Posted by Editoress on 03/26/07
Absa Cape Epic South Africa
Photos from Frank Bodenmüller - www.mtbsector.com
Riders Complete Toughest Climbing Stage of Absa Cape Epic
The first three days of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic, presented by adidas, have made for arguably the hardest start yet in the history of the race. 81 riders have already received a blue number board, meaning that they can ride the race but cannot be listed in the classification as they did not meet the cut off time in stage two. Nevertheless, spirits are high in the camp, with participants, particularly the top riders, agreeing that this is the best race yet, in terms of organisation, route structure and, most importantly, food.
Riders bid farewell to Oudtshoorn at 7:00am this morning, as they embarked on the third stage, faced with the toughest day of climbing, totalling 2 425 metres. This, after completing yesterday's gruelling 132 kilometres, considered to be the most physically taxing stage of this year's race. Weather conditions were perfect today with mild temperatures, clear skies and a slight breeze.
Ruthless Fiellie's Folly
Today, the Absa Cape Epic route, designed by Leon Evans, took riders from Oudtshoorn to Ladismith through arid, ostrich country. A fast jeep track made for a high-speed start to the day, which was soon replaced by a crawling pace as the riders hit Fiellie's Folly, a ruthless ascent of 430 metres at an average climb of 14 percent. Riders were then rewarded with one of the most enjoyable descents of the race Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 30 kilometres of swift, open riding towards the next looming obstacle cheerfully dubbed the Calitzdorp Crusher. After completing the Crusher's three steep kilometres of loose, stony track, they descended only to find themselves at the base of another climb up the Huis Rivier Pass. The final 35 kilometre stretch provided exhausted riders, graded, open roads and the exquisite scenery of Seweweekspoort, as they catapulted towards the finish line in Ladismith.
Johann Pallhuber and Rupert Rheeder drop out of race
Team Cannondale-Vredestein 1 clinched their second stage win and maintained their overall lead today as team members Roel Paulissen (B) and Jakob Fuglsang (DK) clocked a remarkable time of four hours, fifty-six minutes and 8.4 seconds. Their closest competitors, Team Bulls, were hot on the leaders' tracks, coming in only three minutes behind them. With Ralph Näf (Sui) and Jose Hermida (Esp) of Team Multivan Merida Biking 1 and Bart Brentjens (Ned) and Rudi van Houts (Ned) of Team Dolphin Mountainbike still securing positions in the top five, it's still anyone's guess as to who the overall winners will be. Today's stage also saw the first top riders crossing the finish line without their racing partners. Defending champion Christoph Sauser (Sui), Kashi Leuchs (NZl), and South Africa's road legend David George (RSA) received a time penalty of three hours as they left their team partners behind in order to race with the top. "Last night Johann and I decided to ride at our own pace" says Sauser. "I think the last two days have squeezed everything out of him and really pushed his limits. For me it was fun to ride with the leaders today even though I stayed at the back in order not to influence the race." From tomorrow Christoph Sauser will team up with David George, following today's drop out of their partners, Johann Pallhuber (Ita) and Rupert Rheeder (RSA) respectively. According to the rules of the Absa Cape Epic, riders who have lost their team mate during the race are permitted to partner with a new rider in order to complete it. These new teams, however, will not be classified.
Tomorrow, speed skills will come into play as the route eases off on climbing, and beefs up on fast, open road riding. Jose Hermida of Team Multivan Merida Biking 1 says of the race thus far: "I enjoyed today's stage the most, so far. The scenery, the views and the mountains were beautiful, even if you had to suffer for it. It was one of those days when you are really proud to be a mountain biker because you get to see places that many other people will never see. Of course you see the back of your enemies in front of you too. When we came here, we said we didn't want to burn the engine on the first day. We want to progress throughout the race and I think we're slowly getting there."
Team Raleigh MTN Energade 1 with Kevin Evans (RSA) and Brandon Stewart (RSA) defended the jersey of the Best African Team today, placing 9th with a time of 5 hours, 18 minutes and 52.8 seconds. They are now ranked at 7th position overall.
Taking their first stage win in the Masters category were Linus van Onselen (RSA) and Doug Brown (RSA) of Team Absa Masters who came in with a final time of five hours, thirty-eight minutes and 48.2 seconds. They are now eight and a half minutes behind the leading team Cycle lab with Andrew Mclean and Damian Booth.
Team IMC/Mongoose consisting of South Africans Yolande Speedy (RSA) and Paul Cordes (RSA) clinched the top spot today in the mixed classification for the second day in a row, maintaining their overall lead by nearly twenty minutes.
Stage 3: Oudtshoorn to Ladismith, 128km
1. Cannondale/Vredestein 1 (Roel Paulissen (Bel)/Jakob Fuglsang (Den), 4:56:08
2. Team Bulls (Karl Platt (Ger)/Stefan Sahm (Ger), at 3:47
3. Multivan Merida (Ralph Näf (Sui)/Jose Hermida (Esp), 9:00
4. Trek Volkswagen (Alban Lakata (Aus)/Roman Peter (Sui), 12:01
5. Team Dolphin (Bart Brentjens (Ned)/Rudi van Houts (Ned), 14:22
1. IMC/Mongoose (Yolande Speedy (RSA)/Paul Cordes (RSA), 5:49:29
2. Maloja-BTS Time for Travel Ivonne Kraft (Ger)/Nico Pfitzenmaier (Ger), at 6:38
3. ABSA PRO MIXED (GeddanRuddock (RSA)/Jean Ann McKirdy (Can), 16:29
1. Absa Masters (RSA) 5:38:48
2. Cycle Lab, 5:44:56
3. Miles For Marrow, 5:56:27
34. Crazy Canucks (Andrew Hunt/John Thompson) 7:15:26
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