Posted by Editoress on 03/25/07
Absa Cape Epic South Africa
Photos from Frank Bodenmüller - www.mtbsector.com
After an all-too-short rest, Absa Cape Epic riders set off on the second and longest stage of this year's race, with the much-appreciated support and encouragement of the Uniondale community. Twelve hundred riders, each donning their team colours, made for a spectacular sight as they gathered at the Uniondale High School at 7.00am this morning for the start of the race.
Today's men's race saw yesterday's second place team, Cannondale-Vredestein 1, coming in first, with Roel Paulissen (Belgium) and Jakob Fugslang (Denmark) clocking a time of 4 hours, fifty-eight minutes and 24.6 seconds, making them today's winners and the overall leaders in the race so far. Only three minutes behind them, were yesterday's winners, Karl Platt (Germany) and Stefan Sahm (Germany) of Team Bulls with a time of five hours, thirty-one minutes and 35.3 seconds. Third and fourth places were clinched by the usual suspects, Bart Brentjens (Netherlands) and Rudi van Houts (Netherlands) of Team Dolphin Mountainbike and Ralph Näf (Switzerland) and Jose Hermida (Spain) of Team Multivan Merida Biking 1, respectively.
After yesterday's brutal first stage, today riders completed the longest route of this year's race, covering the endless 132 kilometres between Uniondale and Oudtshoorn. The first 40 kilometres followed the meandering Kamanassie River and gave riders the opportunity to steel themselves for the back-breaking Kamanassie Reserve - 35 kilometres worth of tough off-road riding. The exquisite scenery of the reserve carried riders through as they battled a 12 kilometre ascent up loose, rocky jeep tracks, the distance compounded by a full 800 metre climb. The route then cut through the Buffelsdrif Game Reserve, treating riders to their first glimpses of game - elephant, rhino and buffalo. Once at the high point for the day, 1 300 metres above sea level, riders had a short respite before being blindsided with the ironically named Stairway to Heaven - a hellish 1 kilometre stretch, climbing a massive 169 metres. Their technical skills were then pushed to the limit by a steep, loose and treacherous downhill track, taking them towards the final 50 kilometre stretch into Oudtshoorn. Potentially a fast and fun road race-type section, cross winds made this final sweep merciless, as some riders began to suffer from dehydration.
Today's Masters winners and overall leaders were South Africans Andrew Mclean (RSA) and Damian Booth (RSA) of Team Cycle Lab, with Linus van Onselen (RSA) and Doug Brown (RSA) of Team Absa coming in second. Top South African female riders, Anke Erlank (RSA) and Yolande de Villiers (RSA) of Team Duravit came in at just over six hours securing the stage win and the coveted overall leaders position, with a time advantage of almost one hour.
Yolande Speedy (RSA) and Paul Cordes (RSA) of Team IMC/Mongoose successfully defended their leader jersey finishing in 20th place overall with a time of 5 hours, 53 minutes and 11,3 seconds. Ivonne Kraft (Germany), who placed 7th at the last Olympic Games, and her team partner, Nico Pfitzenmaier (Germany), used the technical stage today to move up one place to second position in the overall ranking.
Tomorrow, psychological focus, stamina and strength of mind will really come into play as riders are assaulted by a third ruthless day of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas. There will be no quarter for the exhausted participants as they are faced with a massive 128 kilometres, punctuated with Fielie's Follie and the Calitzdorp Crusher - two intensely steep climbs, with the former ascending at an average of 14 percent.
1. Cannondale/Vredestein (Roel Paulissen (Bel)/Jakob Fuglsang (Den) 4:58:24
2. Team Bulls (Karl Platt (Ger)/Stefan Sahm (Ger) ,at 3:11
3. Team Dolphin (Bart Brentjens (Ned)/Rudi van Houts (Ned), 4:09
4. Multivan Merida (Ralph Näf (Sui)/Jose Hermida (Esp), 13:22
5. Trek Volkswagen (Alban Lakata (Aus)/Roman Peter (Sui), 14:24
1. IMC/Mongoose (Yolande Speedy (RSA)/Paul Cordes (RSA), 5:53:11
2. Maloja-BTS Time for Travel Ivonne Kraft (Ger)/Nico Pfitzenmaier (Ger), at 1:28
3. ABSA PRO MIXED (GeddanRuddock (RSA)/Jean Ann McKirdy (Can), 5:36
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