of drama at the 2007 Absa Cape Epic on Tuesday when they attacked the field after just 15km and went in search of a coveted stage win.

But their podium hopes were crushed by Swiss world marathon champion Ralf Naf and his Spanish Multivan Merida teammate, Jose Hermida, who started the chase, caught and passed the plucky South Africans, and went on to claim their first stage win, completing the 121km fourth stage from Ladismith to Barrydale in four hours, seven minutes and 52 seconds.

Crossing the finish line in second place, less than 10 seconds later was Team Bulls, the German pair of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, whose time of 04:08:01 was more than three-and-a-half minutes quicker than overall race leaders, the Cannondale Vredestein 1 pair of Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang, who were third in 04:11:33.

Paulissen and Fuglsang, winners of the previous two stages were plagued by bad luck with three punctures and a torn tyre delaying their progress. They chased back hard though but lost half of their seven-minute-plus lead over Platt and Sahm, who now trail by just three minutes and 24 seconds. The ill fate that befell of Cannondale Vredestein 1 inadvertently reinstated some suspense into a race that appeared to be leaning heavily in their direction even before halfway in the eight-day event.

In a courageous display of defiance, Evans and Stewart, lying seventh overall at the start of the stage, built up a three-minute lead on the field at one point, but it was in the Leopard Rock Game Reserve before halfway where Naf and Hermida decided to begin the chase in earnest. The only riders able to stay with them were Platt and Sahm and the newly paired multiple world cup champion Christoph Sauser (SUI) and top South African professional road rider, 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, David George. The original partners of both riders were ill and withdrew after Stage 3. Race rules allow remaining riders to pair up with a new partner but they are not permitted to claim stage podium places or influence the racing in any way, i.e. they’re not permitted to contribute to the pace making or provide mechanical assistance to others.

Evans and Stewart were eventually caught at 95km and a pat on the back from the world champion as he powered past will have given them some measure of satisfaction. They soldiered on steadily in the hopes of claiming the final podium spot, but could only watch helplessly as they were passed by Paulissen and Fuglsang with just 5km remaining.

“After three days of conservative riding, we decided to take the racing to the ‘okes’ today,” said a weary, but upbeat Stewart, who won a stage in similar fashion last year.
“We obviously had no help up front so had to ride into the wind alone and that eventually takes it out of you. We had to show some fighting South African spirit and give it our best shot, but we’ll know tomorrow how much of our ‘pie’ we ate today.”

A slight rise in the road one kilometre from the finish was all Naf and Hermida needed to get a gap on Platt and Sahm who seemed more interested in the time gains they were making over Cannondale Vredestein 1 than contesting the stage win.
 
Evans and Stewart finished fourth in 04:12:57 and increased their lead in the Absa African team competition over their stable mates, Mannie Heymans and Melt Swanepoel of Raleigh MTN Energade 2, who were eighth on the stage in 04:20:59.  

After the stage, the top seven places in the General Classification remained unchanged, but dropping out courtesy of a shocking fourth stage was Giant Athleticum, the Swiss duo of Silvio Bundi and Gion Manetsch, who slipped from eighth to 12th. Moving into eighth place was the steadily-improving all-German Stevens team of Johannes Sickmeuller and Rene Birkenfeld, while a third South African team, Adidas William Simpson’s Shan Wilson and Jacques Rossouw, moved up to 10th.

However by the start of the fifth stage, there may be some changes at the top of the GC: The fifth placed Trek Volkswagen pair of Alban Lakata and Peter Roman were awaiting a decision from the race commissaries with regard to a time penalty for not riding together. The pair were allegedly more than the permitted two minutes apart at both checkpoints en route and could face a one-hour penalty. The fourth-placed Dutch Team Dolphin duo of Bart Brentjens and Rudi van Houts may also be doubtful starters on Wednesday as Van Houts is suffering with stomach illness.

The Duravit team of Anke Erlank and Yolande de Villiers claimed their fourth successive stage win on Wednesday to extend their lead in the women’s race, while the IMC Mongoose pair of Yolande Speedy and Paul Cordes kept their Mixed title hopes firmly on track with their fourth stage victory.

The highly competitive Master’s category produced more new faces on top of the podium in the form of the Danish team of Mads Bodker and Henrik Cohen (Nordic Sportcenter). Cycle Lab’s Andrew McLean and Damian Booth were second but retained their category lead and are placed an impressive 16th overall.

At 101km, Stage 5 from Barrydale to Montagu is relatively short compared to the first four stages. But two vicious climbs await the riders, the first at 28km, a 5km singletrack ascent that climbs 345m and the second at 72km, a 7km beast that rises 430m.


2007 Absa Cape Epic
Stage 4, 121km from Ladismith to Barrydale
Leading results:
Men: 1 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 04:07:52; 2 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 04:08:01; 3 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 4:11:33; 4 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 04:12:57; 5 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 04:14:49; 6 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 04:17:32; 7 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 04:17:33; 8 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 04:20:59; 9 Multivan Merida 2 Moritz Milatz (GER) / Tim Boehme (GER) 04:24:47; 10 Texner BMC Acqiris – Jonas Vuille (SUI) / Vullioud Phillipe (SUI) 04:25:43.

Masters: 1 Nordic Sportcenter – Mads Bodker (DEN) / Henrik Cohen (DEN) 04:34:15; 2 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 04:34:29; 3 Red Mongoose – M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) 04:39:25.

Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 04:46:32; 2 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) 04:47:18; Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 04:54:17.
 
Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 04:46:01; 2 Cube WLS Kristine Noergaard (DEN) / Anna-Sofie Noergaard (DEN) 05:13:21; 3 Texner BMC Thoemus – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 05:15:34.


General Classification after Stage 4
Men:
1 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 18hrs07min23sec; 2 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 18:10:47; 3 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 18:28:39; 4 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 18:49:52; 5 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 18:54:11; 6 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 19:07:09; 7 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 19:11:35; 8 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 19:20:32; 9 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 19:23:02; 10 Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) 19:42:27.

Masters: 1 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 20:46:01; 2 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 21:06:45; 3 Red Mongoose – M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) 21:24:01.

Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 21:15:41; 2 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 21:43:37; 3 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) 22:02:29.

Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 22:12:01; 2 Texner BMC Thoemus – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 24:34:40; 3 Cube WLS Kristine Noergaard (DEN) / Anna-Sofie Noergaard (DEN) 25:05:14.

For more results and race information, visit www.cape-epic.com


The Raleigh MTN Energade 1 pair of Kevin Evans (front) and Brandon Stewart, wearing the Absa African team leader’s jerseys, spiced up the fourth stage of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic with a daring 80km breakaway.

The Raleigh MTN Energade 2 duo of Mannie Heymans (front) and Melt Swanepoel finished Tuesday’s fourth stage in eighth place.


WEDNESDAY 28 MARCH 2007


TEAM BULLS CHARGE BACK INTO THE LEAD

By Sean Badenhorst

Former Olympic champion Bart Brentjens and his compatriot Rudi van Houts of Team Dolphin staged a remarkable recovery to claim victory on Stage 5 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic on a day that saw six changes in the top-10 positions including the overall lead.

On Tuesday Van Houts was visibly ill and the Dutch duo finished 12th, 21 minutes behind the Stage 4 winners. But on Wednesday Van Houts was a different man as he and Brentjens powered through the 102km stage from Barrydale to Montagu in three hours, 41 minutes, 32 seconds. Fourteen seconds later, the Team Bulls pair of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, crossed the finish to claim second on the stage, in the process regaining the race lead. The Germans now have a 1min21sec lead over Cannondale Vredestein 1’s Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang, who were once again hindered by mechanical trouble.

The Cannondale Vredestein 2 pair of Kashi Leuchs (NZL) and Axel Bult (DEN) completed the podium positions in 3:42:11 more than four minutes ahead of their stable mates Paulissen and Fuglsang, who were fifth in 3:46:31. The latter pair punctured just before halfway, and were unable to match the fierce pace of the leading two teams, The Bulls and Team Dolphin, who averaged almost 28kph for the stage.

The top four South African teams finished together in a group 20 minutes behind the stage winners, with Raleigh MTN Energade 1’s Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart ending 12th, but retaining the Absa African team leaders’ jerseys. Shan Wilson and Jacques Rossouw were eighth followed by fellow Adidas William Simpson squad members, Oliver Munnik and Max Knox in 10th. Raleigh MTN Energade 2’s Mannie Heymans and Melt Swanepoel were 11th.

“Brandon and I went with the early break but punctured after 10km. In hindsight it was a probably a blessing because my legs were a bit numb after yesterday’s breakaway so we ended up riding tempo with a few other teams to the finish,” said Evans. “Hopefully tomorrow we’ll feel a bit fresher as there is some climbing towards the end and some of the teams that took it easy today are probably going to be firing tomorrow!”

Early on Wednesday’s stage a break containing most of the leading teams, including Evans and Stewart, moved clear of the field. When the lead group reached the first major climb at 28km, the Multivan Merida 2 duo of Milatz Moritz and Tim Boehme attacked, splintering the pack on the steep 5km singletrack slope. They set about building a solid lead but then punctured, leaving the Cannondale Vredestein 2 pair of Leuchs and Bult to ride in front alone in search of stage glory.

But a hard chasing quartet comprising Team Dolphin (Brentjens/Van Hout) and The Bulls (Platt/Sahm) eventually caught and passed Leuchs and Bult and charged relentlessly on to the finish, The Bulls trying to regain the race lead and Team Dolphin in search of a pride-salvaging stage win. With 3km remaining, Brentjens attacked hard and Van Hout was able to join him in the move that gave them the advantage they needed to secure the stage win.

Changes in the top 10 saw Cannondale Vredestein 1 slip to second and Team Bulls reclaim the No.1 spot. Team Dolphin moved up from fourth to third with the Multivan Merida 1 pair of Ralf Naf and Jose Hermida, winners of Stage 4, slipping down a position to fourth. And the all-German Stevens team of Johannes Sickmeuller and Rene Birkenfeld continued their good form with a seventh place on the stage that moved them into seventh on GC, pushing the Raleigh MTN Energade 1 team down one notch to eighth.

It was business as usual for Anke Erlank and Yolande de Villiers (Duravit) and Yolande Speedy and Paul Cordes (IMC Mongoose) who won their fifth consecutive stages in the Women’s and Mixed categories respectively, while 55-year-old Linus van Onselen and partner Doug Brown (Absa Masters) outsprinted Cycle Lab’s Andrew McLean and Damian Booth to claim their first stage win in the Master’s division.

Stage 6, a 111km haul from Montagu to Villiersdorp, holds 1565m of climbing in store for the participants, virtually all of it coming in the second half. Expect a thriller as Paulissen and Fuglsang attempt to reclaim the race lead!

2007 Absa Cape Epic
Stage 5, 102km from Barrydale to Montagu
Leading results:
Men: 1 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 03hrs41min32sec; 2 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 03:41:46; 3 Cannondale Vredestein 2 – Kashi Leuchs (NZL) / Axel Bult (NED) 03:42:11; 4 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 03:46:07; 5 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 03:46:31; 6 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 03:48:31; 7 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 03:49:01; 8 Adidas William Simpson 1 – Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) 04:01:27; 9 Texner BMC Acqiris – Jonas Vuille (SUI) / Vullioud Phillipe (SUI) 04:01:29; 10 Adidas William Simpson 2 – Max Knox (RSA) / Oliver Munnik (RSA) 04:01:35; 11 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 04:01:39; 12 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 04:01:39.

Masters: 1 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 04:14:44; 2 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 04:14:44; 3 Marsillio Projects – Lieb Loots (RSA) / Tony Conlon (RSA) 04:17:26.

Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 04:24:25; 2 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 4:27:38; ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) 04:32:57.
 
Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 04:19:49; 2 Texner BMC Thoemus – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 04:50:33; 3 Adidas Fiat Rotwild – Kerstin Brachtendorft (GER) / Daniele Troesch (FRA) 05:03:10.


General Classification after Stage 5
Men: 1 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 21hrs:52min:34sec; 2 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 21:53:55; 3 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 22:31:24; 4 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 22:40:27; 5 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 22:42:42; 6 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 22:53:17; 7 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 23:09:34; 8 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 23:13:15; 9 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 23:24:42; 10 Adidas William Simpson 1 – Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) 23:43:55.

Masters: 1 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 25:00:46; 2 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 25:21:29; 3 Red Mongoose – M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) 25:48:31.

Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 25:40:07; 2 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 26:11:16; 3 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) 26:35:26.

Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 26:31:51; 2 Texner BMC Thoemus – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 29:25:14; 3 Adidas Fiat Rotwild – Kerstin Brachtendorft (GER) / Daniele Troesch (FRA) 29:34:50.


 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 rider Kevin Evans (pictured) and teammate Brandon Stewart finished outside the top 10 for the first time on Stage 5, but were still able to retain their Absa African team leader’s red jerseys.



THURSDAY 29 MARCH 2007


CANNONDALE VREDESTEIN FIGHT BACK TO CLAIM YELLOW

The thrilling battle for the coveted 2007 Absa Cape Epic title continued on Thursday when the Cannondale Vredestein 1 team of Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang bounced back from two tough-luck days to win Stage 6 and reclaim the overall lead.

But the Team Bulls duo of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, who led the race by 1min21sec going into Thursday’s 111km haul from Montagu to Villiersdorp, put up a brave fight that saw them give everything they had – and quite possibly everything they didn’t have – to cross the finish in second, promptly collapsing from the effort.

Paulissen and Fuglsang, who lost their substantial seven-minute-plus lead following a series of punctures on Stages 4 and 5, raced problem-free on Thursday to finish in a time of three hours 46 minutes 34 seconds. They were 1min32sec quicker than Plat and Sahm, giving the Cannondale Vredestein 1 team the race lead by a narrow 11 seconds with two stages remaining.

But the early part of the stage belonged to the local South African teams of Raleigh MTN Energade 1 (Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart), Raleigh MTN Energade 2 (Mannie Heymans and Melt Swanepoel), Adidas William Simpson 1 (Shan Wilson and Jacques Rossouw) and Exel Specialized (Jaco Venter and Jacques Janse van Rensburg) who went on the attack shortly after the start.

Stewart suffered multiple punctures, dropping him and Evans out of the lead pack, which built up a three-and-a-half minute lead over the main chase bunch by the base of the first big climb at 65km. But behind them the yellow-jersey conflict had already been bristling and most of the early break was caught of the slopes of the brutal 6km ascent, half of which was impossible for anyone to ride up.

Going over the summit of the climb in a small lead group were Paulissen/Fuglsang, Platt/Sahm, Wilson/Rossouw and 2006 winner Silvio Bundi and his partner Gion Manetsch (Giant Athleticum). But that’s when all-out war broke out as Paulissen and Fuglsang attacked the race leaders, splintering the group in the process. They gained a lead that reached 65 seconds and on the final big climb that started at 97km, Platt and Sahm had closed the gap down to 55 seconds.

Then on a particularly rocky section, the Cannondale Vredestein 1 riders activated the rear shocks on their Scalpels and quickly began to extend their lead, gaining 30 seconds on Team Bulls by the summit at 102km. They then descended the final nine kilometres to the finish as if they had stolen the bikes they were riding and extended their lead a little more over their German rivals who were frantically trying to retain their yellow jerseys, but ultimately failed.

Bundi and Manetsch managed to secure their first podium place of the 2007 event when they finished third in 03:51:07 with Stage 5 winners Bart Brentjens and Rudi van Houts (Team Dolphin) fourth less than two minutes later.

Wilson and Rossouw were the first South African team home in fifth place. Heymans and Swanepoel finished seventh and Evans and Stewart were ninth, easily retaining their lead in the Absa African team competition. And Adidas William Simpson 2’s Oliver Munnik and Max Knox rounded out the top 10.

“We had to try something today,” said Heymans, who inspired the early break when he rode clear at 15km. “There is a fast 25km stretch of tar before halfway and I wanted to get a few teams away with us early on so that we could pace together on the tar section. It worked well but we didn’t have a big enough gap when we reached the first big climb,” added the 2004 Cape Epic winner.

Stewart and Evans did will to finish in the top 10 on a day when Stewart struggled with three punctures. He eventually ran out of CO2 bombs and rode the final three kilometres on a flat tyre.

In the other categories, Andrew McLean and Damian Booth (Cycle Lab) won their third stage in the Master’s division and the Duravit duo of Anke Erlank and Yolande de Villiers retained their unbeaten record with a sixth successive stage victory in the Women’s race. The Maloja BTS team of Ivonne Kraft and Nico Pfitzenmaier claimed their first stage win in the Mixed division, upsetting the perfect record of the IMC Mongoose team of Paul Cordes and Yolande Speedy.

Friday’s Stage 7 sees the riders tackle a 116km leg from Villiersdorp to a beach finish at Kleinmond. With 1990 metres of climbing, the stage is certain to be decisive. Expect world champion Ralf Naf and his Multivan Merida 1 teammate Jose Hermida to be in rampant mood after a series of punctures saw them drop from fourth to ninth in the General Classification on Thursday.

2007 Absa Cape Epic
Stage 6, 111km from Montagu to Villiersdorp
Leading results:
Men: 1 5 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 03:46:34; 2 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 03:48:06; 3 Giant Athleticum – Silvio Bundi (SUI) / Gion Manetsch (SUI) 03:51:07; 4 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 3:52:55; 5 Adidas William Simpson 1 – Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) 03:53:11; 6 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 03:53:43; 7 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 03:54:47; 8 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 03:56:37; 9 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 03:54:45; 10 Adidas William Simpson 2 – Max Knox (RSA) / Oliver Munnik (RSA) 04:01:04.

Masters: 1 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 04:16:08; 2 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 04:18:06; 3 Marsillio Projects – Lieb Loots (RSA) / Tony Conlon (RSA) 04:19:18.

Mixed: 1 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 4:24:23; 2 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 04:29:11; 3 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (CAN) 04:30:44.
 
Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 04:21:33; 2 Texner BMC Thoemus – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 04:47:48; 3 Adidas Fiat Rotwild – Kerstin Brachtendorft (GER) / Daniele Troesch (FRA) 05:05:43.


General Classification after Stage 6
Men: 1 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 25:4029; 2 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 25:40:40; 3 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 26:24:20; 4 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 26:45:52; 5 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 26:47:00; 6 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 27:06:11; 7 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 27:13:00; 8 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 27:19:29; 9 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 27:23:48;10 Adidas William Simpson 1 – Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) 27:37:06.

Masters: 1 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 29:16:55; 2 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 29:39:36; 3 Red Mongoose – M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) 30:08:45.

Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 30:09:19; 2 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 30:35:39; 3 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) 31:06:10.

Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 30:53:24; 2 Texner BMC Thoemus – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 34:13:02; 3 Adidas Fiat Rotwild – Kerstin Brachtendorft (GER) / Daniele Troesch (FRA) 34:40:34.

For more results and race information, visit www.cape-epic.com


Raleigh MTN Energade 1 rider Brandon Stewart pushes his bike up an unrideable section of the first major climb during Stage 6 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.

Raleigh MTN Energade 2 rider Melt Swanepoel catches his breath after he and his partner Mannie Heymans finished seventh on Stage 6 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.

The Raleigh MTN Energade 2 pair of Mannie Heymans (front) and Melt Swanepoel start the early breakaway move on Stage 6 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.



FRIDAY 30 MARCH 2007


DAY OF DRAMA AS BULLS CHARGE BACK INTO YELLOW

By Sean Badenhorst

The seesaw struggle for dominance in the 2007 Absa Cape Epic continued on Friday in a drama-filled Stage 7 that saw the German Team Bulls pairing of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm reclaim the race lead, which they lost on Thursday.

The 116km stage from Villiersdorp to Kleinmond belonged to the Dutch Dolphins team of Bart Brentjens and Rudi van Houts, who attacked early on and, despite being joined for a while by Team Bulls and Cannondale Vredestein 1, went on to claim their second stage of the event in four hours and 49 seconds, sealing their third place in the General Classification.

But it was the top two GC teams that provided the drama on Friday. With just a slim 11-second lead over Team Bulls at the start, Cannondale Vredestein 1’s Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang were edgy and attacked at 27km, just as the main field were about to reach the base of the first major climb. Platt and Sahm immediately responded but found themselves in an awful fix just minutes later when Sahm’s left pedal broke!

David George, the new South African teammate of Christoph Sauser (Specialized) stopped and gave his pedal to Sahm. The Bulls lost almost five minutes with the pedal problem but chased hard in pursuit of Cannondale Vredestein 1, who were riding with Cannondale Vredestein 2 rider, Kashi Leuchs, who had left his teammate behind to help his stable mates defend their race lead.

The three Cannondale Vredestein riders caught Brentjens and Van Houts but then had their own brush with bad luck when first Leuchs and then Paulissen punctured. The delay gave Team Bulls some hope and their efforts paid off when they first caught the Cannondale Vredestein 1 duo (Leuchs never rejoined) and then all four riders reeled in Brentjens and Van Hout to create a six-man lead pack.

But seven days of flat-out racing finally took its toll on Fuglsang, whose 23-year-old body began to falter in the final stages. The Team Bulls riders noticed he was beginning to flag and attacked on a gradual rise 25km from the finish. Team Dolphin were able to join them and the quartet set a quick pace along the mildly undulating terrain to the finish at the coast.

In yet another twist to the suspense-filled stage, Platt punctured with three kilometres remaining, which allowed Brentjens and Van Houts enough advantage to claim the stage win unchallenged. Platt’s puncture wasn’t too serious and self-repaired with the puncture-mending slime inside the tyre. He just had to make a short stop to add some air and the pair were able to secure second place in 04:02:14. It was their sixth successive runner-up place in this year’s event, but it was good enough to give them a 3min44second advantage over Paulissen and Fuglsang (and Leuchs!) who were third in 04:05:58.

“You can’t believe camaraderie among the mountain bikers,” said George. “Christoph and I weren’t the only ones that stopped to help Team Bulls. World champion Ralf Naf and Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida 1) also stopped to help. We were all trying to find a quick solution because it’s not often you break a pedal. It’s not exactly something you carry as a spare! Because they have the same size feet, Hermida was about to lend his shoes and pedals to Sahm but I decided it was quickest to just give him my pedal.”

George rode some 30km with one pedal before he got a new one at the Shimano Neutral Technical Service Zone. He and Sauser aren’t able to qualify for stage or GC classification because they aren’t riding with their original partners. The partners of both riders withdrew due to illness after Stage 3, leaving Sauser and George to pair up in order to just complete the event. George is a former world time trial champs bronze medallist and took the silver medal in the road race at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

The Raleigh MTN Energade 1 team of Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart were the first South African team home, finishing in sixth place and retaining their lead in the Absa African team competition. Mannie Heymans and Melt Swanepoel of Raleigh MTN Energade 2 were eighth with the 10th-placed Adidas William Simpson 1 pair of Shan Wilson and Jacques Rossouw giving the host country three teams in the top 10.

“I’m battling with a chest cold so we lost a bit of time at the end of the stage,” said Stewart. “We were actually lying fifth until 10 kays to go when I my body just shut down and the Stevens guys came past us. But we kept it steady and managed to increase our lead in the African team competition.”

In the other categories, Cycle Lab’s Andrew McLean and Damian Booth increased their lead in the Masters division with their fourth stage win, while the Duravit pair of Anke Erlank and Yolande de Villiers maintained their perfect record in the Women’s race with a seventh successive stage victory. Paul Cordes and Yolande Speedy (IMC Mongoose) retained their lead in the Mixed category but were beaten into second place on the stage by the German Maloja BTS duo of Ivonne Kraft and Nico Pfitzenmaier.

The final stage on Saturday is a relatively short 75km leg from Kleinmond to Lourensford Wine Estate. But there is a reasonable amount of climbing (1285 metres) which will no doubt see Paulissen and Fuglsang – assuming the latter has recovered – mounting a last-gasp challenge for the overall title.


2007 Absa Cape Epic
Stage 7, 116km from Villiersdorp to Kleinmond
Leading results:
Men: 1 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 04hrs00min49sec; 2 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 04:02:14; 3 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 04:05:58; 4 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 04:10:33; 5 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 04:12:12; 6 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 04:14:00; 7 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 04:15:40; 8 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 04:17:40; 9 Texner BMC Acquiris – Jonas Vuille (SUI) / Vullioud Phillipe (SUI) 04:20:59; 10 Adidas William Simpson 1 – Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) 04:24:03.

Masters: 1 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 04:39:11; 2 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 04:42:15; 3 Red Mongoose – M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) 04:51:55.

Mixed: 1 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 04:48:30; 2 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 04:54:33; 3 CMT – Virginie Souchon (FRA) / Julien Sauvigne 05:03:03.
 
Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 04:55:35; 2 CUBE WLS – Kristine Noergaard (DEN) / Anna-Sofie Noergaard 05:29:22; 3 Texner BMC Thoemus – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 05:31:56.


General Classification after Stage 7
Men: 1 2 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 29hrs42min54sec; 2 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 29:46:28; 3 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 30:25:09; 4 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 30:56:25; 5 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 31:02:40; 6 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 31:18:24; 7 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 31:27:00; 8 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 31:37:10; 9 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 32:00:17; 10 Adidas William Simpson 1 – Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) 32:01:10.

Masters: 1 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 33:56:06; 2 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 34:21:52; 3 Red Mongoose – M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) 35:00:41.

Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 35:03:52; 2 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 35:24:10; 3 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (CAN) 36:18:35.

Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 35:49:00; 2 Texner BMC Thoemus – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 39:44:59; 3 CUBE WLS – Kristine Noergaard (DEN) / Anna-Sofie Noergaard 40:47:48.

For more results and race information, visit www.cape-epic.com

Raleigh MTN Energade 1 rider, Brandon Stewart, waits pensively for the start of Stage 7 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.

Raleigh MTN Energade 2 rider, Mannie Heymans, on his way to eighth place on Stage 7 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.

 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 rider, Melt Swanepoel, climbs the lower slopes of Groenlandberg during Stage 7 of the  2007 Absa Cape Epic.


SATURDAY 31 MARCH 2007


TEAM BULLS TAKE HOME THE 2007 TITLE

The Swiss Team Texner Stoeckli pairing of Thomas Zahnd and Sandro Spaeth saved their best effort for last when they won the final stage of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic on Saturday. But it was the Team Bulls duo of Germans Karl Platt an Stefan Sahm that were wearing the broadest grins as they finished the stage in third but claimed the coveted overall title of the world’s biggest mountain bike stage race.

The relatively short 75km haul from Kleinmond to Lourensford Wine Estate was the final chapter in the eight-day, 886km race that attracted most of the world’s top male mountain bike stars and subsequently provided the most exciting racing in its four-year history.

With a 3min24sec lead going into Saturday’s stage, Team Bulls were widely expected to find the stage somewhat processionary as their advantage was substantial and unlikely to be challenged. But their main rivals, second-placed Cannondale Vredestein 1’s Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang wouldn’t let their German adversaries rest until afterwards, attacking early on in a final optimistic bid for overall honours.

The fast early pace did however split the field up substantially and, suitably unimpressed with the audacious series of attacks by their arch-rivals, Team Bulls counter attacked, partially to prove they weren’t going to be bullied into submission – or second place – but mostly to show that they deserved to be riding to the finish of the final stage in yellow.

But entering the final 15km there were just three teams at head of the field (Team Bulls, Cannondale Vredestein 1 and Texner Stoeckli) and it was here that Paulissen and Fuglsang reluctantly, silently admitted defeat, saving themselves instead to try and grab the stage win. But after seven days of consistent top-10 finishes, Zand and Spaeth were hungry for share of the limelight and proved the quickest in the small group gallop for the line, clocking three hours, 24 minutes and 51 seconds. Cannondale Vredestein 1 were second and Team Bulls, easing up in the few hundred metres to enjoy the cheering crowd, a distant third.

Platt, 29, became the first rider to win a second Absa Cape Epic title. He and Namibian Mannie Heymans won the inaugural race in 2004. Platt is also a four-time winner of the Transalp, Europe’s biggest mountain bike stage race, and in 2004 also won the Trans Rockies, the tough North American tour. This was Sahm’s first Cape Epic and the victory is easily the highlight in the 30-year-old German’s professional career.

The first local team home on Saturday was the Raleigh MTN Energade 2 pair of Mannie Heymans and Melt Swanepoel. They were four minutes faster than their stable mates, Raleigh MTN Energade 1’s Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart who were 11th. Weakened by a chest cold, Stewart wasn’t his strongest on Saturday, but he and Evans were able to retain their lead in the Absa African team competition and finish seventh overall. Heymans and Swanepoel ended eighth overall with the Adidas William Simpson 1 duo of Shan Wilson and Jacques Rossouw ensuring there were three local teams in the final top 10.

Former professional road cyclists, Andrew McLean and Damian Booth (Cycle Lab), riding their first Cape Epic, claimed a relatively comfortable victory in the Masters category, beating the more seasoned mountain biking pair of Linus van Onselen and Doug Brown (Absa Masters) to the Over-40 age-group title by 27 minutes. The teams finished 15th and 16th overall respectively.

South Africans Yolande Speedy and Paul Cordes (IMC Mongoose) were consistently the strongest in the Mixed division throughout the event. Their German rivals, Ivonne Kraft and Nico Pfitzenmaier (Majola BTS), who won Saturday’s final stage, were runners-up more than 16 minutes back.

And in the Women’s race, the lack of depth in the small field was evident when Duravit’s Anke Erlank and Yolande de Villiers claimed all eight stage wins and the overall title with relative ease. But their world-class pedigree was in no doubt as they finished up an impressive 27th overall.

2007 Absa Cape Epic
Stage 8, 75km from Kleinmond to Lourensford Wine Estate
Leading results:
Men: 1 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 03hrs24min51sec; 2 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 03:24:55;  3 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 03:25:05; 4 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 03:25:35; 5 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 03:26:36; 6 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 03:32:09; 7 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 03:32:20; 8 Giant Athleticum – Silvio Bundi (SUI) / Gion Manetsch (SUI) 03:35:15; 9 Absa Africa – David Kinjah Njau (KEN) / Davidson Kamau Kihagi (KEN) 03:36:15; 10 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 03:36:24; 11 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 03:36:38.

Masters: 1 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 03:52:20; 2 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 03:52:27; 3 Team Checkers – Andre Viljoen (RSA) / Guy Pike (RSA) 03:56:06.

Mixed: 1 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 03:59:33; 2 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 04:02:14; 3 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (CAN) 04:08:40.
 
Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 04:06:52; 2 Adidas Fiat Rotwild Kerstin Brachtendorf (GER) / Daniele Troesch (GER) 04:31:00; 3 Texner BMC Thoemus – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 04:31:46.

Final General Classification
Men: 1 Team Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) 33hrs08min00sec;  2 Cannondale Vredestein 1 – Roel Paulissen (BEL) / Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) 33:11:24;  3 Team Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) / Rudi van Houts (NED) 33:51:45;  4 Trek Volkswagen – Alban Lakata (AUT) / Peter Roman (SUI) 34:22:01; 5 Texner-Stoeckli – Thomas Zahnd (SUI) / Sandro Spaeth (SUI) 34:27:32; 6 Stevens – Johannes Sickmeuller (GER) / Rene Birkenfeld (GER) 34:54:48; 7 Raleigh MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) 35:03:38; 8 Raleigh MTN Energade 2 – Mannie Heymans (NAM) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 35:09:30; 9 Multivan Merida 1 – Ralf Naf (SUI) / Jose Hermida (ESP) 35:32:26; 10 Adidas William Simpson 1 – Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) 35:50:23.

Masters: 1 Cycle Lab – Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) 37:48:34; 2 ABSA Masters – Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) 38:14:13; 3 Red Mongoose – M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) 39:08:51.

Mixed: 1 IMC Mongoose – Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) 39:06:06; 2 Maloja BTS – Ivonne Kraft (GER) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 39:23:43; 3 ABSA Pro Mixed – Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (CAN) 40:27:16.

Women: 1 Duravit – Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) 39:55:53; 2 Texner BMC Thoemus – Myriam Saugy (SUI) / Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) 44:16:45; 3 Adidas Fiat Rotwild Kerstin Brachtendorf (GER) / Daniele Troesch (GER) 44:45:06

For full results and race information, visit www.cape-epic.com


Raleigh MTN Energade 2’s Mannie Heymans (right) and Melt Swanepoel finished seventh on Saturday’s final stage and eight overall in the 2007 Absa Cape Epic


An ill Raleigh MTN Energade 1’s Brandon Stewart (left) shows the strain as he and teammate Kevin Evans cross the finish in 11th place on Saturday’s final stage of the 2007 Cape Epic. The pair finished the event seventh overall and won the inaugural Absa African team competition.

Raleigh MTN Energade 1 rider, Brandon Stewart, relaxes after he and teammate Kevin Evans finished seventh overall at the 2007 Absa Cape Epic.