Canadian Cyclist


March 29/08 10:39 am - Cape Epic: Stage 1

Posted by Editoress on 03/29/08

Cape Epic South Africa
Report courtesy organization


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 benefitted from the tough battle of the top teams as they were continiously 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.

Stage 1: Knysna to George, 123km
1. Rocky Mountain (Pia Sundstedt/Alison Sydor)5:44:07
2. Dolphin-Trek MTB Racing (Fabienne Heinzmann/Katrin Schwin5:54:20
3. Trek/VW WSD (Susan Haywood/Jennifer Smith)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
1. Songo.Info (Christoph Sauser/Burry Stander)4:39:35
2. Bulls (Karl Platt/Stefan Sahm)4:40:06
3. Etto Hoydahl (3) - Martin Bratland/Kristian Torgersen)4:44:21
4. Etto Hoydahl (1) (Jo Nordskar/Anders Hovdenes)4:44:43
5. Alb-Gold Mountainbike (Hannes Genze/Jochen Kaess)4:45:38
6. Cannondale Vredestein (Roel Paulissen/Jakob Fuglsang)4:49:15
7. Full-Dynamix Rsm (Fredrik Kessiakoff/Massimo Debertolis)4:51:59
8. Dolphin (Bart Brentjens/Alban Lakata)4:55:54
9. Etto Hoydahl (2) (Rune Hoydahl/Ola Kjoren)5:01:44
10. MTN Energade (2) (Mannie Heymans/Melt Swanepoel)5:03:49
1. Absa Masters (Doug Brown/Barti Bucher)5:06:29
2. Adidas William Simpson (Shan Wilson/Walter Platzgummer )5:08:07
3. Pragma Masters (M.C. Franken /Peter Buggle (IRL)5:34:08
4. Gpsupload.Com (Douw Andrews/Rich Bartlett)5:52:56
5. Oracla (Claudio Pellegrini/Orazio Casaccio)5:56:35
1. Joybike Guided by VMT and Maloja (Ivonne Kraft/Nico Pfitzenmaier)5:46:30
2. X.O Felt Swiss (Adrian Burri/Franziska Roethlin)5:54:10
3. Novatec - CK MTB Dohnany (Janka Stevkova/Tomas Legnavsky)5:56:50
4. Absa Mixed (Kobus Barnard/Fienie Barnard)5:57:20
5. Cyclelab Toyota (Johan Labuschagne/Yolande de Villiers )6:03:20
1. Rocky Mountain (Pia Sundstedt/Alison Sydor)6:27:37
2. Dolphin-Trek MTB Racing (Fabienne Heinzmann/Katrin Schwing)6:39:05
3. Trek/VW WSD (Susan Haywood/Jennifer Smith)6:46:46
4. Absa Ladies (Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens)6:53:06
5. Scott Contessa (Jane Seggie/Ischen Stopforth)6:55:52
1. Songo.Info (Christoph Sauser/Burry Stander)5:12:05
2. Bulls (Karl Platt/Stefan Sahm)5:12:28
3. Etto Hoydahl (3) - (Martin Bratland/Kristian Torgersen )5:18:18
4. Etto Hoydahl (1) (Jo Nordskar/Anders Hovdenes )5:19:09
5. Alb-Gold Mountainbike (Hannes Genze/Jochen Kaess)5:19:22
6. Cannondale Vredestein (Roel Paulissen /Jakob Fuglsang)5:21:17
7. Full-Dynamix Rsm (Fredrik Kessiakoff /Massimo Debertolis)5:25:46
8. Dolphin (Bart Brentjens/Alban Lakata) 5:28:41
9. Etto Hoydahl (2) (Rune Hoydahl /Ola Kjoren )5:36:34
10. MTN Energade (2) (Mannie Heymans/ Melt Swanepoel)5:37:41
1. Absa Masters - Doug Brown/Barti Bucher)5:43:44
2. Adidas William Simpson ( Shan Wilson/Walter Platzgummer)5:44:31
3. Pragma Masters ( M.C. Franken / Peter Buggle)6:12:38
4. Gpsupload.Com (Douw Andrews/Rich Bartlett)6:32:59
5. Oracla (Claudio Pellegrini /Orazio Casaccio)6:37:01
1. Joybike Guided by VMT and Maloja (Ivonne Kraft/Nico Pfitzenmaier)6:26:45
2. X.O Felt Swiss (Adrian Burri/ Franziska Roethlin)6:36:43
3. Novatec - CK MTB Dohnany (Janka Stevkova/Tomas Legnavsky)6:38:27
4. Absa Mixed (Kobus Barnard/Fienie Barnard )6:39:59
5. Cyclelab Toyota (Johan Labuschagne /Yolande de Villiers)6:43:45


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