MONDAY 16 JULY 2007SOUTH AFRICANS GET HISTORIC PODIUM FINISH AT TRANSALP
South Africans Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart produced a superb display of stamina, strength and guts when they finished third on Stage 3 of the 2007 Jeantex BIKE Transalp, the toughest mountain bike stage race in Europe.
As if the 94.4km stage, which included 2252 metres of vertical ascent through the Italian Dolomites, wasn’t tough enough for the Raleigh MTN Energade pair, they still had to sprint for third place! They become the first South African team ever to finish on the podium in a stage of the Transalp, a gruelling eight-day 629km race, which includes more than 20000 metres of climbing.
“It was a very hard stage today. In the first 30km we climbed more than 1600 metres,” said a weary, but smiling Evans. “We tried to stay with the top teams on the climbs, but were just unable to match their pace and dropped off about 8km from the summit of the last mountain.”
The remaining 64km was fast and rolling, but into a stiff headwind and the South African pair, racing as an invited team courtesy of their ‘top African team finish’ at the 2007 Absa Cape Epic, managed to make up a few places and raced most the stage in tandem with the German pair of Team Texpa-Simpion (Alexander Psheidl and Christian Schneidawind), who they managed to pip across the finish line in a time of 3hr45min40sec.
The third place on the stage moved Evans and Stewart up to fifth overall, after having been seventh at the start of the day.
Team Fiat Rotwild – Andreas Strobel (GER) and Silvio Wieltshnig (AUT), won the stage in 3:36:54, after outsprinting overall leaders, the German pair of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls), who earlier this year won the Absa Cape Epic.
Another South African pair, Max Knox and Oliver Munnik (Adidas William Simpson), finished ninth in 3:51:55 on Monday’s stage and are now 14th overall. And in the Master’s category, the South African Adidas William Simpson pair of Doug Brown and Shan Wilson were second on Stage 4 and are also now second on the General Classification in that category.
On Tuesday, the riders face 67.5km from Brixen to St. Vigil, a stage short in distance but made brutal by the 3012 metres of climbing through the Dolomites.
“Tomorrow we’ll take a more conservative approach,” said Evans, the current South African Elite champion. “We’re only 40 seconds off the fourth-placed team so will see if we can stay with them, rather than with the top couple of teams like we did today. We could even move up a place if everything goes well, but there are still five more days and anything can happen.”
Stewart is recovering from a series of illnesses, but appears to over them now and according to Evans, is becoming stronger daily, which bodes well for the team’s aspirations of a top-5 finish.
The Transalp finishes on Saturday. For more information and detailed results, visit www.bike-transalp.de2007 Jeantex BIKE TransalpStage 3 Mayrhofen–Brixen 94.4km, 2222m ascentLeading resultsOpen Men
1 Fiat Rotwild: Andreas Strobel – GER / Silvio Wieltshnig – AUT 3hrs36min54.2sec
2 Team Bulls: Karl Platt – GER / Stefan Sahm – GER 3:36:54.2
3 Adidas Raleigh/MTN/Energade: Kevin Evans – RSA / Brandon Stewart – RSA 3:54:40.0
4 Team Texpa-Simpion: Alexander Pscheidl – GER / Christian Schneidawind – GER 3:45:40.4
5 Adidas-Fuji-DT Swiss: Thomas Wallner – AUT / Markus Stock – AUT 3:47:26
9 Adidas William Simpson: Max Knox – RSA / Oliver Munnik – RSA 3:51:55Masters
1 Team KTM: Ekkehard Dorschlag – AUT / Heinz Zorweg – AUT 3:45:41
2 Adidas William Simpson: Shan Wilson – RSA / Doug Brown – RSA 3:51:59
3 Val Di Fiemme: Piergiorgio Dellagiacoma – ITA / Gianfranco Degiampietro – ITA 4:01:19General Classification after Stage 3Open Men
1 Team Bulls: Karl Platt – GER / Stefan Sahm – GER 10:51:44
2 Fiat Rotwild: Andreas Strobel – GER / Silvio Wieltshnig – AUT @ 5:37
3 Team Texpa-Simpion: Alexander Pscheidl – GER / Christian Schneidawind – GER @ 32:45
4 Adidas-Fuji-DT Swiss: Thomas Wallner – AUT / Markus Stock – AUT @ 59:31
5 Adidas Raleigh/MTN/Energade: Kevin Evans – RSA / Brandon Stewart – RSA @ 1:01:11
14 Adidas William Simpson: Max Knox – RSA / Oliver Munnik – RSA @ 1:26:30 Masters
1 Team KTM: Ekkehard Dorschlag – AUT / Heinz Zorweg – AUT 11:28:55
2 Adidas William Simpson: Shan Wilson – RSA / Doug Brown – RSA @ 50:26
3 Sponser Sport Food: Barti Bucher – SUI / Renato Burch – SUI @ 58:21