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NEWSFLASH: PROLOGUE OF 2008 ABSA CAPE EPIC PRESENTED BY ADIDAS

Prologue
Start/Finish: Pezula Private Estate
Distance: 17km
Climbing: 301m

In 2008, riders have the honour of competing in the very first prologue in the Absa Cape Epic’s history. The 17km circuit starts and finishes at Pezula Private Estate, taking riders into the Knysna forest and Kruisfontein to compete for their seeding for the start of stage 1. The route is on fast forestry roads, with plenty of opportunity to pass slower riders.

RESULTS:

MEN’S CATEGORY:

  1. MTN Energade 1 – Kevin Evans (RSA) & David George (RSA) – 31.04 minutes
  2. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 32:01 minutes
  3. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 32:21 minutes

WOMEN’S CATEGORY:

  1. Trek/VW WSD – Susan Haywood (USA) & Jennifer Smith(NZL) – 42.51 minutes
  2. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sunstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 43.29 minutes
  3. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 43:42 minutes

MASTERS CATEGORY:

  1. adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA) – 36:24 minutes
  2. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 37:15 minutes
  3. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE) – 38:30 minutes

MIXED CATEGORY:

  1. Joybike guided by VMT and Maloja – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 40:15 minutes
  2. Cyclelab Toyota – Johan Labuschagne (RSA) & Yolande de Villers (RSA) – 40:25 minutes
  3. NOVATEC – CK MTB DOHNAY – Tomas Legnavsky (SVK) & Janka Stevkova (SVK) – 41:37 minutes  

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director

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29 MARCH 2008
NEWSFLASH: STAGE 1 OF 2008 ABSA CAPE EPIC PRESENTED BY ADIDAS
Stage 1

Start/Finish: Knysna – George (Saasveld Campus Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University)
Distance: 123 km
Climbing: 3091m


Once again a traditional start had riders leave the beautiful coastal town of Knysna, up Simola Pass, a 3km climb with a 7% gradient. Riders then had to turn into lush, indigenous forests. This route was as beautiful as it was demanding, with sharp climbs, slippery corners and heart-in-the-stomach descents through Homtini, Jubilee Creek nature reserve, and a technical descent through Katara forest. Riders then got onto stretches of the 7 passes route, with some deviations on more rugged terrain, before they reached the first race village on the beautiful Saasveld Campus. Day 2 of the Absa Cape Epic saw another stage win for a South African with young Burry Stander claiming the yellow leader jersey stepping up to the pace of his partner Christoph Sauser, one of the world’s most prolific mountain bike riders of all times (Songo.Info).

STAGE 1 RESULTS:

MEN:

1. Songo.Info – Christoph Sauser (SUI) & Burry Stander (RSA) – 4:39:35
2. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 4:40:06
3. Etto Hoydahl (3) - Martin Bratland (NOR) & Kristian Torgersen (NOR) – 4:44:21
4. Etto Hoydahl (1) – Jo Nordskar (NOR) & Anders Hovdenes (NOR) – 4:44:43
5. Alb-Gold Mountainbike – Hannes Genze (GER) & Jochen Kaess (GER) – 4:45:38
6. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 4:49:15
7. Full-Dynamix Rsm – Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) & Massimo Debertolis (ITA) – 4:51:59
8. Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) & Alban Lakata (AUT)– 4:55:54
9. Etto Hoydahl (2) – Rune Hoydahl (NOR) & Ola Kjoren (NOR) – 5:01:44
10. MTN Energade (2) – Mannie Heymans (NAM) & Melt Swanepoel (RSA) – 5:03:49

LADIES:

1. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 5:44:07
2. Dolphin-Trek MTB Racing – Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) & Katrin Schwing (GER) – 5:54:20
3. Trek/VW WSD – Susan Haywood (USA) & Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 6:03:55
4. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 6:09:24
5. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) – 6:10:02

MASTERS:

1. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 5:06:29
2. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA) – 5:08:07
3. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRL) – 5:34:08
4. Gpsupload.Com – Douw Andrews (USA) & Rich Bartlett (USA) – 5:52:56
5. Oracla – Claudio Pellegrini (ITA) & Orazio Casaccio (ITA) – 5:56:35

MIXED:

1. Joybike Guided by VMT and Maloja – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 5:46:30
2. X.O Felt Swiss – Adrian Burri (SUI) & Franziska Roethlin (SUI) – 5:54:10
3. Novatec – CK MTB Dohnany – Janka Stevkova (SVK) & Tomas Legnavsky (SVK) – 5:56:50
4. Absa Mixed – Kobus Barnard (RSA) & Fienie Barnard (RSA) – 5:57:20
5. Cyclelab Toyota – Johan Labuschagne (RSA) & Yolandé de Villiers (RSA) – 6:03:20

OVERALL RESULTS:

MEN:


1. Songo.Info – Christoph Sauser (SUI) & Burry Stander (RSA) – 5:12:05
2. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 5:12:28
3. Etto Hoydahl (3) - Martin Bratland (NOR) & Kristian Torgersen (NOR) – 5:18:18
4. Etto Hoydahl (1) – Jo Nordskar (NOR) & Anders Hovdenes (NOR) – 5:19:09
5. Alb-Gold Mountainbike – Hannes Genze (GER) & Jochen Kaess (GER) – 5:19:22
6. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 5:21:17
7. Full-Dynamix Rsm – Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) & Massimo Debertolis (ITA) – 5:25:46
8. Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) & Alban Lakata (AUT)– 5:28:41
9. Etto Hoydahl (2) – Rune Hoydahl (NOR) & Ola Kjoren (NOR) – 5:36:34
10. MTN Energade (2) – Mannie Heymans (NAM) & Melt Swanepoel (RSA) – 5:37:41

LADIES:

1. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 6:27:37
2. Dolphin-Trek MTB Racing – Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) & Katrin Schwing (GER) – 6:39:05
3. Trek/VW WSD – Susan Haywood (USA) & Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 6:46:46
4. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 6:53:06
5. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) – 6:55:52

MASTERS:

1. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 5:43:44
2. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA) – 5:44:31
3. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRL) – 6:12:38
4. Gpsupload.Com – Douw Andrews (USA) & Rich Bartlett (USA) – 6:32:59
5. Oracla – Claudio Pellegrini (ITA) & Orazio Casaccio (ITA) – 6:37:01

MIXED:

1. Joybike Guided by VMT and Maloja – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 6:26:45
2. X.O Felt Swiss – Adrian Burri (SUI) & Franziska Roethlin (SUI) – 6:36:43
3. Novatec – CK MTB Dohnany – Janka Stevkova (SVK) & Tomas Legnavsky (SVK) – 6:38:27
4. Absa Mixed – Kobus Barnard (RSA) & Fienie Barnard (RSA) – 6:39:59
5. Cyclelab Toyota – Johan Labuschagne (RSA) & Yolandé de Villiers (RSA) – 6:43:45

 

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director


30 MARCH 2008

NEWSFLASH


TOUGHEST STAGE IN ABSA CAPE EPIC HISTORY SEES CANNONDALE VREDESTEIN RISE TO THE CHALLENGE WITH TWO VICTORY WINS

SOUTH AFRICA/SWITZERLAND TEAM SONGO.INFO STILL IN LEAD AFTER STAGE 2 OF GRUELLING ABSA CAPE EPIC


Arguably the toughest stage ever in the history of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas saw the Cannondale Vredestein team - Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – rise to the occasion and prove their endurance by winning both the time bonus competition, and the stage challenge of the day.
With an overall time advantage (after winning Stage 1), the Songo.Info team of Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Burry Stander (RSA) is still in the lead to wear the yellow leader jersey for Stage 3 today [Monday, 31 March 2008]. Songo.Info crossed the finish line second, approximately five minutes after the stage winners.
For Stage 2, Absa Cape Epic riders travelled from George to Calitzdorp, a 137 km journey with 2 518m of climbing. The route took riders through a very hot Karoo (39˚C) and up the toughest climbs. The first challenge of the day was Montagu Pass, with dirt roads winding 9km up an 8% average gradient through the spectacular mountains and valleys. After some loose, rolling tracks through Chandelier Game Reserve came the Gamkaberg killer – Breakback Mountain. The climb reached 1 100m in altitude with the steepest gradients at 18%. It was a technical climb and riders lost some traction with loose rocks in the path. The high-stakes descent with sharp rocks and hairpin bends made it scarier than the uphill. The last 15km to the Calitzdorp Spa was flat and fast, but still gruelling as temperatures soared and wind conditions made it worse.


MEN’S CATEGORY

Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) of team Cannondale Vredestein, crossed the finish line of Stage 2 first at an impressive time of 5:07:11. They were followed by Stage 1 winners Songo.Info, Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Burry Stander (RSA) at 5:12:44. In third place was the German Alb-Gold Mountainbike team, Hannes Genze and Jochen Kaess (5:14:43), who beat South Africans MTN Energade (1), Kevin Evans and David George (5:14:46) by three seconds in a sprint finish.

For the first time in any major mountain bike stage race, time bonus points were awarded today in the King of the Mountain competition at the top of the first major climb of the day (Montague Pass), 25 km into the race. The Cannondale Vredestein team of Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang managed to gain a 40 second time bonus, thanks to their win of the challenge. They were followed by the Songo.Info team, Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander, who managed to secure a 20 second time bonus. In third place with a 10 second time bonus was MTN Energade (1) - Kevin Evans and David George.

The overall leaders are still Songo.Info at 10:24:49, no doubt feeling the pressure from Cannondale Vredestein who is only 4 minutes behind at 10:27:48. Third overall is Alb-Gold Mountainbike (10:34:05), with Bulls (10:43:29) and Dolphin (10:51:17) in the fourth and fifth places respectively.

Paulissen said that after Stage 1, where they placed sixth, they wanted to prove to themselves that it was an exception. “We decided early on in the race to just go for it and take the risk, and therefore raced hard from the beginning. The first three days of any stage race is always difficult for me as I’m more used to two hour races, compared to the five hours of the Absa Cape Epic every day - but then I get stronger as we complete stage after stage.”

Commenting on his racing partner Fuglsang, he said that he was extremely proud of him. “Jakob was leading our team for 70 to 80 kilometres of the race. He is just such a talent – I love to watch him. Not many young riders have his mental strength out there – he’s a great fighter.”
Kaess (Alb-Gold Mountainbike) said that their advantage during Stage 2 was that they did not push the envelope too much during the previous stage. “Many riders are over-enthusiastic and push too hard from the word go, and we noticed how some had to pay for it during this gruelling stage.”

MTN Energade, the team that walked away with the yellow leader jersey after the prologue, managed to make an impressive comeback during Stage 2. Kevin Evans commented that after he got ill on the road the day before, and lost a lot of fluids as a result, he recovered fully when the medical team of the Absa Cape Epic gave him 2 litres of fluids intravenously. “By this time, the bug that was in my system must’ve been out due to my mild hydration. For stage 2 we were back in top form.”

STAGE 2 RESULTS:

MEN:

1. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 5:07:11
2. Songo.Info – Christoph Sauser (SUI) & Burry Stander (RSA) – 5:12:44
3. Alb-Gold Mountainbike – Hannes Genze (GER) & Jochen Kaess (GER) – 5:14:43
4. MTN Energade – Kevin Evans (RSA) & David George (RSA) – 5:14:46
5. Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) & Alban Lakata (AUT) – 5:22:36

LADIES:

1. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 6:05:53
2. Trek/Vw Wsd – Susan Haywood (USA) & Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 6:16:46
3. Dolphin-Trek Mtb Racing – Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) & Katrin Schwing (GER) – 6:24:54
4. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 06:35:15
5. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) - 06:47:11

MASTERS:

1. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 5:45:50
2. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA) – 5:58:19
3. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE) – 6:06:53
4. Gpsupload.Com – Doug Andrews (USA) & Rich Bartlett (USA) – 6:14:44
5. Private Client Holdings – Andrew Johan Cillie (RSA) & Leon Olivier (RSA) – 6:24:41

MIXED:

1. Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 6:08:03
2. Cyclelab Toyota – Yolande de Villiers (RSA) & Johan Labuschagne (RSA) – 6:24:41
3. Adidas – Fourie Kotze (RSA) & Amy Mundy (RSA) – 6:31:10
4. Novatec – Ck Mtb Dohnany – Tomas Legnavsky (SVK) & Janka Stevkova (SVK) – 6:37:49
5. X.O Felt Swiss – Adrian Burri (SUI) & Franziska Roethlin (SUI) – 6:44:52

OVERALL RESULTS:

MEN:

1. Songo.Info – Christoph Sauser (SUI) & Burry Stander (RSA) –10:24:49
2. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 10:27:48
3. Alb-Gold Mountainbike – Hannes Genze (GER) & Jochen Kaess (GER) – 10:34:05
4. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 10:43:29
5. Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) & Alban Lakata (AUT) – 10:51:17
6. Full-Dynamix Rsm – Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) & Massimo Debertolis (ITA) – 10:52:56
7. MTN Energade (1) – Kevin Evans (RSA) & David George (RSA) – 10:53:15
8. Etto Hoydahl (3) – Martin Bratland (NOR) & Kristian Torgersen (NOR) – 11:01:28
9. MTN Energade (2) – Mannie Heymans (NAM) & Melt Swanepoel (RSA) – 11:06:46
10. Usn – Brandon Stewart (RSA) & Max Knox (RSA) – 11:21:47

LADIES:

1. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 12:33:30
2. Trek/Vw Wsd – Susan Haywood (USA) & Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 13:03:32
3. Dolphin-Trek Mtb Racing – Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) & Katrin Schwing (GER) – 13:03:58
4. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 13:28:21
5. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) - 13:43:03

MASTERS:

1. Absa Masters – Douw Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 11:28:34
2. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA) – 11:42:50
3. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE) – 12:19:33
4. Gsupload.Com – Andrew Doug (USA) & Rich Bartlett (USA) – 12:47:43
5. Private Client Holdings – Johan Andrew Cillie (RSA) & Leon Olivier – 13:11:36

MIXED:

1. Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 12:34:48
2. Cyclelab Toyota – Yolande de Villiers (RSA) & Johan Labuschagne (RSA) – 13:08:26
3. Adidas – Fourie Kotze (RSA) & Amy Munday (RSA) – 13:28:03
4. Novatec – Ck Mtb Dohnany – Tomas Legnavsky (SVK) & Janka Stevkova (SVK) – 13:16:16
5. X.O Felt Swiss – Adrian Burri (SUI) & Franziska Roethlin (SUI) – 13:21:35


Visit www.cape-epic.com to view the full results.
 

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director


Dear Mountain Bike Enthusiast,

Young South African mountain biker, Burry Stander, proved he could compete with the best by finishing first with teammate Christoph Sauser in the first stage of the world renowned Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas. With only a 30 second gap between the first and second place winners, this year’s event promises to be exciting to the last finish.

For Stage 1 of the Absa Cape Epic, the 1 200 riders had to make the journey of 123km from Knysna to George, with the South African MTN Energade team Kevin Evans and David George leading the way after their prologue win on Friday (which also took place in Knysna)The first leg of the 8-stage race challenged the aspiring amateurs and pro riders from around the world with a total climb of 3 091m.

Similar to previous years, the first stage was one of the toughest with a route profile that included a 3km first climb with a 7% gradient at Simola Pass. Riders then had to make a turn into the lush, indigenous forests providing some of the most exquisite scenery the Garden Route has to offer. This particular route was characterised by an abundance of sharp climbs, slippery corners and heart-in-the-stomach descents to test endurance early on in the race. The final challenge awaited riders after the Knysna River, Duiwelse Tande (the seventh pass of the day), before they completed Stage 1 at the Saasveld Campus of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in George.
 

Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander take the lead

The Songo.Info team of Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Burry Stander (RSA) was the first to cross the finish line of Stage 1 at a time of 4:39:35. They are also the overall leaders of the race following Friday’s prologue (overall time 5:12:05).

20-year-old Stander from South Africa says that he found the first part of the race particularly difficult. “I suffered during the first 50kms and actually started to get worried, but with 50kms to go, my legs finally came back and I could help Christoph to win this part of the race.”

Sauser said that he was incredibly impressed with his young South African partner. “We are thrilled that we were able to take the jersey for Stage 1. We were also particularly surprised that the other top teams couldn’t keep up.”

The Bulls team of Germans Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm came in second at a time of 4:40:06, which also secured them the second place overall (5:12:28).

Sahm fell ill the night before and did not feel in peak form during this stage. “Karl had to do all the work today as I just felt miserable. He was pushing hard and I struggled, but I’m thrilled to have such a great teammate.”

Platt waited for his riding partner to catch up during certain parts of the stage, as they are a team. “I am proud of Stefan as we still managed to complete the race 30 seconds after Songo.Info,” he says.

Teams Etto Hoydahl 3 and Etto Hoydahl 1 ensured some surprises when they came in third and fourth respectively (4:44:21 and 4:44:43), followed by Alb-Gold Mountainbike (4:45:36). They benefited from the tough battle of the top teams as they were continuously going at their own pace, unaffected of what was going on in front of them. In the end they passed all the top contenders on the way to the finish.

After a very strong start, the yellow jersey leaders from the prologue (MTN Energade team Kevin Evans and David George) had to deal with difficulties when Evans fell sick after the second water point and lost a lot of fluids as a result. They managed to complete the race and Evans was then put on a drip for mild hydration. Evans had to be supported by George for the last 30 km of the route, who pulled him by his jersey in order to complete Stage 1.
 

Some days you are the hammer, and some days you are the nail

The first ladies to complete Stage 1 at a time of 5:44:07 were Pia Sundstedt (FIN) and Alison Sydor (CAN), known as team Rocky Mountain. Their overall lead time in the category was 6:27:37. They were followed by Dolphin-Trek MTB racing (Fienne Heinzmann from Switzerland and Katrin Schwing from Germany) at 5:54:20, overall 6:39:04. The leading ladies after the prologue, Susan Haywood (USA) and Jennifer Smith (USA) of Trek/VW WSD, came in third (6:03:55, 6:46:46 overall).

Sundstedt says that it was the worst day ever on her bike as she suffered physically. “It’s a good thing as it can’t possibly get worse for me during the next couple of days.” Sydor commented that she felt great during the race. “Some days you are the hammer, and some days you are the nail. The only thing that matters, however, is that we crossed the finish line together and we did it as efficiently as possible. The Absa Cape Epic is not about individuals or ego, it’s all about the team. And what we saw today across the route was just that – teams working together.”
 

Bee attack can’t keep Mixed leaders from defending their jersey

Joybike Guided by VMT and Maloja walked away with the leader jersey in the Mixed category (Germans Ivonne Kraft and Nico Pfitzenmaier) at a time of 5:46:30 and an overall lead at 6:26:45. With their first Absa Cape Epic challenge, X.O Felt Swiss managed to surprise when they came in second at 5:54:10 (overall 6:36:43), followed by Novatec – Ck Mtb Dohnany at 5:56:50 (6:38:27 overall).

Pfitzenmaier says that he expects to greet other riders for Stage 2 with a swollen face after being stung by a bee. “I’m allergic, and unfortunately noticed too late when a black cloud came towards me. By the time I tried to take my head down, the swarm of bees were already all over me and in my helmet. I got stung on my chin. The rest of the race was tough as I had dizzy spells, coupled by the fact that I’ve had a bit of a cold for the last week. I therefore didn’t want to push too hard, but I’m thrilled that we managed to win the Mixed category today.”

Kraft added that she enjoyed an “awesome route” as it contained everything that a mountain bike enthusiast could hope for. “I started to cramp after the first 60kms as we lost one of our bottles of water and ran out. We had to go 10km before we got to the next waterpoint, but at least all ended well.”
 

Rolling hills test multiple Transalp Champion

The Masters Category saw Absa Masters (Brown Doug from South Africa and Barti Bucher from Switzerland) complete Stage 1 at 5:06:29, with an overall Masters lead time of 5:43:45. They were followed by Shan Wilson (RSA) and Walter Platzgummer (ITA), known as Adidas William Simpson, who ended their stage race at 5:08:07 (overall time 5:44:31). Third were Pragma Masters M.C. Franken (RSA) and Peter Buggle (IRL), at 5:34:08 (overall time of 06:12:38).

Platzgummer, who is used to European Mountain Bike challenges, agreed that the Absa Cape Epic is really tough. “It’s very different to European races; it’s not as steep, but has more challenging terrain with rocks, mud and rolling hills – not to mention the heat. It’s great for young guys who regenerate well, but for us in the Masters category it is tough. At one stage we had a 3 to 4 minute lead, but the Absa Masters were riding in a group while we were riding on our own, so they caught up with us at 90km and we were too tired to stay with them. But there are seven more days to go, so we’ll make sure we win at least one of the others.”
 

Absa Cape Epic sets platform for promising young athletes

Before the top riders from around the world crossed the finish line in Saasveld it served as a track for some youngsters from local schools who competed in a one kilometer run. The aspiring athletes represented their schools, with the winners set to compete against other young champions from the other communities through which the race passes on the final day of the 2008 Absa Cape Epic. A daily run and a daily bicycle race will be taking place as an initiative of the Big Tree Foundation, the official Absa Cape Epic charity, and JAG as well as the event’s presenting sponsor adidas. South Africa’s well-known athlete Elana Meyer was there to award the stage prizes to the top three runners.
 

Riders health and well-being in good hands

Only minor injuries were reported for the first stage of the Absa Cape Epic. All riders are monitored throughout the race by a 20 strong team of docters, nursing staff, medical administrators and paramedical staff. Three roving medics on route ensure immediate assistance in case of any injuries or physical discomfort, with the event’s very own medical facilities available at both, the start and the finish of each stage. Medical software specifically developped for Absa Cape Epic medical staff, enables Race Doctor Basil Bonner and his team to follow every step of the patient’s first medical contact right through to his or her full recovery at a glance. “The Absa Cape Epic is a logistical challenge, also in terms of medical faciliites as we are not in an urban area,” says Basil Bonner. “With our new Bluespier Patient Manager we have all medical data instantly availabe, no matter where the patient is currently being treated. Colour codes alert us to the urgency of the treatment required and we can allocate the patient to different groups, for instance the saddle sore clinic or the strapping clinic for cut and abrasion injuries. At the end of the day, we can print a report summarizing all medical statistics of the stage.” The use of the specially designed system is a first at any international sporting event.
 

Hardest stage in the history of the race lies ahead

For Stage 2 tomorrow Absa Cape Epic riders will travel from George to Calitzdorp, a 137km journey with a 2 518m climb. Arguably the hardest stage ever in the history of the Absa Cape Epic, the route will go through the hot Karoo and up the toughest climbs – riders who struggled today, will dread Stage 2. The first real challenge of the day is Montagu Pass, with dirt roads winding 9km up an 8% average gradient through the spectacular mountains and valleys. After some loose, rolling tracks through Chandelier Game Reserve comes the Gamkaberg killer – Breakback Mountain. The climb reaches 1 100m in altitude with the steepest gradients at 18%. It’s a technical climb and riders will lose traction with loose rocks in the path. The high-stakes descent with sharp rocks and hairpin bends make it scarier than the uphill. The last 15km to the Calitzdorp Spa is flat and fast.

 

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director


Dear Mountain Bike Enthusiast,

Arguably the toughest stage ever in the history of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas saw the Cannondale Vredestein team - Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – rise to the occasion and prove their endurance by winning both the time bonus competition, and the stage challenge of the day.

With an overall time advantage (after winning Stage 1), the Songo.Info team of Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Burry Stander (RSA) is still in the lead to wear the yellow leader jersey for Stage 3. Songo.Info crossed the finish line second, approximately five minutes after the stage winners.

For Stage 2, Absa Cape Epic riders travelled from George to Calitzdorp, a 137 km journey with 2 518m of climbing. The route took riders through a very hot Karoo (39˚C) and up the toughest climbs. The first challenge of the day was Montagu Pass, with dirt roads winding 9km up an 8% average gradient through the spectacular mountains and valleys. After some loose, rolling tracks through Chandelier Game Reserve came the Gamkaberg killer – Breakback Mountain. The climb reached 1 100m in altitude with the steepest gradients at 18%. It was a technical climb and riders lost some traction with loose rocks in the path. The high-stakes descent with sharp rocks and hairpin bends made it scarier than the uphill. The last 15km to the Calitzdorp Spa was flat and fast, but still gruelling as temperatures soared and wind conditions made it worse.
 

Cannondale Vredestein gain time bonus and win stage

Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) of team Cannondale Vredestein, crossed the finish line of Stage 2 first at an impressive time of 5:07:11. They were followed by Stage 1 winners Songo.Info, Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Burry Stander (RSA) at 5:12:44. In third place was the German Alb-Gold Mountainbike team, Hannes Genze and Jochen Kaess (5:14:43), who beat South Africans MTN Energade (1), Kevin Evans and David George (5:14:46) by three seconds in a sprint finish.

For the first time in any major mountain bike stage race, time bonus points were awarded today in the King of the Mountain competition at the top of the first major climb of the day (Montague Pass), 25 km into the race. The Cannondale Vredestein team of Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang managed to gain a 40 second time bonus, thanks to their win of the challenge. They were followed by the Songo.Info team, Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander, who managed to secure a 20 second time bonus. In third place with a 10 second time bonus was MTN Energade (1) - Kevin Evans and David George.
The overall leaders are still Songo.Info at 10:24:49, no doubt feeling the pressure from Cannondale Vredestein who is only 4 minutes behind at 10:27:48. Third overall is Alb-Gold Mountainbike (10:34:05), with Bulls (10:43:29) and Dolphin (10:51:17) in the fourth and fifth places respectively.

Paulissen said that after Stage 1, where they placed sixth, they wanted to prove to themselves that it was an exception. “We decided early on in the race to just go for it and take the risk, and therefore raced hard from the beginning. The first three days of any stage race is always difficult for me as I’m more used to two hour races, compared to the five hours of the Absa Cape Epic every day - but then I get stronger as we complete stage after stage.” Commenting on his racing partner Fuglsang, he said that he was extremely proud of him. “Jakob was leading our team for 70 to 80 kilometres of the race. He is just such a talent – I love to watch him. Not many young riders have his mental strength out there – he’s a great fighter.”

Kaess (Alb-Gold Mountainbike) said that their advantage during Stage 2 was that they did not push the envelope too much during the previous stage. “Many riders are over-enthusiastic and push too hard from the word go, and we noticed how some had to pay for it during this gruelling stage.”

MTN Energade, the team that walked away with the yellow leader jersey after the prologue, managed to make an impressive comeback during Stage 2. Kevin Evans commented that after he got ill on the road the day before, and lost a lot of fluids as a result, he recovered fully when the medical team of the Absa Cape Epic gave him 2 litres of fluids intravenously. “By this time, the bug that was in my system must’ve been out due to my mild hydration. For stage 2 we were back in top form.”
 

Alison Sydor and Pia Sundstedt expand their lead

For the second stage in a row, the Rocky Mountain ladies team crossed the finish line first – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) and Alison Sydor (CAN) - at a time of 6:05:53, which ones again secured them the leader jersey with an overall time of 12:33:30. Susan Haywood (USA) and Jennifer Smith (NZL), known as the Trek/VW Wsd team, were second across the finish line at a time of 6:16:46, with an overall time only 30 seconds ahead of Dolphin-Trek Mtb Racing who came in third at 06:24:54 (overall times 13:03:32 and 13:03:58).The Dolphin-Trek Mtb team of Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) and Katrin Schwing (GER) was second during the previous race, so the ladies category will also ensure a lot of excitement during the next couple of days.

Smith and Haywood both agreed that the pace during Stage 2 was very high, even for the ladies. Comments Smith: “After the second waterpoint, the pace suddenly slowed down and we were wondering why. Afterwards we realised that some people knew about the climb ahead and they were reserving their energy for the challenge ahead. We asked one of the riders how long the climb was and he said a couple of kilometres. We thought he was joking...little did we know it was 10km long!”

Haywood said that they had a good ride together as they initially needed to find each other’s strengths and weaknesses during Stage 1, but that they now believe that the collaboration between them is ideal. “We ran out of water towards the end and we were convinced that we were just going to die out there and no one would ever find us. Fortunately, a spectator made his appearance and told us we were very close to the finish line. We were so relieved and thrilled when it was all over.”

Heinzmann in turn had a scare early on in the race when another participant rode into her, resulting in a knee injury. “My knee was very stiff after that and for the first couple of strokes I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to go on. Fortunately, as time passed, we closed the gap between us and the group.”

But more hardship awaited Heinzmann when she later on rode into barbed wire, which not only damaged her tyre, but also her wheel and spikes. “Yet again, we lost time while we had to fix the problem and the group was gone again. It was truly scary and tough to ride 50km on our own in the wind after everyone was gone!”

Schwing in turn was still suffering from a cold, but gained her strength during the final climb and for the first time took the lead in the team. Once again they managed to close the gap between them and the other ladies teams. “But towards the end we were really tired and had to concentrate going downhill. We didn’t want to risk a fall and took is easy – so we lost the group again and crossed the finish line on our own.”

The South African team of Hanlie Booyens and Erica Green (Absa Ladies) in 4th place today disagreed on some technical issues before the race after Booyens insisted that Green rides with a camel back and two water bottles containing almost 5 litres of water. “Thank goodness we did, as we used all of it,” Green said. “We enjoyed a very solid ride, but we are still waiting for a day when these international monsters can give us a chance to win a stage. We know we are racing against the best in the world, but all we want is to be the best ladies team from South Africa.”
 

The lady with the iron will

Another repeat win in the Mixed category awaited Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja when Germans Ivonne Kraft and Nico Pfitzenmaier completed their stage race at 6:08:03, followed by South Africans Yolande de Villiers and Johan Labuschagne (Cyclelab Toyota) in second place at 6:24:41. Hot on their heels were fellow South Africans Fourie Kotze and Amy Mundy (adidas) at 6:31:10. Overall results revealed the same order as the stage win: Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja in first (12:34:48), Cyclelab Toyota in second (13:03:26) and adidas in third position (13:38:02)

Yolande De Villiers said that after her six punctures during Stage 1 the day before, Stage 2 left her with legs punctures at the Gamkaberg killer challenge. “But the real problem was that I couldn’t feel my left arm and shoulder, which was completely numb. I tore two ligaments during the Argus Cycle Tour, but I was still determined to ride the Absa Cape Epic. But when my arm went numb, it felt like I had no control over my bike – it was very scary, especially during the technical downhill.”

Labuschagne commented that all he has to do during the race is keep up with his teammate. “Yolande is so fast and a very tough lady. It is my job to protect her from the wind and make sure she doesn’t get in trouble. I was worried today when I noticed that Yolande had no control over her bike. I urged her to drive slowly and carefully at times and that I would be there for her.”

From foe to friend

Absa Masters, Doug Brown (RSA) and Barti Bucher (SUI), once again defended their leader jersey with yet another stage win which ended in Calitzdorp (5:45:50). Shan Wilson from South Africa and Walter Platzgummer from Italy (Adidas William Simpson) came in second at 5:58:19, followed by Pragma Masters M.C. Franken (RSA) and Peter Buggle (IRE) at 6:06:53. Overall, the teams remained in the same positions as the stage win results with respective overall times of 11:29:34, 11:42:50 and 12:19:32.

Brown expressed his admiration of Platzgummer when he said that he has such a good reputation that every single stage will be a battle between them. “We can never be confident that we’ve beaten them no matter what. I also know Shan Wilson well as we’ve ridden Transalp together; I know his capabilities.”

Wilson got a puncture early on in the race, which provided the Absa Masters with an opportunity to pull away and take the lead. 3km later Brown got a puncture, but fortunately he fixed it before the Adidas William Simpson team could catch up with them. Both teams agreed that Breakback Mountain was one of the toughest climbs ever for any race. “We had to fight with every peddle stroke,” Wilson said. “But we stayed calm and kept our wits about us.” Brown and Wilson met each other at last year’s Transalp Challenge where they were riding in competing teams. “On one stage Barti broke his pedal on an uphill and kept on going as if nothing has happened. That’s when I decided he would be my perfect partner for the Absa Cape Epic. I asked him after the race and his immediate response was yes!” To top it off, Doug Brown and Barti Bucher share the same birthdate and year. “Age is not an excuse for our team,” Doug chuckled.

Cheering crowd awaits last rider in

The last to cross the finish line today before the 18h00 cut-off time was Dion Tredoux from Team Millenium – PW-R, who arrived alone without his riding partner Brenda-Lynn Robertson. “My partner was not feeling well at waterpoint 3 before the big climb and she was suffering. We still had four hours to go so I encouraged her to keep going to see how far we could get. Eventually, I told her I would meet her at the top, but after a long wait I made the journey down where I waited again. Then I realised that I had to continue with the race as I was running out of time.”

Tredoux, who’s riding partner urged him to enter with her, said he felt he wasn’t ready for the Absa Cape Epic yet as he is more experienced as a road rider. “But after she secured some sponsors who paid for our entry, we started to train together in June last year.”

He says that after he passed the final waterpoint with another 35km to go, a very lonely journey awaited him until he got to the finish line. “But once I got there, I was overwhelmed by the support, encouragement and applause. Now that I managed to finish in time, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry...”

Baggage team set their own records

It’s not only a tough job to ride the Absa Cape Epic, but behind the scenes over 700 staff and crew work night and day to stage the biggest full service stage race in the world. One of the integral teams servicing the riders, ensuring that their luggage arrive safely at the new destination and is sorted by number in time before their arrival, is the baggage crew - alias “the baggies”. Throughout the week they lift a total weight of 416 tons of more than 1000 rider bags (averaging 26kg each) by loading and unloading the baggage truck. Their all time record in loading the truck and sorting the bags in numerical order is an unbelievable 20 minutes! The fourteen strong team of University Professor Tiaan Pool comprises sport management, tourism and marketing students. The level of efficiency at what this team operates at is a reflection of their high degree of education. Before departing from the previous stage, they pack the truck in rough numerical order. Upon arrival they lay out the tent floor with ropes to structure the numerical off-loading of the bags.

“Good music keeps our guys going and to warm up early in the mornings we have an exercise class,” says Tool. “We believe that we must make the life of our clients, the ‘riders’, as easy as possible. I always tell my students that we must never argue with the riders – they are tired and emotional and might say things they normally wouldn’t. And if riders said something they regretted later, they always came back to apologise.”

The bag team works hand in hand with local porters from the various communities who take the bags after the riders have checked them out, and carry them to the riders’ tents for the exhausted mountain bikers.
 

Next stop: Riversdale

Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic will take riders from Calitzdorp to Riversdale, with a distance of 133km and climbing of 2 340m. The teams are taken up a 13 km steady drag on smooth dirt roads over Rooiberg Pass. It’s a long climb that steepens to 9% before a 70kph decent into the valley. After some sharp, rolling hills, riders cross game country, where antelope, giraffe, leopard, and caracal will watch the riders charge through. From there on the terrain will be tough. Maximum concentration is needed to preserve bike and body. The rock formations are as geologically fascinating as they are race threatening (if riders choose a bad line or make a bad tyre choice). Even after riders survived the punctures and the heat, there is still a long slog on dirt roads before Garcia Pass. They’ll welcome the tarred, gentle climb and fast descent that takes them into Riversdale, for a hard-earned rest.

Visit www.cape-epic.com for more details and to see where the riders are online during the race.

Watch the Absa Cape Epic highlights daily on Supersport2 at 22h30.
 

 

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director

--- 

31 MARCH 2008

NEWSFLASH


CANNONDALE VREDESTEIN TAKES OVERALL LEAD IN GRUELLING ABSA CAPE EPIC

SOUTH ARICAN / SWISS STAGE 2 OVERALL LEADERS IN ABSA CAPE EPIC (SONGO.INFO) DROP OUT DURING STAGE 3

Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas provided thrilling surprises and excitement, with overall leaders Songo.Info dropping out of the race, and the first three teams crossing the finish line within seconds of each other.

The Cannondale Vredestein team – Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) -repeated their stage win when they were the first to cross the finish line for Stage 3, at a time of 4:16:02. This was only 1 second ahead of the South African team of MTN Energade (Kevin Evans and David George) at 4:16:03. Five seconds later the German Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm crossed the finish line, at 4:16:07, ensuring an exciting sprint for spectators and enthusiasts waiting at the finish line in the town of Riversdale.

Although Karl Platt (Bulls) was the first to cross the finish line, the rules of the Absa Cape Epic stipulate that both riders from a team need to cross the finish line before the official time is allocated, with Sahm’s 4:16:07 used as the stage result. He was still struggling from gastric problems, which no doubt caused a loss of energy and took its toll.

The South African/Swiss team of Songo.Info, the overall leaders after stage 2, dropped out of the race during Stage 3. Burry Stander (RSA) suffered from a knee injury and had to withdraw at waterpoint 2, which also meant the end of the road for his teammate, World and European marathon mountain bike champion Christoph Sauser (SUI).

Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic saw riders complete their stage journey from Calitzdorp to Riversdale, with a distance of 133km and climbing of 2 340m. The teams were taken up a 13 km steady drag on smooth dirt roads over Rooiberg Pass. It was a long climb that steepened to 9% before a 70kph decent into the valley. After some sharp, rolling hills, riders crossed game country, where antelope, giraffe, leopard, and caracal watched the riders charge through. From there on the terrain was tough. Maximum concentration was needed to preserve bike and body. The rock formations were as geologically fascinating as they were race threatening (should riders have chosen a bad line or made a bad tyre choice). Even after riders survived the punctures and the heat, there was still a long slog on dirt roads before Garcia Pass. They welcomed the tarred, gentle climb and fast descent that took them into Riversdale, for a hard-earned rest.

Fuglsang says that despite the stage win, which also gave them the overall lead for the yellow jersey, he was not feeling good during this stage of the Absa Cape Epic. “I especially struggled with the technical climbs and loose rocks, but fortunately Roel felt strong. The stage was partially very flat, but quite hard as it was very bumpy at times and I don’t particulalry like that.”

His riding partner Paulissen says that he is now feeling much better after struggling for the first part of the event, saying that he can see how he gets stronger by the day.

David George says that they were eager to win this stage, but “with only a second between us and Cannondale Vredestein, I don’t think we did too badly.” The MTN Energade team says they managed to ride with the leading teams throughout the race, which gave them a boost of confidence as “we could see the potential we have when we’re feeling well”.

Evans says that if they didn’t have a bad day during stage 1 (where Evans fell ill), they would still be competing for the leaders’ jersey, but that it falls into the “could have, what if” category.

Commenting on fellow South African rider Burry Stander’s injury and subsequent withdrawal from the race, George says that he is an extremely talented guy and has the ability to push himself over and above, and that it clearly took its toll. “When you are young and inexperienced this sometimes happens. But he has a big future ahead of him and he mustn’t be too disappointed.”

For most of the stage race, the South African team Usn with Brandon Stewart and Max Knox, who came fourth, took the lead. On top of Rooibergpass they were already leading by 45 seconds, a gap that built up to 6 minutes later in the race. The leading teams in the overall ranking didn’t feel threatenened as they were no danger to them and allowed the Usn team to shine. At Garcia Pass, Bulls and MTN Energade sped up and pushed harder as they were eager to win the stage and catch up on their overall ranking. Usn was eventually caught on the top of Garcia Pass when the top three teams took the lead for the remainder of the race.

The German Alb-Gold Mountainbike team (who crossed the finish line in fifth position) encountered their first flat tyre 50 metres into the race, riding over a thorn. By the time they fixed it, 300 amateur riders had passed them. It took them 20 minutes to get back to the leading bunch. 60km into the race, Hannes Genze started to experience a loss of energy and had to let the other leading teams go, which left them between 30 to 60 seconds behind for most of the time. Approximately15 to 20 km before to the last waterpoint, they caught up with the Dolphin team and worked together to close the gap between them and the leading bunch. “We realised at one point that we couldn’t catch up, so we just rode at our own pace to keep our energy for the next stage - and rode to the finish with team Dolphin,” Genze says.

For Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic (Riversdale to Swellendam), the rolling hills through the farmlands will give the power riders a chance to ply their trade. Then come the big ones – heartbreak one and heartbreak two, the second of which is 4.5km long with a 7% gradient. After two days in the Karoo, riders pass through dairy country before heading into Grootvadersbosch, another Cape Nature jewel, and back into some lush forests again – a welcome shelter from the harsh sun. But there are more challenges to come – more climbing, technical descents and river crossings, passable only by foot, or on a mountain bike. A short tar section passes the historical mission village of Suurbraak – a town that is no stranger to the Absa Cape Epic. At the weir crossing it’s only 12km home. Riders will however have to watch out for the short forest climbs that steepen up to 15% - it will take longer than expected to get into Swellendam.

Visit www.cape-epic.com for more details and to see where the riders are online during the race.

STAGE 3 RESULTS:

MEN:
1. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 4:16:02
2. MTN Energade – Kevin Evans (RSA) & David George (RSA) – 4:16:03
3. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 4:16:08
4. Usn – Brandon Stewart (RSA) & Max Knox (RSA) – 4:16:54
5. Alb-Gold Mountainbike – Hannes Genze (GER) & Joschen Kaess (GER) – 4:19:58

LADIES:
1. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 4:58:00
2. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 5:16:49
3. Dolphin-Trek Mtb Racing – Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) & Katrin Schwing (GER) – 5:25:13
4. Trek/VW Wsd – Susan Haywood (USA) and Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 5:26:07
5. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) – 5:29:31

MASTERS:
1. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 4:46:10
2. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE) – 4:47:22
3. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Plutzgummer (ITA) – 4:50:52
4. Masilio Projects – Tony Conlon (RSA) - & Lieb Lotos (RSA) – 5:09:00
5. Chamizo-Sportful – Franky Taelman (BRA ) & Danny Flies (BRA) – 5:13:02

MIXED:
1. Cyclelab Toyota – Johan Labuschagne (RSA) & Yolande de Villiers (RSA) – 4:58:09
2. Absa Mixed – Kobus Barnard (RSA) & Fienie Barnard (RSA) – 5:13:07
3. Adidas – Fourie Kotze (RSA) & Amy Mundy (RSA) – 5:14:31
4. Joybike Guided by Vmt and Malo – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 5:20:24
5. X.O Felt Swiss – Adrian Burri (SUI) & Franziska Roethlin (SUI) – 5:27:29

OVERALL RESULTS:

MEN:
1. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 14:43:50
2. Alb-Gold Mountainbike – Hannes Genze (GER) & Joschen Kaess (GER) – 14:54:03
3. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 14:59:37
4. MTN Energade (1) – Kevin Evans (RSA) & David George (RSA) – 15:09:18
5. Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) & Alban Lakata (AUT) – 15:11:15
6. Full Dynamix Rsm – Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) & Massimo Debertolis (ITA) – 15:15:18
7. MTN Energade (2) – Mannie Heymans (NAM) & Melt Swanepoel (RSA) – 15:32:30
8. Usn – Brandon Stewart (RSA) & Max Knott (RSA) – 15:38:32
9. Etto Hoydahl (2) – Rune Hoydahl (NOR) & Ola Kjoren (NOR) – 16:02:32
10. Trek / VW – Jeremiah Bishop (USA) & Chris Eatough (USA) – 16:17:34

LADIES:
1. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 17:31:30
2. Dolphin-Trek Mtb Racing – Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) & Katrin Schwing (GER) – 18:29:11
3. Trek/VW Wsd – Susan Haywood (USA) and Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 18:29:39
4. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 18:45:10
5. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) – 19:12:34

MASTERS:
1. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 16:15:44
2. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Plutzgummer (ITA) – 16:33:42
3. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE) – 17:06:54
4. Gpsupload.Com – Doug Andrews (USA) & Rich Bartlett (USA) – 18:11:49
5. Private Client Holdings – Andrew Johan Cillie (RSA) & Leon Olivier (RSA) – 18:24:43

MIXED:
1. Joybike Guided by Vmt and Malo – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 17:55:12
2. Cyclelab Toyota – Johan Labuschagne (RSA) & Yolande de Villiers (RSA) – 18:06:35
3. Absa Mixed – Kobus Barnard (RSA) & Fienie Barnard (RSA) – 18:42:23
4. Adidas – Fourie Kotze (RSA) & Amy Mundy (RSA) – 18:42:33
5. Novatec – Ck Mtb Donhnany – Tomas Legnavsky (SVK) & Janka Stevkova (SVK) – 18:48:48




Visit www.cape-epic.com to view the full results.
 

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director


31 MARCH 2008

NEWSFLASH


CANNONDALE VREDESTEIN TAKES OVERALL LEAD IN GRUELLING ABSA CAPE EPIC

SOUTH ARICAN / SWISS STAGE 2 OVERALL LEADERS IN ABSA CAPE EPIC (SONGO.INFO) DROP OUT DURING STAGE 3

Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas provided thrilling surprises and excitement, with overall leaders Songo.Info dropping out of the race, and the first three teams crossing the finish line within seconds of each other.

The Cannondale Vredestein team – Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) -repeated their stage win when they were the first to cross the finish line for Stage 3, at a time of 4:16:02. This was only 1 second ahead of the South African team of MTN Energade (Kevin Evans and David George) at 4:16:03. Five seconds later the German Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm crossed the finish line, at 4:16:07, ensuring an exciting sprint for spectators and enthusiasts waiting at the finish line in the town of Riversdale.

Although Karl Platt (Bulls) was the first to cross the finish line, the rules of the Absa Cape Epic stipulate that both riders from a team need to cross the finish line before the official time is allocated, with Sahm’s 4:16:07 used as the stage result. He was still struggling from gastric problems, which no doubt caused a loss of energy and took its toll.

The South African/Swiss team of Songo.Info, the overall leaders after stage 2, dropped out of the race during Stage 3. Burry Stander (RSA) suffered from a knee injury and had to withdraw at waterpoint 2, which also meant the end of the road for his teammate, World and European marathon mountain bike champion Christoph Sauser (SUI).

Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic saw riders complete their stage journey from Calitzdorp to Riversdale, with a distance of 133km and climbing of 2 340m. The teams were taken up a 13 km steady drag on smooth dirt roads over Rooiberg Pass. It was a long climb that steepened to 9% before a 70kph decent into the valley. After some sharp, rolling hills, riders crossed game country, where antelope, giraffe, leopard, and caracal watched the riders charge through. From there on the terrain was tough. Maximum concentration was needed to preserve bike and body. The rock formations were as geologically fascinating as they were race threatening (should riders have chosen a bad line or made a bad tyre choice). Even after riders survived the punctures and the heat, there was still a long slog on dirt roads before Garcia Pass. They welcomed the tarred, gentle climb and fast descent that took them into Riversdale, for a hard-earned rest.

Fuglsang says that despite the stage win, which also gave them the overall lead for the yellow jersey, he was not feeling good during this stage of the Absa Cape Epic. “I especially struggled with the technical climbs and loose rocks, but fortunately Roel felt strong. The stage was partially very flat, but quite hard as it was very bumpy at times and I don’t particulalry like that.”

His riding partner Paulissen says that he is now feeling much better after struggling for the first part of the event, saying that he can see how he gets stronger by the day.

David George says that they were eager to win this stage, but “with only a second between us and Cannondale Vredestein, I don’t think we did too badly.” The MTN Energade team says they managed to ride with the leading teams throughout the race, which gave them a boost of confidence as “we could see the potential we have when we’re feeling well”.

Evans says that if they didn’t have a bad day during stage 1 (where Evans fell ill), they would still be competing for the leaders’ jersey, but that it falls into the “could have, what if” category.

Commenting on fellow South African rider Burry Stander’s injury and subsequent withdrawal from the race, George says that he is an extremely talented guy and has the ability to push himself over and above, and that it clearly took its toll. “When you are young and inexperienced this sometimes happens. But he has a big future ahead of him and he mustn’t be too disappointed.”

For most of the stage race, the South African team Usn with Brandon Stewart and Max Knox, who came fourth, took the lead. On top of Rooibergpass they were already leading by 45 seconds, a gap that built up to 6 minutes later in the race. The leading teams in the overall ranking didn’t feel threatenened as they were no danger to them and allowed the Usn team to shine. At Garcia Pass, Bulls and MTN Energade sped up and pushed harder as they were eager to win the stage and catch up on their overall ranking. Usn was eventually caught on the top of Garcia Pass when the top three teams took the lead for the remainder of the race.

The German Alb-Gold Mountainbike team (who crossed the finish line in fifth position) encountered their first flat tyre 50 metres into the race, riding over a thorn. By the time they fixed it, 300 amateur riders had passed them. It took them 20 minutes to get back to the leading bunch. 60km into the race, Hannes Genze started to experience a loss of energy and had to let the other leading teams go, which left them between 30 to 60 seconds behind for most of the time. Approximately15 to 20 km before to the last waterpoint, they caught up with the Dolphin team and worked together to close the gap between them and the leading bunch. “We realised at one point that we couldn’t catch up, so we just rode at our own pace to keep our energy for the next stage - and rode to the finish with team Dolphin,” Genze says.

For Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic (Riversdale to Swellendam), the rolling hills through the farmlands will give the power riders a chance to ply their trade. Then come the big ones – heartbreak one and heartbreak two, the second of which is 4.5km long with a 7% gradient. After two days in the Karoo, riders pass through dairy country before heading into Grootvadersbosch, another Cape Nature jewel, and back into some lush forests again – a welcome shelter from the harsh sun. But there are more challenges to come – more climbing, technical descents and river crossings, passable only by foot, or on a mountain bike. A short tar section passes the historical mission village of Suurbraak – a town that is no stranger to the Absa Cape Epic. At the weir crossing it’s only 12km home. Riders will however have to watch out for the short forest climbs that steepen up to 15% - it will take longer than expected to get into Swellendam.

Visit www.cape-epic.com for more details and to see where the riders are online during the race.

STAGE 3 RESULTS:

MEN:
1. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 4:16:02
2. MTN Energade – Kevin Evans (RSA) & David George (RSA) – 4:16:03
3. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 4:16:08
4. Usn – Brandon Stewart (RSA) & Max Knox (RSA) – 4:16:54
5. Alb-Gold Mountainbike – Hannes Genze (GER) & Joschen Kaess (GER) – 4:19:58

LADIES:
1. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 4:58:00
2. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 5:16:49
3. Dolphin-Trek Mtb Racing – Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) & Katrin Schwing (GER) – 5:25:13
4. Trek/VW Wsd – Susan Haywood (USA) and Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 5:26:07
5. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) – 5:29:31

MASTERS:
1. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 4:46:10
2. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE) – 4:47:22
3. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Plutzgummer (ITA) – 4:50:52
4. Masilio Projects – Tony Conlon (RSA) - & Lieb Lotos (RSA) – 5:09:00
5. Chamizo-Sportful – Franky Taelman (BRA ) & Danny Flies (BRA) – 5:13:02

MIXED:
1. Cyclelab Toyota – Johan Labuschagne (RSA) & Yolande de Villiers (RSA) – 4:58:09
2. Absa Mixed – Kobus Barnard (RSA) & Fienie Barnard (RSA) – 5:13:07
3. Adidas – Fourie Kotze (RSA) & Amy Mundy (RSA) – 5:14:31
4. Joybike Guided by Vmt and Malo – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 5:20:24
5. X.O Felt Swiss – Adrian Burri (SUI) & Franziska Roethlin (SUI) – 5:27:29

OVERALL RESULTS:

MEN:
1. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 14:43:50
2. Alb-Gold Mountainbike – Hannes Genze (GER) & Joschen Kaess (GER) – 14:54:03
3. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 14:59:37
4. MTN Energade (1) – Kevin Evans (RSA) & David George (RSA) – 15:09:18
5. Dolphin – Bart Brentjens (NED) & Alban Lakata (AUT) – 15:11:15
6. Full Dynamix Rsm – Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) & Massimo Debertolis (ITA) – 15:15:18
7. MTN Energade (2) – Mannie Heymans (NAM) & Melt Swanepoel (RSA) – 15:32:30
8. Usn – Brandon Stewart (RSA) & Max Knott (RSA) – 15:38:32
9. Etto Hoydahl (2) – Rune Hoydahl (NOR) & Ola Kjoren (NOR) – 16:02:32
10. Trek / VW – Jeremiah Bishop (USA) & Chris Eatough (USA) – 16:17:34

LADIES:
1. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 17:31:30
2. Dolphin-Trek Mtb Racing – Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) & Katrin Schwing (GER) – 18:29:11
3. Trek/VW Wsd – Susan Haywood (USA) and Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 18:29:39
4. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 18:45:10
5. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) – 19:12:34

MASTERS:
1. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 16:15:44
2. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Plutzgummer (ITA) – 16:33:42
3. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE) – 17:06:54
4. Gpsupload.Com – Doug Andrews (USA) & Rich Bartlett (USA) – 18:11:49
5. Private Client Holdings – Andrew Johan Cillie (RSA) & Leon Olivier (RSA) – 18:24:43

MIXED:
1. Joybike Guided by Vmt and Malo – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 17:55:12
2. Cyclelab Toyota – Johan Labuschagne (RSA) & Yolande de Villiers (RSA) – 18:06:35
3. Absa Mixed – Kobus Barnard (RSA) & Fienie Barnard (RSA) – 18:42:23
4. Adidas – Fourie Kotze (RSA) & Amy Mundy (RSA) – 18:42:33
5. Novatec – Ck Mtb Donhnany – Tomas Legnavsky (SVK) & Janka Stevkova (SVK) – 18:48:48




Visit www.cape-epic.com to view the full results.
 

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director


Dear Mountain Bike Enthusiast,

Bart Brentjens (NED) and Alban Lakata (AUT) of team Dolphin-Trek attacked today during Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas, when they broke away from the other pro-riders and crossed the finish line first in Swellendam at a time of 4:28:38. It was the first stage win for the team during this year’s Absa Cape Epic.

Although leading at times by up to 3 minutes, MTN Energade’s Kevin Evans (RSA) and David George (RSA) managed to catch up together with Cannondale Vredestein and secured the second place in the stage race less than 30 seconds behind Dolphin-Trek (4:29:00). Third was the yellow jersey leaders Cannondale Vredestein, Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), who finished only a second later at 4:29:01.

Another tough stage

For Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic (Riversdale to Swellendam), the rolling hills through the farmlands provided the power riders with a chance to ply their trade. Then came the big ones – heartbreak one and heartbreak two, the second of which was 4.5km long with a 7% gradient. After two days in the Karoo, riders passed through dairy country before heading into Grootvadersbosch, another Cape Nature jewel, and back into some lush forests again – a welcome shelter from the harsh sun, or so thought. In actual fact, the forest was hot and humid and did not provide the expected shelter. There were more challenges to come – more climbing, technical descents and river crossings, which were passable only by foot, or on a mountain bike. A short tar section passed the historical mission village of Suurbraak – a town that is no stranger to the Absa Cape Epic. At the weir crossing, it was “only” 12km home, which must have felt like 25km. Riders had to watch out for the mean, technical forest climbs that steepened up to 15%. It took longer than they expected to get into Swellendam.

Dolphin-Trek attack

The Dolphin-Trek team attacked 25km into the race, 100 meters from the top at the first serious climb (heartbreak one), so that they could go downhill at full blast. This immediately gave them a 45 seconds lead, which quickly turned into minutes. Brentjens says that he was enjoying a good day, but Lakata lost his water bottle on one of the bumpy roads, and after the first 50km he suffered from dehydration and was exhausted. This resulted in Brentjens, who had a lot more energy, holding back to ride at Lakata’s pace.

Commenting on their stage win, Brentjens says that it wasn’t necessarily a planned attack, but more a spontaneous decision. “We of course discuss every evening what we should do the next day, but you actually have to wait and see how you feel during the first couple of kilometres and whether your legs are strong enough. The pace of this year’s Absa Cape Epic is very fast and attacking takes a lot of energy – not only to create the gap, but to maintain it. That is why you have to think carefully on whether you should actually do it.”

Take the bull by the horns

Stefan Sahm of the Bulls team, who secured the fifth position during Stage 4, commented on the attack of the Dolphin-Trek team: “They attacked very early on in the race and we didn’t immediately go after them. We expected them to lose speed because of the terrain and difficulty of the stage, not even to mention the heat. We completely underestimated the situation as they did build up a gap and managed to stay ahead for a long time. We also rode in a very big group today and it was not working well. Alb-Gold Mountainbike had a flat tyre at one stage, and I’m not surprised that they couldn’t catch up with the rest of us after that. If you were not riding in a group today, you lost a lot of time and energy.”

Paulissen impressed other riders by flying up the last ascent, a very technical climb with a gradient of 15%. Afterwards, he was upfront leading the rest of the top teams for almost 15km. “I wanted to test my legs. This climb was as close to a climb in a cross-country world cup race as it can get. I now feel very confident after I could see what my legs can handle this early in the season.”

David George (MTN Energade) says that they are getting closer to where they want to be, but that it was yet another hard day. “Every day we hope for an easier stage and time to recover, but it remains tough. Cannondale really put the pressure on today for us to catch up with team Dolphin-Trek. We could see Bart and Alban cross the finish line as we were approaching, so we knew we made up a lot of time.”

Overall results reveal that Cannondale Vredestein can still comfortably hold on to the yellow leader jersey with an 18 minute lead (19:12:51) ahead of the Bulls team (19:31:10). Third overall is Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike (19:31:47), followed by MTN Energade (1) at 19:38:19.

Stefan Sahm (Bulls) says that something major will have to happen for others to catch up with Cannondale Vredestein, referring to “either a technical defect or very bad day for one of them. Cannondale Vredestein no longer have to attack during the Absa Cape Epic stages, but just have to keep up with those chasing them in order to take an overall win.”

For every downhill there is an uphill

Some teams were hit by a sudden burst of emotion on the last 10km stretch prior to the finish as they were expecting three climbs, but also encountered little ones in between, which left them unsure whether they were facing an actual climb or not. While riding through a forestry section with no wind, humidity and temperatures soared, riders faced another challenge when fresh mowed grass got caught up in their drive-train. Because of the clogged up cassettes the teams were not able to shift to lower gears, which made for a slower sprint at the finish line. Fortunately, riders had only another 2km to go when this happened.

The female pedal power

Competition is heating up between the ladies’ teams participating in this year’s Absa Cape Epic. For the first time since the race started last week Friday (28 March 2008), Stage 4 saw the leading teams sprint to the finish line, creating loads of excitement for onlookers.

The Trek/VW Wsd team, Susan Haywood (USA) and Jennifer Smith (NZL) were the first to cross the finish line at a time of 5:26:36. This puts them in 2nd position overall (23:56:15). The Rocky Mountain team, Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN), finished second (5:26.36) but still maintain their overall lead at a time of 22:58:05, leading with almost an hour overall.

Finishing in third place was Scott Contessa, Jane Seggie (RSA) and Ischen Stopforth (RSA), at a time of 5:51:08. They maintained their position in fifth place overall (25:03:42). The Absa Ladies, Erica Green (RSA) and Hanlie Booyens (RSA), finished in fourth place in a time of 6:06.54. They are also placed fourth overall at a time of 24:52.04.

Second Swiss withdraws as we say farewell to Fabienne

The Dolphin-Trek Mtb Racing team, Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) and Katrin Schwing (GER), who managed to maintain their position under the top three for the first three stages of the Absa Cape Epic, finished in fifth position at a time of 6:20:55. After today’s stage they ranked third overall (24:50:06), moving down from stage 3’s second position. Unfortunately Heinzmann had to withdraw from the race this afternoon due to a neck injury she obtained in a crash on a tarred road during Stage 2. She has been taken to Cape Town for a Cadscan in order to ascertain that there is no serious damage. “I’m really disappointed because I was feeling so strong in the first two stages. Ending my first ever Absa Cape Epic in this way is heart breaking, but my health comes first. I was in such pain today that I went to see the doctor immediately after crossing the finishline. They took me to hospital for an X-ray and suggested that I must see a specialist in Cape Town,” says Heinzmann.

These girls have class

The Trek/VW Wsd team, Susan Haywood and Jennifer Smith, says they had a great race after crossing the finish line first. Smith commented that the Rocky Mountain team let them pass. “They actually gave the stage win to us, which was such a classy thing to do and a huge compliment. It was a true sign of their strength and confidence that they did this. Also, near the end I had some grass in my drivetrain and couldn’t shift. Alison and Pia actually waited for us.” Haywood and Smith were also really surprised at their time. “When you ride with Alison and Pia, you automatically ride faster. We changed our strategy for today and worked very hard in the feed zones to not waste time. We didn’t want to lose the group that we were riding with as it was really great riding with them.”

Haywood added that they could stick together on the downhills as they trust each other so much. “Alison is one of the best descenders in the world, but her style isn’t reckless. She would never endanger anyone behind her.”

She also says that there was an immense amount of fair play amongst the ladies. “The Rocky Mountain team had plenty of opportunity to attack. Today was a sign of how relaxed they are with their comfortable lead. On the other hand, it was hard racing for us but we had a lot of fun along the way, chatting and laughing. Our only conclusion is that this must’ve been a recovery day for them.” Smith added: “Alison kept commenting that she’s an old lady – it must be some kind of a joke. She looks as if she’s fallen into the fountain of youth – she’s so fit and healthy.”

Haywood continues: “It’s so exciting riding in an event with a competitive field. There are 4 to 5 very strong teams in the Ladies division. This is definitely the hardest stage race I’ve ever done because of the pace, but in the end it’s all worth it. The other thing is that the race demands planning as well. This adds a certain dynamic which makes it almost like a road race. You have to strategise, use race tactics and position yourself – a workout for both mind and body. It’s actually really nice as it keeps you so interested in the race and aware of the bigger picture. With other stage races that I’ve done before, you go into survival mode – getting from stage to stage. This is much more challenging and interesting.”

Smith continues: “Today’s stage was really beautiful. The Absa Cape Epic is nothing like I expected with constant changes in scenery - every stage offers a different kind of beauty. It’s actually a shame that you can’t enjoy it more because of the competitiveness of the race. You start recognising people you are riding with by their jerseys, but you know nothing about them. Then in the evenings when you want to meet them, you don’t recognise them because they’re not wearing a helmet or cycling gear and their faces are clean.”

Once in a lifetime?

The Scott Contessa team, Jane Seggie and Ischen Stopforth, who finished in third position today, say they were in a group with the Absa and Dolphin-Trek teams for a good 25 km until the bottom of the first climb when they broke away. According to Seggie they both felt really strong today. “We decided to give it a try and one climb later we were in shock because we thought the other ladies caught up with us. We were really happy to see that it wasn’t them and that we made a mistake. We ended up riding with the Mixed teams at a really nice speed. It’s so amazing for us to be on the podium at this event. We’re really going to enjoy this as we know it won’t happen again,” she added laughingly. “We found the last couple of climbs very difficult and mentally exhausting. It really was a case of for every downhill there’s an uphill. We’re exhausted, but blown away by our result.”

Joybike claims back the mixed category win

Claiming back their usual stage win, Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja, Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER), was the first again to cross the finish line in their category (5:31:43) after Stage 3 only secured them a fourth position. They won both, Stage 1 and Stage 2. Cyclelab Toyota, Johan Labuschagne (RSA) & Yolande de Villiers (RSA), was second (5:36:20), followed by Absa Mixed, Kobus Barnard (RSA) & Fienie Barnard (RSA) at 5:38:33.

The ranking order for the overall positions echoed those of the stage win (Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja, 23:26:55; Cyclelab Toyota, 23:42:55; Absa Mixed, 24:20:56).

Ivonne Kraft and Nico Pfitzenmaier were riding with the Rocky Mountain team for most of the way. Says Kraft: “We had quite an emotional start to Stage 4. We noticed 5 minutes prior to the start that a bolt was missing from Nico’s rear disc break, so we started late. We only caught up with the leading ladies 40km into the race, and shortly after we also caught up with Cyclelab Toyota, Yolande and Johan. Yolande’s been struggling with her shoulder and the technical sections of today’s route must’ve been really challenging for her. We continued riding with them for around 100km into the race when we hit a very technical climb. We then took off with the Trek/VW Wsd and Rocky Mountain teams. The girls are used to riding cross country and could play their Joker card.”

Kraft adds that “it was actually very nice to ride with the leading ladies because we know each other so well and there is so much mutual respect. As a very strong downhiller, the other girls let me pass. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and give way to let the others ride at comfortable speeds. There is so much mutual respect and we feel a sense of responsibility for each other with the World Cup season around the corner. The beauty of riding in a mixed team is that Nico is such a gentleman. He was my ‘domestique’ today, carrying four bottles with him and sharing them with me, and did quite a bit of leading for us girls.”

Masters of the Epic universe

For the first time the Absa Masters had to hand over the stage win for the Masters category to prologue winners Adidas Williams Simpson, Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA), when they crossed the finish line at 5:07:26 and 5:09:51 respectively. The Absa Masters, Doug Brown (RSA) and Barti Bucher (SUI), however enjoyed a 7 minute lead when the Pragma Masters, M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE), crossed the finish line at 5:16:37.

Overall, the Absa Masters are still holding on to their Masters leader jersey, with an overall time of 21:25:40, followed by Adidas William Simpson at 21:41:07, and Pragma Masters at 22:23:30.

Development teams in the top 25

The development teams continue to impress as they perform outstandingly well, with Project Rwanda, Absa Safari Simbaz and Project Rwanda (2) all completing their stage race today in the top 25 to cross the finish line (Men’s Category). Project Rwanda (2), Adrie Niyonshuti (RWA) & Nathan Bukusenge (RWA), completed their stage race in the 15th position at a time of 5:01:37, less than an hour after the top Dolphin-Trek team of the day. Absa Safari Simbaz, David Kinjah (KEN) and Davidson Kamau (KEN), also crossed the finish line with ease after 5:13:36. Project Rwanda, Jonathan Boyer (USA) and Abraham Ruhumuriza (RWA), was welcomed across the finish line after they conquered the route within 5:18:19.

Announcers reach boiling point

Usually they are spreading the Absa Cape Epic fever among the spectators of the Magical and Untamed African MTB Race. Today, Mike Mike and Francois, the voices at the start and the finish line, nearly suffered from a heatstroke when temperatures soared. The peak temperature they measured inside their announcers tent was an astonishing 46 ° Celsius. Considering that they announce for eight hours non-stop it is nothing short of a miracle that they are not cooked “well-done” by now. Mike Mike Hamel has been ‘the voice’ of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas since the inaugural year. He is working as an announcer world-wide at international events like the Ironman race series, the Ford Ironman World Championship, the ITU Triathlon World Championship, the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup and World Championship and the FIS Snowboard World Cup. This year he will also MC the Euro Soccer Cup in Klagenfurt, Austria. Bilingual Francois Ashton (English/Afrikaans) has perfected his craft as an announcer at the Giro del Capo, the SAA Road Champs, the Track Champs and numerous MTB and road events all over South Africa.

Neverending story

For Stage 5 of the Absa Cape Epic, the route will take riders from Swellendam to Bredasdorp (146km, 1 819m climbing). While it may look like an easy day on the smooth dirt roads, riders will turn into about 20km of rough dual tracks of De Hoop Nature Reserve where rocks and deep sand kill their momentum and their legs. As this time of year is usually a dry season, the sandy tracks will be deeper and longer. Many will be frustrated with having to get off and push. But it will finally be worth it – riders will get a magnificent reward – another ocean vista will open out in front of them as they crest the last hill. With luck, many will spot some Dolphins (not the Trek guys!) in the waves. Thorns and sharp rocks will pose the challenge of keeping air in the tyres again. This protected area is alive with flora and fauna with proteas and baboons, ostriches, eland, steenbok and Cape mountain zebra. But riders will be focused on getting home across the windy plains and farmlands into Bredasdorp.

Visit www.cape-epic.com  for more details and to see where the riders are online during the race.

Watch the Absa Cape Epic highlights daily on Supersort2 at 22h30.
 

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director


02 APRIL 2008

NEWSFLASH


FIRST STAGE WIN FOR GERMAN BULLS TEAM AFTER OVERALL LEADERS (CANNONDALE VREDESTEIN) RIDE IN ON A RIM

CANNONDALE VREDESTEIN’S OVERALL LEAD THREATENED AS TIME GAP NARROWS!


Completing the longest stage in the history of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas, where riders have covered a total of 677 km and climbed more than 12 689m to date, saw the German Bulls team cross the Stage 5 finish line first (5:10:52) in an exciting sprint finish - claiming their first stage win during this year’s event.

Yellow jersey leaders Cannondale Vredestein, who up to the end of Stage 4 enjoyed an overall 18 minute lead, only managed to secure a fifth position (5:19:26), which dramatically narrowed their comfortable time advantage down to less than 10 minutes. Astonishing those at the finish line, Roel Paulissen (BEL) (Cannondale Vredestein) completed the stage race with a tyre missing, riding in on only the rim!

Karl Platt (GER) and Stefan Sahm (GER) of the Bulls team were followed by fellow Germans Alb-Gold Mountainbike, Hannes Genze and Joschen Kaess, a mere 0.002 seconds later to claim their second place stage win. Less than 2 seconds later Stage 4 winners Bart Brentjens (NED) and Alban Lakata (AUT) of Dolphin-Trek thrilled spectators at a time of 5:10:54. The South African MTN Energade team, Kevin Evans and David George, completed their stage race a second later (5:10:55), providing one of the most exciting stage finishes of this year’s Absa Cape Epic.

For Stage 5 of the Absa Cape Epic, the route had riders make the journey from Swellendam to Bredasdorp (146km, 1 819m climbing). While it might have looked like an easy day on the smooth dirt roads, riders had to turn into about 20km of rough dual tracks of De Hoop Nature Reserve where rocks and deep sand killed their momentum and their legs. As this time of year is usually a dry season, the sandy tracks were deeper and longer. Many were frustrated with having to get off and push. But it was finally worth it – riders got a magnificent reward – another ocean vista opened out in front of them as they crested the last hill. Thorns and sharp rocks posed the challenge of keeping air in the tyres again. This protected area was alive with flora and fauna with proteas, baboons, ostriches, eland, steenbok and Cape mountain zebra. But riders focused on getting home across the windy plains and farmlands into Bredasdorp.

The fifth stage of the Absa Cape Epic provided much drama and excitement, when approximately 40km into the race, Jakob Fuglsang of Cannondale Vredestein had a flat tyre, followed by a stroke of bad luck when their quick fill cartridge didn’t work properly. Using a second cartridge did not help either as the adaptor they had did not work. With only one cartridge left, the team was rescued when Rune Hoydahl of Etto Hoydahl 2 gave them his adaptor, which finally allowed the team to fill the tube. Devastating the team even more, the new tube was broken too and had to be exchanged once more before they could continue with the challenge. At this stage Cannondale Vredestein had lost almost six minutes, and therefore had to work hard to catch up with the group. As they made their way to the front, they passed Hoydahl and returned his adaptor in case he had a flat tyre and needed it.

But the misfortune did not end there. 18km prior to the finish line, Fuglsang had another flat and they had nothing to repair it with. “We didn’t know what to do, as we had no cartridges left and gave the adaptor back to Rune. We then decided, ‘why not just ride in on the rim without the tube?’ which we did. Roel was feeling stronger today so he suggested that we exchange wheels.”

In the process of taking the rear wheel out of Fuglsang’s bike, the team lost his brake pads. Fuglsang therefore had to ride without any rear brakes, with more than 18km to go (including 5km of single track track). Fuglsang pushed his partner in off-road sections and pulled him on the tarred road.

Paulissen says that riding on the rim was killing his legs. “It was like riding on a drilling machine, and I can still feel the effects of this afterwards. We didn’t have a clue how far we were behind – our gut feeling told us it must’ve been more than 18 minutes, and we were sure that we would no longer be overall leaders. But we kept going, which was definitely the right decision. We were thrilled when we reached the finish line only to find that we had lost a mere 8 minutes.”

He added that all he can do to recover from the additional pressure that his legs had to endure during Stage 5 was to eat properly, “but that gets more difficult after each stage, because you are too tired to eat.”

Stage winner Karl Platt says that his teammate Stefan Sahm was really strong today. “I started off the race with my legs feeling totally finished. Fortunately the stage was not so difficult today – just long and hot. It took about 40km for me to warm up and then it felt like someone put a switch on and anything was possible. I felt really strong thereafter. The only part of today’s stage that was tough and nasty was the sandy passage.”

It was in this deep sand that the Bulls team encountered their share of the day’s bad luck when one of the team members from the Hoydahl teams crashed and Platt fell on top of him. “I had to get off my bike to fix it and we had to work really hard in this sandy part to catch up.”

Alb-Gold Mountainbike also had their fair share of drama in the sand when Hannes Genze’s chain broke and took 3 minutes to fix. “It was way in the beginning of the sandy nightmare, so it took forever to catch up, as at this stage the second group had already passed us. When one of the riders crossed over into my track, we crashed, which caused another delay.”

Jochen Kaess adds: “After we passed the second group we were on our own. By the time we reached the final waterpoint we were two and a half minutes behind and we worked our butts off to close the gap, which we did 20km prior to the finish. I felt really strong today and did most of the leading in our team. So all in all, we had a really good day, despite all the bad luck. I am just grateful that it happened today and not during any of the other stages.”

Further results reveal that the overall winner title of this year’s Absa Cape Epic is still up for anyone’s taking with Cannondale Vredestein (24:32:17) almost halving their overall lead-time after the previous stage to less than ten minutes. Bulls (24:42:03) and Alb-Gold Mountainbike (24:42:40) are only seconds apart from each other, with MTN Energade (24:49:14) and Dolphin-Trek (24:50:47) just over a minute apart.

STAGE 5 RESULTS:

MEN:
1. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 5:10:52.4
2. Alb-Gold Mountainbike – Hannes Genze (GER) & Jochen Kaess (GER) – 5:10:52.6
3. Dolphin-Trek – Bart Brentjens (NED) & Alban Lakata (AUT) – 5:10:54
4. MTN Energade (1) – Kevin Evans (RSA) & David George (RSA) – 5:10:55
5. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 5:19:26

LADIES:
1. Trek/Vw Wsd – Susan Haywood (USA) & Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 6:19:17
2. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 6:21:10
3. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) – 6:50:09
4. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 7:08:32
5. Valhalla – Petruschka Constancon (RSA) & Louise Hemmes (RSA) – 7:39:47

MASTERS:
1. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 5:47:03
2. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA) – 5:53:24
3. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE) – 6:00:39
4. Jeff Art Signs / Giant – Bryan Strauss (RSA) & Andre Viljoen (RSA) – 6:12:00
5. Private Client Holdings – Andrew Johan Cillie (RSA) & Leon Olivier (RSA) – 6:24:02

MIXED:
1. Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 6:16:57
2. Cyclelab Toyota – Johan Labuschagne (RSA) & Yolande de Villiers (RSA) – 6:19:14
3. Absa Mixed – Kobus Barnard (RSA) & Fienie Barnard (RSA) – 6:36:55
4. X.O Felt Swiss – Adrian Burri (SUI) & Franziska Roethlin (SUI) – 6:42:21
5. Mud Suckers – Michelle Schlebusch (RSA) & Chris Fick (RSA) – 7:02:43

OVERALL RESULTS:

MEN:
1. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 24:32:17
2. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 24:42:03
3. Alb-Gold Mountainbike – Hannes Genze (GER) & Jochen Kaess (GER) – 24:42:40
4. MTN Energade (1) – Kevin Evans (RSA) & David George (RSA) – 24:49:14
5. Dolphin-Trek - Bart Brentjens (NED) & Alban Lakata (AUT) – 24:50:47
6. Full-Dynamix Rsm – Fredrik Kessiakoff (SUI) & Massimo Debertolis (ITA) – 25:21:02
7. Usn/adidas – Brandon Stewart (RSA) & Max Knox (RSA) – 25:38:08
8. MTN Energade (2) – Mannie Heymans (NAM) & Melt Swanepoel (RSA) – 26:10:01
9. Etto Hoydahl (3) – Martin Bratland (NOR) & Kristian Torgersen (NOR) - 26:10:32
10. Etto Hoydahl (2) Rune Hoydahl (NOR) & Ola Kjoren (NOR) – 26:18:13

LADIES:
1. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 29:19:16
2. Trek/Vw Wsd – Susan Haywood (USA) & Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 30:15:32
3. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) – 31:53:51
4. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 32:00:36
5. Valhalla – Petruschka Constancon (RSA) & Louise Hemmes (RSA) – 36:43:43

MASTERS:
1. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 27:12:38
2. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA) – 27:34:32
3. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE) – 28:24:09
4. Private Client Holdings – Andrew Johan Cillie (RSA) & Leon Olivier (RSA) – 30:26:40
5. Jeff Art Signs / Giant – Bryan Strauss (RSA) & Andre Viljoen (RSA) – 30:29:56



Visit www.cape-epic.com to view the full results.
 

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director



Dear Mountain Bike Enthusiast,

Completing the longest stage in the history of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas, where riders have covered a total of 677 km and climbed more than 12 689m to date, saw the German Bulls team cross the Stage 5 finish line first (5:10:52) in an exciting sprint finish - claiming their first stage win during this year’s event.

Yellow jersey leaders Cannondale Vredestein, who up to the end of Stage 4 enjoyed an overall 18 minute lead, only managed to secure a fifth position (5:19:26), which dramatically narrowed their comfortable time advantage down to less than 10 minutes. Astonishing those at the finish line, Roel Paulissen (BEL), Cannondale Vredestein, completed the stage race with a tyre missing, riding in on only the rim!




 


Bulls celebrate their first stage win

Karl Platt (GER) and Stefan Sahm (GER) of the Bulls team were followed by fellow Germans Alb-Gold Mountainbike, Hannes Genze and Joschen Kaess, a mere 0.002 seconds later to claim their second place stage win. Less than 2 seconds later Stage 4 winners Bart Brentjens (NED) and Alban Lakata (AUT) of Dolphin-Trek thrilled spectators at a time of 5:10:54. The South African MTN Energade team, Kevin Evans (RSA) and David George (RSA), completed their stage race a second later (5:10:55), providing one of the most exciting stage finishes of this year’s Absa Cape Epic.


The longest stage ever
 
For Stage 5 of the Absa Cape Epic, the route had riders make the journey from Swellendam to Bredasdorp (146km, 1 819m climbing). While it might have looked like an easy day on the smooth dirt roads, riders had to turn into about 20km of rough dual tracks of De Hoop Nature Reserve where rocks and deep sand killed their momentum and their legs. As this time of year is usually a dry season, the sandy tracks were deeper and longer. Many were frustrated with having to get off and push. But it was finally worth it – riders got a magnificent reward – another ocean vista opened out in front of them as they crested the last hill. Thorns and sharp rocks posed the challenge of keeping air in the tyres again. This protected area was alive with flora and fauna with proteas, baboons, ostriches, eland, steenbok and Cape mountain zebra. But riders focused on getting home across the windy plains and farmlands into Bredasdorp.

Stranger than fiction

The fifth stage of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas provided much drama and excitement, when approximately 40km into the race, Jakob Fuglsang of Cannondale Vredestein had a flat tyre, followed by a stroke of bad luck when their quick fill cartridge didn’t work properly. Using a second cartridge did not help either as the adaptor they had did not work. With only one cartridge left, the team was rescued when Rune Hoydahl of Etto Hoydahl 2 gave them his adaptor, which finally allowed the team to fill the tube. Devastating the team even more, the new tube was broken too and had to be exchanged once more before they could continue with the challenge. At this stage Cannondale Vredestein had lost almost seven minutes, and therefore had to work hard to catch up with the group. As they made their way to the front, they passed Hoydahl and returned his adaptor in case he had a flat tyre and needed it.

But the misfortune did not end there. 18km prior to the finish line, Fuglsang had another flat and they had nothing to repair it with. “We didn’t know what to do, as we had no cartridges left and gave the adaptor back to Rune. We then decided, ‘why not just ride in on the rim without the tube?’ which we did. Roel was feeling stronger today so he suggested that we exchange wheels,” says Jakob Fuglsang.

In the process of taking the rear wheel out of Fuglsang’s bike, the team lost his brake pads. Fuglsang therefore had to ride without any rear brakes, with more than 18km to go (including 5km of single track). Fuglsang pushed his partner in off-road sections and pulled him on the tarred road. Paulissen says that riding on the rim was killing his legs. “It was like riding on a drilling machine, and I can still feel the effects of this afterwards. We didn’t have a clue how far we were behind – our gut feeling told us it must’ve been more than 18 minutes, and we were sure that we would no longer be overall leaders. But we kept going, which was definitely the right decision. We were thrilled when we reached the finish line only to find that we had lost a mere 8 minutes.” He added that all he can do to recover from the additional pressure that his legs had to endure during Stage 5 was to eat properly, “but that gets more difficult after each stage, because you are too tired to eat.”

Quicksand...NOT

Stage winner Karl Platt says that his teammate Stefan Sahm was really strong today. “I started off the race with my legs feeling totally finished. Fortunately the stage was not so difficult today – just long and hot. It took about 40km for me to warm up and then it felt like someone put a switch on and anything was possible. I felt really strong thereafter. The only part of today’s stage that was tough and nasty was the sandy passage.” It was in this deep sand that the Bulls team encountered their share of the day’s bad luck when one of the team members from the Hoydahl teams crashed and Platt fell on top of him. “I had to get off my bike to fix it and I had to work really hard in this sandy part to catch up.”

Alb-Gold Mountainbike also had their fair share of drama in the sand when Hannes Genze’s chain broke and took 3 minutes to fix. “It was way in the beginning of the sandy nightmare, so it took forever to catch up, as at this stage the second group had already passed us. When one of the riders crossed over into my track, we crashed, which caused another delay.” Jochen Kaess adds: “After we passed the second group we were on our own. By the time we reached the final waterpoint we were two and a half minutes behind and we worked our butts off to close the gap, which we did 20km prior to the finish. I felt really strong today and did most of the leading in our team. So all in all, we had a really good day, despite all the bad luck. I am just grateful that it happened today and not during any of the other stages.”

Cannondale Vredestein still in lead…

Further results reveal that the overall winner title of this year’s Absa Cape Epic is still up for anyone’s taking with Cannondale Vredestein (24:32:17) almost halving their overall lead-time after the previous stage to less than ten minutes. Bulls (24:42:03) and Alb-Gold Mountainbike (24:42:40) are only seconds apart from each other, with MTN Energade (24:49:14) and Dolphin-Trek (24:50:47) just over a minute apart.

Rocky Mountain refuses to let go of top spot

The Trek/Vw Wsd team, Susan Haywood (USA) and Jennifer Smith (NZL), once again crossed the finish line first in the ladies category at a time of 6:19:17, ahead of Rocky Moutain, Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN), at 6:21:10. But despite another stage win, Rocky Mountain still leads the way overall at 29:19:16. However, the ladies are aware that anything can happen, especially after today’s upset in the Men’s category. Trek/Vw Wsd are slowly catching up (30:15:32). Third overall is Scott Contessa, Jane Seggie (RSA) and Ischen Stopforth (NZL) at 30:53:51.

Masters of their craft

Absa Masters, Doug Brown (RSA) and Barti Bucher (SUI), dominated the Masters category today with a stage completion time of 5:47:03, followed by Adidas William Simpson, Shan Wilson (RSA) and Walter Platzgummer (ITA), at 5:53:24. The Pragma Masters, M.C. Franken (RSA) and Peter Buggle (IRE) completed their stage race at 6:00:39. The overall results remain consistent (Absa Masters – 27:12:38; Adidas William Simpson – 27:34:32; Pragma Masters – 28:24:09).

Mixed feelings

In the Mixed category, Joybike-Maloja Express, Ivonne Kraft (GER) and Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER), enjoyed a good stage race at 6:16:57, followed by Cyclelab Toyota, Johan Labuschagne (RSA) and Yolande de Villiers (RSA), at 6:19:14. In third place was Absa Mixed, Kobus Barnard (RSA) and Fienie Barnard (RSA), at a time of 6:36:55.

Overall, Joybike-Maloja Express, enjoys an almost 20 minute lead (29:43:51) above Cyclelab Toyota (30:02:09). However, the Absa Mixed team poses no threat for the second position at 30:57:51.


90 percent of riders made it half way
through

Of the 368 teams that entered the Absa Cape Epic in the Men’s category, 300 were still in the race this morning, with 19 of the 24 Ladies teams still going strong. The Masters category dropped to 113 from the 147 teams that started the journey during Stage 1. There are 47 of the 61 teams left in the Mixed category. Therefore, 81% of teams in the Men’s Category still remain, 79% in the Ladies category, 77% in the Masters category as well as 77% in the Mixed category. This refers to the full teams still in the race – however, the Absa Cape Epic rules allow for riders to form new teams if one of their partners drop out (but they will be seen as individual riders). 1 200 riders started their Absa Cape Epic journey in Knysna, with 90% still participating (including individual finishers and blue board riders. Blue board riders are those who carry on riding, but are no longer considered as finishers after not completing a stage).

Absa Cape Epic – the Tour de France of mountain biking

After completing the Tour de France 12 times in a row (1992 – 2003), Germany’s Udo Boelts sees the Absa Cape Epic as the next challenge to conquer. Participating this year with Carsten Bresser, also from Germany, the team of Rocky Mountain/Cube believes that the Absa Cape Epic has the potential to become the mountain bike version of the Tour de France.

Boelts, a three times German Champion (1990, 1995, 1999) and the only German to have ever won the Critéterium du Dauphiné Libéré (an important 8-stage cycling road race in the lead-up to the Tour de France) admits that the Absa Cape Epic is gruelling and challenging. “It is my first time to participate in the event and it is hard for me as I am far more experienced on the road. But despite the fact that it is so hot here, and that it is so tough, it is just beautiful...today we saw antelopes, the ocean and the most incredible views. I really take my hat off to the amateur riders who have a full time job and have to train and prepare for this – I have an endless amount of respect that they endure the physical strain,” he says.

Boelts also has a stage win at the Giro d’Italia under his belt and placed 4th at the 1997 UCI World Championship. He believes that the Absa Cape Epic is so professionally and well-organised that it has the potential to become an as prestigious and historical event as the Tour de France. “The achievements that the organisers bring about honestly deserve an award; it is just unbelievable how they care for the participants of this race – from feeding them right through to technical support. I have never seen this level of organizing at any other MTB event in Europe, the US or anywhere else where I’ve participated – this is top notch. I really hope that the sponsors will hold onto this event and continue to support it as it is truly unique. Now that I’ve experienced it, I can see myself come back to participate competitively.”

Bresser, a three time Transalp champion, three times overall winner of the German national league and winner of a 3rd place at the Absa Cape Epic 2006, also placed 3rd at the 2003 UCI Marathon World Championships in Lugano and 8th in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Prior to the Absa Cape Epic, he completed a marathon in 2:35 hours – an impressive achievement!

The Irony of fate

When Hannele Steyn-Kotze (RSA) and Fourie Kotze (RSA) were divorced in February last year, they would never have thought that they would end up riding the 2008 Absa Cape Epic together. Iconic cyclist Steyn-Kotze has participated every single year, but never rode the event together with her husband as a team. In 2004, when the well-known South African cycling couple planned to participate as a Mixed team in the inaugural race, Fourie injured his ankle and had to drop out a few weeks prior to the challenge. Hannele then rode with Johan Greeff (RSA) with whom she placed second. A year later, she raced with golf pro Zoe Frost (RSA) in the ladies category, taking top honours. In 2006, Fourie competed with Anke Moore (RSA) and took the runner-up position in the Mixed category. For this year’s event, Hannele teamed up with her former mountain bike student Leanne Brown-Waterson (RSA) while Fourie in turn partnered with the reigning SA cross-country champion Amy Mundy (RSA). Kotze asked Mundy two weeks prior to the event if she would ride with him after losing his initial partner. She replied, “give me an hour to think about it” and confirmed 60 minutes later. Having mastered the art to go two hours at full speed to win the SA champs, Mundy struggled after the first three stages of the Absa Cape Epic and withdrew from the race. Hannele also suffered a blow when her riding partner gave up due to excessive exhaustion. Disappointed, they informed their sponsor adidas that they must both find a new riding partner to complete the Absa Cape Epic whereafter Axel Burkhardt from adidas jokingly suggested “why don’t you just ride together, after all you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses after being married for 10 years.” To the surprise of fellow riders they lined up as a team this morning. “I don’t mind going hard, but you have to adjust to my pace,” Hannele negotiated with her ex-husband who had placed third in Stage 2 and 3.

Kotze’s former riding partner Mundy expressed her delight about the fact that he would be able to continue with the race. “It’s a really good rule that you can form new teams, after your partner drops out due to illness or injury. It would be very unfair for any participant to leave after all the effort and hours of training they put in. I was in the same situation in the inaugural event when I lost my partner and continued the race with a guy from the Netherlands.” Mundy says that for her the Absa Cape Epic will always be a team race. “It has always been and should always be that way as it is the spirit of the event. You just have to find the right partner.”

Steyn-Kotze smiles about the irony of the situation. “In contrast to last year, when I was still very emotional about our divorce, I can now partner with my ex-husband as a friend. For the past ten years we have been riding together day-in and day-out. He has taught me everything I know about cycling, so it makes perfect sense for us to team up. And looking at our time today crossing the finish line third, we would have been a force to be reckoned with, if we had raced together from the word go.” However, Absa Cape Epic rules stipulate that a newly formed team no longer appears in the ranking.

“Looking back at all the Absa Cape Epics that I have completed, I can honestly say that the experiences have been life-changing,” says Steyn-Kotze. “I can now accept things that I cannot change, I have learned to be more of a team person, and I can let go, as where before I have always been too competitive. Today is a classic example. I was pushing myself to keep up with the leading ladies and after 40km I asked myself why I was doing this, I was not enjoying it, so I let go. In the past, that would never have happened. I really cherish and value these life lessons that the Absa Cape Epic teaches me.”

Jakob Fuglsang gives the shirt off his back

Bredasdorp youngster, Jacques Marthinus (11), had his dream come true today when the Big Tree Foundation and adidas surprised him by giving him a brand new mountain bike. Jacques, the son of a local fisherman, suffers from FAS (Fatal Alcohol Syndrome) and already had one heart operation. He will undergo another heart operation tomorrow (Thursday) at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. Big Tree overheard that his own bike broke recently when he participated in the adidas Bicycle Challenge today. This left the young man devastated as cycling is the only sport he is allowed to participate in. During the awards ceremony today where the leading teams received their leader honours, Jacques was called to the stage where he shared the platform with the leading teams. He was overwhelmed when his surprise gift was handed to him. Touched by the gesture, Jakob Fuglsang immediately removed his leader jersey and dressed the youngster with it, ensuring that today was a day Jacques would never forget...

Pressure of a different kind

Our riders and crew are not the only ones challenged by time on a daily basis. The official film crew of the Absa Cape Epic have not only one, but two deadlines to chase. The international media rely globally on news footage and unilaterals to be available via satellite at 16h30 every day, which covers the stage race of the particular day. Following this, they immediately have to prepare the highlights (editing the footage, scripting and providing voiceovers) broadcasted on Supersport2 every evening at 22h30.

As with riders participating in this year’s event, technical surprises and rough terrain is another challenge. The Absa Cape Epic TV crew had to survive up to 50 degrees Celsius after their aircondition broke down two days ago, and the spare parts needed to repair the equipment were not available. Naturally, these high temperatures affected their equipment, including a laptop used by the script department that “melted”. When the aircon repairmen finally arrived, sparks flew when a hole was drilled into the wall, and the news team had to literally work between the legs of the repairmen in order to meet their deadline.

Stage 4 also provided further challenges when the quad bike carrying the lead camera man crashed after hitting a stone, resulting in the driver suffering from a broken wrist. The television helicopter, available to take anyone who needs medical care to the medical team, rushed the crewmember to hospital to ensure immediate care. A close call had the team panic yesterday when they discovered that a corrupt file killed their voiceover, and they had to re-do it... The show was ready five minutes before the uplink at 20h55! Now that’s impressive... But in actual fact, the adventures for the TV crew started even before the Prologue commenced, when a “friendly” gentleman tried to be helpful by turning on the generator in a way that blew up their motherboard, which had to be replaced even before the race started.

Next stop: Hermanus

For Stage 6, Absa Cape Epic riders will travel from Bredasdorp to Hermanus (130km, 2 095m climbing). The start out in Bredasdorp will offer fast gravel roads through the surrounding farmland. A rugged warm-up climb followed by a loose descent gets riders ready for the day’s big challenge: Salmonsdam Nature Reserve. It will be a 14km ascent from around 6% to 12% on rugged jeep track, winding its way through mountain fynbos. The views along the way, as well as the loose and rocky drop down towards the vineyards, are all worth the effort. But the finish line will still be a long way away. A short stretch on tar will give riders a welcome rest before dirt roads and farm tracks head for the sea. A quick nip over the dunes will take riders into the shores of Walker Bay to cross the Stanford River mouth – a knee-deep wade before reaching the spectacular finish at the Old Hermanus Harbour.

Visit www.cape-epic.com for more details and to see where the riders are online during the race.

Watch the Absa Cape Epic highlights daily on Supersort2 at 22h30.

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director


03 APRIL 2008

NEWSFLASH


SOUTH AFRICAN TEAM MTN ENERGADE WINS THEIR FIRST STAGE IN THE 2008 ABSA CAPE EPIC

IT IS MAKE OR BREAK DURING FINAL STAGES OF ABSA CAPE EPIC AS LEADING TEAMS FIGHT FOR STAGE WINS

For the first time since winning the Prologue, the MTN Energade team of Kevin Evans (RSA) and David George (RSA) sprinted first across the finish line in Hermanus for the 6th stage of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas – their first stage win for this year’s event (4:53:01). Stage winners from the day before, the Bulls team of Karl Platt (GER) and Stefan Sahm (GER), secured a second place two seconds later at 4:53:03.They were followed one second later by the overall leaders Cannondale Vredestein, Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), who aggressively defended their yellow jersey honours at a time of 4:53:04.

After encountering numerous problems the day before, including having to ride the final 18km on a rim during Stage 5 (Roel Paulissen) and finishing in fifth position, the Cannondale Vredestein team worked hard to ensure that they hang on to a comfortable overall lead of 9 minutes over the Bulls (29:25:11 for Cannondale Vredestein and 29:34:25 for Bulls). MTN Energade will have to work hard to catch up with the Bulls, who enjoy a seven and a half minute advantage (MTN Energade is at 29:41:55). They do however enjoy a 10 minute lead over Dolphin Trek, who are in the fourth position with an overall time of 29:52:22.

For Stage 6, Absa Cape Epic participants travelled from Bredasdorp to Hermanus (130km, 2 095m climbing). The start out in Bredasdorp offered fast gravel roads through the surrounding farmland. A rugged warm-up climb followed by a loose descent got riders ready for the day’s big challenge: Salmonsdam Nature Reserve. It was a 14km ascent from around 6% to 12% on rugged jeep tracking, winding its way through mountain fynbos. The views along the way, as well as the loose and rocky drop down towards the vineyards, made it worth the effort. But the finish line was still a long way away. A short stretch on tar gave riders a welcome rest before dirt roads and farm tracks headed for the sea. A quick nip over the dunes took riders into the shores of Walker Bay to cross the Stanford River mouth – a knee-deep wade before they reached the spectacular finish at the Old Hermanus Harbour.

A Time bonus was once again awarded during Stage 6, similar to Stage 2. This was the first time in the 5-year history of the Absa Cape Epic that time bonus advantages were introduced at various hotspots in the race. Although time bonuses are common in road stage races, the Absa Cape Epic is the first mountain bike stage race to introduce the concept to mountain biking.

Overall leader Jakob Fuglsang (Cannondale Vredestein) says that they were taking it easier today on the downhill, because they didn't want to risk a flat. “Instead, we went full blast on the uphill,” he says. His teammate Roel Paulissen says that all the participants had to cope with wind from the front for the entire day, as well as deal with corrugated road for 40km. “We absolutely hated it as we could only go 17-20 km/h and had to work really hard. We were grateful that we were riding in a group of three strong teams, but it was almost too few riders to share the hard work.”

He adds that the beginning of the stage was already tough, but teams had to still cope with a difficult part during the end – a 35 to 40km long washboard killer. “I feel sorry for the amateurs as it was not an easy challenge. Until the first climb we were a group of 50 to 60 riders. Then at the first Waterpoint Bart Brentjens stopped so briefly that we had to rush back on our bikes to get to him. I started to attack at the first long climb at Salmonsdam.”
Following this, Fuglsang took the lead, but soon fell behind again and Paulissen waited for him. It was during the downhill that the Bulls team decided to go full blast for the time bonus.

Stefan Sahm (Bulls) says, “At the long climb Roel was attacking really hard. I needed at bit more time at the Water Point to put oil on my chain and thought ‘please don’t let it be another huge gap that we must close’. Fortunately we could close the gap quite quickly and when we had caught them on top of the mountain we took a risk on the downhill and went full blast. When we arrived on our own at the bottom, we carried on to grab the time bonus.”

MTN Energade was also aiming for the time advantage, but the Bulls team was so fast they couldn’t keep up the pace.

“I was very impressed with David’s performance on that downhill,” says Evans. “He gained so much experience and learnt so much during this last week of the Absa Cape Epic. Four days ago we would have lost four to five minutes on that downhill. Today it was only 60 seconds!”

At the hot spot 3km in front of Water Point 3, the Bulls team were 1.05 min ahead and comfortably won the time bonus, followed by MTN Energade (2nd) and Cannondale Vredestein (3rd). The Bulls team, who won stage 5 the day before, received a 40 second bonus for their victory. MTN Energade in second place welcomed their 20 second time bonus. Overall leaders Cannondale Vredestein gained 10 second from the time bonus to add to their overall lead.

Dolphin-Trek, Bart Brentjens (NED) and Alban Lakata (AUT), together with Full-Dynamix Rsm, Fredrik Kessiakoff (SUI) and Missimo Debertolis (ITA) and USN/adidas, Brandon Stewart (RSA) and Max Knox (RSA) crossed the hot spot next, but they were already 5:30 minutes behind.

All of the top riders agreed that it was a long ride to the finish and that the race felt tougher than the previous stage.

For stage winner David George the victory was not only an emotional high as it was his
second win in a Mountainbike race ever (1st was the 2008 Absa Cape Epic Prologue), but the location also played a very special part as he grew up and played in Hermanus a lot as a child. His grandmother still lives here.

Comments Evans: “David actually said eight months ago that he would love to win in Hermanus in front of his family. Winning in such a competitive, world class field makes the victory even sweeter. We are both sure that one of the top riders who come out of the Absa Cape Epic will win the first world cup as they are in such good shape and are getting stronger every day.”

George says that they tried to break away 5km before the finish line. “This was the only stage in which I knew what the last km would look like, because I know Hermanus so well. Our objective was to make the podium and that’s what we achieved today. We’re grateful that the next two days are the shortest, but I don’t think they will be easy though.”

Evans says that if they continue to feel strong and are not struck by bad luck they can make it on the GC podium which would be an amazing success for them. “This will be the first time since 2004 if we do make it. Back in 2004 the race was not so competitive yet”. To date, Evan’s Absa Cape Epic highlight was a third place win in 2005 with Silvio Wiletschnig from Austria.

Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) of Full Dynamix-Rsm, who came in 5th today, says that for the first three days of the Absa Cape Epic he felt good and was very motivated, while his riding partner Debertolis Massimo (ITA) was struggling. “Since this is a team race you just have to stick by your partner. But now it is just the other way around. Yesterday and today I suffered. I can’t ride strong all the way to the finish and if you go on you suffer too much and it is hard to recover from that. So as I weakened Massimo regained his strength, which is really frustrating. But we were 5th today and are 6th overall in a world-class field which is a great achievement”.

STAGE 6 RESULTS:

MEN:

1. MTN Energade (1) – Kevin Evans (RSA) & David George (RSA) – 4:53:01
2. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 4:53:03
3. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 4:53:04
4. Dolphin-Trek – Bart Brentjens (NED) & Alban Lakata (AUT) – 5:01:35
5. Full-Dynamix Rsm – Fredrik Kessiakoff (SUI) & Massimo Debertolis (ITA) – 5:03:42

LADIES:

1. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 5:45:01
2. Trek/Vw Wsd – Susan Haywood (USA) & Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 5:57:21
3. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) – 6:20:24
4. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 6:56:12
5. Valhalla – Petruschka Constancon (RSA) & Louise Hemmes (RSA) – 7:05:27

MASTERS:

1. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA) – 5:29:25
2. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE) – 5:37:04
3. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 5:41:45
4. Private Client Holdings – Andrew Johan Cillie (RSA) & Leon Olivier (RSA) – 5:56:33
5. Chamizo-Sportful – Franky Taelman (GER) & Danny Flies (GER) – 5:57:14

MIXED:
1. Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 5:56:18
2. Cyclelab Toyota – Johan Labuschagne (RSA) & Yolande de Villiers (RSA) – 5:56:19
3. Absa Mixed – Kobus Barnard (RSA) & Fienie Barnard (RSA) – 5:59:56
4. Unicef Austria 1 – Anita Waiss (AUT) & Andreas Muhlbacher (AUT) – 6:09:49
5. Adidas-Medsport-Checker Pig – Markus Pielenz (GER) & Sandra Sumerauer (GER) – 6:15:41

OVERALL RESULTS:

MEN:

1. Cannondale Vredestein – Roel Paulissen (BEL) & Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – 29:25:11
2. Bulls – Karl Platt (GER) & Stefan Sahm (GER) – 29:34:25
3. MTN Energade (1) – Kevin Evans (RSA) & David George (RSA) – 29:41:55
4. Dolphin-Trek - Bart Brentjens (NED) & Alban Lakata (AUT) – 29:52:23
5. Alb-Gold Mountainbike – Hannes Genze (GER) & Jochen Kaess (GER) – 29:52:27
6. Full-Dynamix Rsm – Fredrik Kessiakoff (SUI) & Massimo Debertolis (ITA) – 30:24:44
7. Usn/adidas – Brandon Stewart (RSA) & Max Knox (RSA) – 30:45:30
8. Etto Hoydahl (3) – Martin Bratland (NOR) & Kristian Torgersen (NOR) - 31:24:50
9. Etto Hoydahl (2) Rune Hoydahl (NOR) & Ola Kjoren (NOR) – 31:41:01
10. MTN Energade (2) – Mannie Heymans (NAM) & Melt Swanepoel (RSA) – 31:50:02

LADIES:

1. Rocky Mountain – Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN) – 35:04:16
2. Trek/Vw Wsd – Susan Haywood (USA) & Jennifer Smith (NZL) – 36:12:53
3. Scott Contessa – Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA) – 38:14:15
4. Absa Ladies – Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA) – 38:56:48
5. Valhalla – Petruschka Constancon (RSA) & Louise Hemmes (RSA) – 43:49:20

MASTERS:

1. Absa Masters – Doug Brown (RSA) & Barti Bucher (SUI) – 32:54:23
2. Adidas William Simpson – Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA) – 33:03:57
3. Pragma Masters – M.C. Franken (RSA) & Peter Buggle (IRE) – 34:01:13
4. Private Client Holdings – Andrew Johan Cillie (RSA) & Leon Olivier (RSA) – 36:23:13
5. Oracla – Claudio Pellegrini (ITA) & Orazio Casaccio (ITA) – 36:35:00

MIXED:

1. Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja – Ivonne Kraft (GER) & Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) – 35:40:09
2. Cyclelab Toyota – Johan Labuschagne (RSA) & Yolande de Villiers (RSA) – 35:58:28
3. Absa Mixed – Kobus Barnard (RSA) & Fienie Barnard (RSA) – 36:57:46
4. X.O Felt Swiss – Adrian Burri (SUI) & Franziska Roethlin (SUI) – 37:52:17
5. Adidas-Medsport-Checker Pig – Markus Pielenz (GER) & Sandra Sumerauer (GER) – 39:18:12



Visit www.cape-epic.com to view the full results.
 

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director



Dear Mountain Bike Enthusiast,

For the first time since winning the Prologue, the MTN Energade team of Kevin Evans (RSA) and David George (RSA) sprinted first across the finish line in Hermanus for the 6th stage of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas – their first stage win for this year’s event (4:53:01). Stage winners from the day before, the Bulls team of Karl Platt (GER) and Stefan Sahm (GER), secured a second place two seconds later at 4:53:03.They were followed one second later by the overall leaders Cannondale Vredestein, Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), who aggressively defended their yellow jersey honours at a time of 4:53:04.

After encountering numerous problems the day before, including having to ride the final 18km on a rim during Stage 5 (Roel Paulissen) and finishing in fifth position, the Cannondale Vredestein team worked hard to ensure that they hang on to a comfortable overall lead of nine minutes over the Bulls (29:25:11 for Cannondale Vredestein and 29:34:25 for Bulls). MTN Energade will have to work hard to catch up with the Bulls, who enjoy a seven and a half minute advantage (MTN Energade is at 29:41:55). They do however have a ten minute lead over Dolphin Trek, who is in the fourth position with an overall time of 29:52:22.



Mountains give way to ocean views

For Stage 6, Absa Cape Epic participants travelled from Bredasdorp to Hermanus (130km, 2 095m climbing). The start out in Bredasdorp offered fast gravel roads through the surrounding farmland. A rugged warm-up climb followed by a loose descent got riders ready for the day’s big challenge: Salmonsdam Nature Reserve. It was a 14km ascent from around 6% to 12% on rugged jeep track, winding its way through mountain fynbos. The views along the way, as well as the loose and rocky drop down towards the vineyards, made it worth the effort. But the finish line was still far away. A short stretch on tar gave riders a welcome rest before dirt roads and farm tracks headed for the sea. A quick nip over the dunes took riders into the shores of Walker Bay to cross the Stanford River mouth – a knee-deep wade before they reached the spectacular finish at the Old Hermanus Harbour.

Time bonus awarded to Bulls

A Time bonus was once again awarded during Stage 6, similar to Stage 2. This was the first time in the 5-year history of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas that time bonus advantages were introduced at various hotspots in the race. Although time bonuses are common in road stage races, the Absa Cape Epic is the first mountain bike stage race to introduce the concept to mountain biking.

Overall leader Jakob Fuglsang (Cannondale Vredestein) says that they were taking it easier today on the downhill, because they didn't want to risk a flat. “Instead, we went full blast on the uphill,” he says. His teammate Roel Paulissen says that all the participants had to cope with headwinds for the entire day, as well as deal with corrugated road for 40km. “We absolutely hated it as we could only go 17-20 km/h and had to work really hard. We were grateful that we were riding in a group of three strong teams, but it was almost too few riders to share the hard work.” He adds that the beginning of the stage was already tough, but teams had to still cope with a difficult part during the end – a 35 to 40km long washboard killer. “I feel sorry for the amateurs as it was not an easy challenge. Until the first climb we were a group of 50 to 60 riders. Then at the first water point Bart Brentjens stopped so briefly that we had to rush back on our bikes to get to him. I started to attack at the first long climb at Salmonsdam.”

Following this, Fuglsang took the lead, but soon fell behind again and Paulissen waited for him. It was during the downhill that the Bulls team decided to go full blast for the time bonus.

Stefan Sahm (Bulls) says, “At the long climb Roel was attacking really hard. I needed at bit more time at the water point to put oil on my chain and thought ‘please don’t let it be another huge gap that we must close’. Fortunately we could close the gap quite quickly and when we had caught them on top of the mountain we took a risk on the downhill and went full blast. When we arrived on our own at the bottom, we carried on to grab the time bonus.”

MTN Energade was also aiming for the time advantage, but the Bulls team was so fast they couldn’t keep up the pace.

“I was very impressed with David’s performance on that downhill,” says Evans. “He gained so much experience and learnt so much during this last week of the Absa Cape Epic. Four days ago we would have lost four to five minutes on that downhill. Today it was only 60 seconds!”

At the hot spot 3km in front of Water Point 3, the Bulls team were 1.05 min ahead and comfortably won the time bonus, followed by MTN Energade (2nd) and Cannondale Vredestein (3rd). The Bulls team, who won stage 5 the day before, received a 40 second bonus for their victory. MTN Energade in second place welcomed their 20 second time bonus. Overall leaders Cannondale Vredestein gained 10 second from the time bonus to add to their overall lead.

Dolphin-Trek, Bart Brentjens (NED) and Alban Lakata (AUT), together with Full-Dynamix Rsm, Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) and Massimo Debertolis (ITA) and USN/adidas, Brandon Stewart (RSA) and Max Knox (RSA) crossed the hot spot next, but they were already 5:30 minutes behind.

All of the top riders agreed that it was a long ride to the finish and that the race felt tougher than the previous stage.

A homerun for David George

For stage winner David George the victory was not only an emotional high as it was his second win in a Mountainbike race ever (1st was the 2008 Absa Cape Epic Prologue), but the location also played a very special part as he grew up and played in Hermanus a lot as a child. His grandmother still lives here.

Comments Evans: “David actually said eight months ago that he would love to win in Hermanus in front of his family. Winning in such a competitive, world class field makes the victory even sweeter. We are both sure that one of the top riders who come out of the Absa Cape Epic will win the first world cup as they are in such good shape and are getting stronger every day.”

George says that they tried to break away 5km before the finish line. “This was the only stage in which I knew what the last kilometres would look like, because I know Hermanus so well. Our objective was to make the podium and that’s what we achieved today. We’re grateful that the next two days are the shortest, but I don’t think they will be easy though.”

Evans says that if they continue to feel strong and are not struck by bad luck they can make it on the GC podium which would be an amazing success for them. “This will be the first time since 2004 if we do make it. Back in 2004 the race was not so competitive yet”. To date, Evan’s Absa Cape Epic highlight was a third place win in 2005 with Silvio Wieltschnig from Austria.

Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) of Full Dynamix-Rsm, who came in 5th today, says that for the first three days of the Absa Cape Epic he felt good and was very motivated, while his riding partner Massimo Debertolis (ITA) was struggling. “Since this is a team race you just have to stick by your partner. But now it is just the other way around. Yesterday and today I suffered. I can’t ride strong all the way to the finish and if you go on you suffer too much and it is hard to recover from that. So as I weakened Massimo regained his strength which is really frustrating. But we were 5th today and are 6th overall in a world-class field which is a great achievement”.

Rocky Mountain back on top

After settling for the runner-up position for the last two stages (4 and 5) of the Absa Cape Epic, the Rocky Mountain team of Pia Sundstedt (FIN) and Alison Sydor (CAN) were back in top form during Stage 6 to claim top honours in the ladies category (5:45:01). They won the first three stages of this year’s event. It was no surprise therefore that Trek/VW Wsd, Susan Haywood (USA) and Jennifer Smith (NZL), completed their stage race in second place (5:57:21), almost twelve minutes later (after winning Stage 4 and 5). Third was Scott Contessa, Jane Seggie (RSA) and Ischen Stopforth (RSA), not far behind Trek/VW Wsd (6:20:24).

Overall results reveal that Rocky Mountain are still in the lead (35:04:16), and comfortably so with Trek/VW Wsd over an hour behind at 36:12:53, followed by Scott Contessa at 38:14:15, the Ladies division will most likely not provide any surprises in the last two stages. However, leading teams in previous years have learned the lesson that anything can still happen and the race is only over at the finish line in Lourensford.

Rim drama – the sequal

Adidas William Simpson, Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA), claimed their second stage win in this year’s Absa Cape Epic when they completed Stage 6 at a time of 5:29:25. Pragma Masters, M.C. Franken (RSA) and Peter Buggle (IRE), arrived 8 minutes later when they crossed the finish line at 5:37:04. The usual leaders in this category (who up to now won four stages), the Absa Masters, Doug Brown (RSA) and Barti Bucher (SUI), only arrived minutes later at a time of 5:41:45.
 
Similar to Cannondale Vredestein yesterday, the Absa Masters encountered a major wheel problem when a valve went through Doug Brown’s rim cutting his tyre. “Today was the first time that we used this Ambrosio rim made of aluminium and as Murphy’s law would have it, this particular one contained a manufacturing defect,” says Dough Brown. “After this happened, we almost gave up. We sat there for 20 minutes not knowing what to do and whether there was any tech zone nearby. Eventually we heard some cheering and thought we were close to a water point so we pushed on. It turned out that the applause was only locals on the road, but they told us the next vantage point was only 4km away. That gave us a boost of motivation and we carried on. I was riding on my rim and Barti pushed me as we had learned from Cannondale Vredestein. At the vantage point we were rescued from our misery and started chasing Adidas William Simpson. In the end, we only lost 12 minutes. But we are absolutely exhausted.”

Despite only claiming a third place win, Absa Masters are still enjoying an overall lead time of 32:54:23. Adidas William Simpson’s second place overall time of 33:03:57 proves that they will have to work hard during the final two stages if they want to make up the nine minutes difference between them and Absa Masters. With a difference of almost an hour between the second overall team and the Pragma Masters in third place (34:01:13), Absa Masters and Adidas William Simpson will most likely fight it out for the top honours.

One second difference in Mixed category stage race

For the third stage in a row, Joybike-Maloja Express, Ivonne Kraft (GER) and Nico Pfitzernmaier (GER), dominated the Mixed category when they crossed the finish line at a time of 5:56:18 – one second ahead of Cyclelab Toyota, Johan Labuschagne (RSA) and Yolande de Villiers, at (5:56:19). Third was Absa Mixed, Kobus Barnard (RSA) and Fienie Barnard (RSA), at 5:59:56.

The Joybike team still head the Mixed field in the overall results (35:40:09), followed by Cyclelab Toyota (35:58:28), and Absa Mixed (36:57:46).

 

Global village

If you stroll through the Absa Cape Epic race village in the evening, you can hear about 20 different languages as riders from 41 different countries camp ‚door to door’. Riders never know who might end up as their ‚neighbours’ and whether they’d be able to understand each other, because they pick their tents as they come in at every stage. Thus the Absa Cape Epic camp is a little microscopic representation of the world, stretched over a school sports field. The only difference – people treat each other like family.

50-year old Alfredo Montenegro (421-2) from Brazil participates in his first ever Absa Cape Epic. He rides with his friend Paulo Brandão in the Masters category. He enjoys the race tremendously and jokes that it is „very easy.“ His front porch is the centrepoint for the Brazilians joining this year’s race, a total of 16 riders, 6 volunteers and 6 day-trippers. “Some of these guys I knew before the event, others I’ve met here. Now we all sit together in the evenings like we’ve known each other forever,” Montenegro says. He was informed about the Absa Cape Epic through a friend who competed in the event last year together with Brazilian journalist Mario Roma. Other Brazilians saw the Magical and Untamed African Mountain Bike Race on ESPN Brazil. “We watched Renata Falzoni’s show about the Absa Cape Epic and we instantly knew that this would be an adventure of a lifetime. So we signed up for the lottery and we hit the jackpot. Next year, the Brazilians say, they will send more of their Brazilian troops. And they will return themselves, naturally.

Hailing from Johannesburg, South Africa, Roelof van Huyssteen (153-1) and Daniel Prinsloo (153-2) compete in their second Absa Cape Epic. They returned after last year’s inaugural experience, as they wanted to face the challenge one more time. “You actually hate the Epic when you are busy with it, but a few weeks after the event you miss the physical and psychological challenge, the magnificent scenery and the camaraderie,” says van Huyssteen. “You cannot describe the emotions on the last 100 metres in Lourensford. Those moments make up for all the pain and all the deprivation you endured prior to and during the event. You have been in the saddle for 8 days, you are exhausted, but you are so proud of what you have achieved.” Just like last year, their families and friends are accompanying them for the last stages. “They joined us in Bredasdorp last night and cheer us on at every single water point,” says Prinsloo. “You really cannot do this without them. They are part of the training, they have to take a backseat for months, they look after you, encourage you, basically they are your physical and emotional sponsors.” To date, van Huyssteen and Prinsloo had a great Absa Cape Epic experience. “We have been very lucky as we had no hiccups. Both, body and bike survived the strain. However, we didn’t spare a thing, not in terms of money or hours while we prepared ourselves for this event. In fact, we couldn’t have a proper relationship for the past six months, because all our time and finances were dedicated to get us across that final finish line.” Van Huyssteen and Prinsloo have been friends for five years. They are the only two out of their cycling training group that had the guts to ride the Absa Cape Epic. When they signed up for the lottery last year, they got in on their first try and lightning struck twice as they also won a slot this year. Will they also sign up a third time one may wonder? Prinsloo says no and van Huyssteen says “I never say never. Maybe they’ll come up with an exciting new range of adidas Amabubesi apparel next year and I’ll change my mind…”

John Bullens (482-1) and Patrice Vercammen (482-2) from the Netherlands have significant stage race experience, but neither have ridden the Absa Cape Epic before nor have they participated in a stage race together until now. “John is my boyfriend”, says Vercammen, “and he is used to partnering with men for stage races. Riding in the Mixed category with me is actually more difficult for him.” And he adds: “That’s because I cannot go as hard as I am used to and I have to push her at times which actually exhausts me as well.” Bullens has won the Masters category at the 2006 Transrockies Challenge. While his girlfriend would be satisfied to only finish the race, Bullens started to become ambitious seeing the standings after the first two stages. “I am riding at my max now”, says Vercammen who also participated in the 2006 Transrockies Challenge and the 2007 TransGermany in the Ladies category. “In fact, I am riding faster than ever before. But I must admit I’m enjoying it. I don’t think I would like to ride this race in the Ladies category, because it is really tough. I can totally rely on John which gives me that extra boost of confidence.” For Vercammen today’s stage 6 was her best performance so far as the route profile was very similar to what she’s used to at home. “For the first time I had to ride today without pushing her,” says Bullens. Based on the Absa Cape Epic experience, they can foresee participating together in more stage race adventures around the world.

Drawing attention with their tiger-print outfits, it is hard to miss the Afripex ‘Tygirs’. They stick out! The long-sleeve, long-legs outfit is a lot ‘cooler’ than what it looks like. “As soon as you start sweating the fabric cools you down. It can even get a bit cold on cool mornings inside the forest. And, in contrast to everyone else, we don’t have a sunburn problem and we don’t accidentally rub any sunscreen into our eyes as we don’t need it,” says Simon Hough (278-1). For Hough it is the second Absa Cape Epic. This year he also wants to do Transrockies and some other stage races. For his first Absa Cape Epic he rode with a different partner who was much stronger than him, but who was pushing the envelope too far and had to drop out on day 4 due to knee injuries. By himself, Hough completed the remaining stages. This year, he says, the route is much nicer except for the sand sections which he didn’t like at all as they were “hell on your knees. I’d rather climb another mountain or ride another furious downhill.” For his second epic experience, Hough has an ideal partner with whom he has participated in several mountain bike events. “We match well, both on a physical and psychological level.” Yesterday the team enjoyed a great day. “We took it easy and were the mechanics for a lot of people out on route. We helped a Brazilian team, for instance, that broke a derailleur and had no idea how to open the chain. We actually helped them twice that day and when we crossed the finish line after them, because we had also helped a few girls fix their punctured tyres, they were already waiting for us with a couple of cool beers.” Asked what his connection to Afripex was, Hough replies: “I’m the MD. When I climbed in the shower last year and they were awful I said to Kevin Vermaak after the race he must change the boilers and so we became a sponsor and replaced them. There’s still a lot more to be done, but we didn’t have the time this year. For next year I would like to collect the water that is causing flooding around the shower trucks and create changing facilities so that you can undress before you enter the shower. Saying this, I am already looking forward to next year’s race. It may sound crazy, but it’s true.”

Next stop: Elgin (Grabouw)

For Stage 7 – the second last stage challenge of this year’s Absa Cape Epic – riders will find a shorter route, but it will not be easy! Covering 91km and 1 984m of climbing, participants will immediately be faced with the steep tar ascent up Rotary Drive, granting riders scenic views back over the seaside town of Hermanus and Walker Bay. The route descends through Hamilton Russel and heads for Babilonstoring Nature Reserve to navigate the sandy and rocky jeep tracks. After crossing the R44, the next challenge awaits – a loose climb gaining 500m in altitude up to Lebanon Nature Reserve. Then it is singletrack time through the Lebanon forest! A quick dip under the N2 will take riders to some more fast-flowing singletrack. Then they will have to find their way up and down steep vineyeards to their overnight location at Elgin (Grabouw).

Visit www.cape-epic.com for more details and to see where the riders are online during the race.

Watch the Absa Cape Epic highlights daily on Supersort2 at 22h30.

Warm regards,
Sonja Güldner-Hamel
Absa Cape Epic Media Director