Posted by Editoress on 03/27/07
Absa Cape Epic South Africa
Photos from Frank Bodenmüller - www.mtbsector.com
Ralph Näf and Jose Hermida Win 4th Stage of Absa Cape Epic
Team Multivan Merida Biking Team 1 have clinched their first stage win in the fourth stage of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic. Team members Ralph Näf (Switzerland) and Jose Hermida (Spain) crossed the finish line in Barrydale at around 11.00am, having clocked a winning stage time of four minutes and seven seconds. Their closest competitors, Karl Platt (Germany) and Stephan Sahm (Germany) of Team Bulls came in just nine seconds behind them.
Today's route kicked off at 7:00 am in Ladismith, with the riders covering 121 kilometres of tarred roads and farm roads, short climbs and a few technical obstacles. They then moved through the Leopard Rock game reserve and passed well known landmark, Ronnie's Sex Shop, where sandy jeep tracks and wildlife are visible. Then it is onto more rocky terrain for the final 30km into Barrydale. The total climb of the day added up to a total of 1 285 metres,
"It was our best day today but it was also the toughest because we were pushing so hard from the start to the finish. We actually planned it this way. The South Africans rode a phenomenal race as they maintained their lead up until the final 20 kilometres of the race. We were sharing the lead work within our group today, with Karl Platt (Germany) and Stefan Sahm (Germany) with whom we stayed together up until the finish", says Näf of today's stage.
Kevin Evans (RSA) and Brandon Stewart (RSA) of Team Raleigh MTN Energade 1, wearing the bright red leader jerseys of the best African Team in the race, were really disappointed, because they had attacked early in the race and maintained a lead of over 2 minutes for more than 70 kilometres. "When Multivan Merida and Bulls caught us 20 kilometres in front of the finish it was hard, but we still thought we made it onto the podium. However, when Roel and Jakob passed us on the last five kilometres, I was devastated. We were riding with 25 km/h average speed on a climb and they were literally flying past us. After having worked so hard for a podium place that was a real disappointment."
Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) David George (RSA), who both rode in Specialized Team colours today, crossed the finish line third, however, were not listed in the official results as they had formed a new team after their partners had withdrawn after Stage 3.
Roel Paulissen (Belgium) and Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark) were officially placed third and maintained their overall lead with a gap of three minutes and twenty two seconds. Paulissen comments: "Today we were struck by bad luck. We had three punctures, the first just before the second water point and our third time our wheel got ripped. This delayed us by three minutes. While the other two teams ahead of us could share the work, we were on our own today on the final stretch to the finish."
1. Multivan Merida (Ralph Näf (Sui)/Jose Hermida (Esp), 4:07:52
2. Team Bulls (Karl Platt (Ger)/Stefan Sahm (Ger),4:08:01
3. Cannondale/Vredestein 1 (Roel Paulissen (Bel)/Jakob Fuglsang (Den), 4:11.33,8
4. RALEIGH MTN ENERGADE (Kevin Evans (RSA)/Brandon Stewart (RSA), 4:12:57
5. Team Stevens (Johannes Sickmueller (Germany)/RenÃƒÂ© Birkenfeld (Germany), 4:14:49
1. IMC/Mongoose (Yolande Speedy (RSA)/Paul Cordes (RSA), 4:46:32
2. ABSA PRO MIXED (GeddanRuddock (RSA)/Jean Ann McKirdy (Can), 4:47:18
3. Maloja-BTS Time for Travel Ivonne Kraft (Ger)/Nico Pfitzenmaier (Ger), 4:54:17
Full results HERE
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