STANDER AND SAUSER KINGS OF THE MOUNTAINS
EVANS AND GEORGE FINISH IN SECOND PLACE
The seventh and final stage took riders from Oak Valley/Elgin to Lourensford Wine Estate over a distance of 64km with 1 350m of climbing. Dr. Evil found a new way to the Champs Elysees of mountain biking, again reminding riders that there is no easy day at the Absa Cape Epic. Lourensford Wine Estate awaited the tired athletes as they made their way from Oak Valley over Twin Peaks above the Elgin Dam and down the ever-familiar portage section of Gamtouw Pass. Once again, participants followed the footsteps of the Voortrekkers, their tyres tracing the wagon-wheel grooves down to Journeys End Winery. The last water point offered a final reward, before a last test of resolve – a few steep ascents with magnificent views of False Bay and Table Mountain. Once again, Lourensford Wine Estate hosted the Grand Finale festivities as riders experienced that bittersweet feeling at the end of the arduous, yet epic journey of the Absa Cape Epic.
This year’s Absa Cape Epic saw 1 208 participants starting their Untamed African Mountain Bike Stage Race last Sunday (25 March 2012) at Meerendal Wine Estate, with 1 070 riders at the start chute this morning. Those who finished today (Sunday, 1 April 2012), enjoyed the ultimate reward of receiving the highly sought after finisher t-shirt and medal when they crossed the final finish line at Lourensford Wine Estate.
The 36ONE-Songo-Specialized team of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser walked away with top honours as overall winners of this year’s exciting Absa Cape Epic, following their victory of last year. With a 25 minute and 57 second lead time at the start this morning, Stander and Sauser finished the last 8 days of the Untamed Mountain Bike Race of 781km and 16 300m of climbing in an overall time of 31:46.50,5. In second place in an overall time of 32:14.12,6 were the South African duo of Kevin Evans and David George (360Life), with the German-Swiss team of Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking in third place overall in 32:17.57,5. The Bulls 2 team of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme finished fourth overall (32:18.48,2) with Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen (Topeak Ergo Racing) in fifth (32:19.22,7). The Bulls 1 team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, who won the Absa Cape Epic in 2007, 2009 and 2010, finished in sixth place overall (33:03.00,2).
Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life won the Absa African leader jersey.
Siphosenkosi Madolo and Azukile Simayile of Exxaro Academy 9 won the Exxaro Development jersey.
The South African–Swiss duo, Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser of Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized, dominated this week’s Absa Cape Epic by winning six of the eight-stage challenges. They again proved they are kings of the mountains in a time of 2:35.11,5. Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen of Topeak Ergon Racing finished in second place in 2:36.08,7, with the second team of Songo-Specialized Max Knox and Yamamoto Kohei in third place (2:36.14,9). The Bulls 2 team of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme finished in fourth place in 2:36.22,7 with the South African 360Life team of Kevin Evans and David George in fifth place (2:36.36,3).
Says Burry Stander, of Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized: “We worked hard for this stage and the overall. We will never say no to the opportunity of winning a stage. Twenty-seven minutes is big, but not only thanks to us. Our whole whole team and our equipment played a role. We learnt our lessons in previous years. The Absa Cape Epic is a story. Everyday is a chapter and that makes it so amazing. Now we know the Yellow jersey is ours. Until now it felt like we were borrowing it. Nothing compares to it. I have enough time to recover before the big events of the season start.” Adds Christoph Sauser: “Every year the Cape Epic gets harder, the intensity is much higher. Our equipment made such a big difference. It helped us mentally to know that even though the stage is hard, our equipment will hold. Crossing the finish line here at Lourensford Wine Estate is the best feeling of the whole week. It’s so big for us and good for the confidence and looking forward to the rest of the season our form is great. This is my third victory overall in this race (2011 and 2006), and it’s a great feeling.”
This is the second podium finish for Kevin Evans and David George of 360Life in the history of the race as well as the highest ranking for an all South African team. Says George: “It’s been a fantastic finish and so special to top off the rollercoaster ride in this way. We were prepared and ready with great support and structure, so it was fantastic. Our second spot is testament to the great support and our guts. This year was very tough because of all the mechanical troubles, but we’re very happy.” Adds Evans: “We didn’t win the Absa Cape Epic, but with this Cape Epic we won the hearts and support of South Africa. The support and applause today was very special. It’s thanks to them that we get up every morning and keep on fighting.”
Says Hannes Genze of Multivan Merida Biking, who finished in second place overall last year: “We feel lucky and happy. Andreas was so strong and he helped me so much after my crash today. I thought it was over, but he motivated me to just keep going and not think too much about it. It was a huge effort to finish on the podium. We had to fight for it every day.” Adds Andreas Kugler: “I’m just so relieved and happy to be on the podium and don’t want to think of next year right now. I’m tired and just want to enjoy the feeling.”
The Ladies category was won by Sally Bigham and Esther Süss of Wheels4Life in an overall time of 38:34.11,8, after securing their seventh stage win in this year’s Absa Cape Epic. They were followed by the Biogen Britehouse team of Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler in 39:23.38,6 with Karien van Jaarsveld and Jane Nüssli of MTN Qhubeka in third place overall in 40:09.15,5.
Both Sally Bigham and Esther Süss won the Absa Cape Epic last year, but in the Ladies and Mixed categories respectively. Says Sally Bigham: “It was great and I had a good time. Riding with Esther was a wonderful experience and we’re a good team. On stage 5, I was worried, so it wasn’t easy all the way.” Esther Süss comments: “I’m so happy that this is the finish because it was a hard week. I had a flat with only 1km to go, so I’m just happy to be here safely. It was a wonderful experience with Sally. We had a good week and we’re a strong combination.”
Says Theresa Ralph of Biogen Britehouse: “It was an amazing experience. We knew right from the start that overall victory was out of reach, but we didn’t even think about finishing second either. It was tough, but riding with Nina was great!” Adds Nina Gässler: “This was an unbelievable experience. I still can’t believe we finished second overall! I’m going to become a regular at the Absa Cape Epic. I had so much fun. The Cape Epic was a dream come true.”
Karien van Jaarsveld and Jane Nüssli of MTN Qhubeka finished in third place overall. Says Jane Nüssli: “I’m relieved to be safely at the finish. I enjoyed it a lot. I’m so proud – we worked hard and achieved our goal.” Karien van Jaarsveld adds that the competition was tough. “I’m very happy to have had a good partner.”
Telkom Business Master’s Category
Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers of World Bicycle Relief won the Telkom Business Master’s category in an overall time of 35:35.58,6. They were followed by the Jag Craft team of Adrian Enthoven and Delaney Impey in 37:14.51,2, with the Complete Cyclist team of Warren Squires and Scott Mckenzie in third place overall (39:28.26,9).
Jan Weevers of World Bicycle Relief says: “It feels good to be strong at the finish after all the struggling. I’m so happy with the overall victory and liked racing with Bart. The weather conditions were the hardest to overcome for me. I know how he is and expected some really hard racing, so I enjoyed it.” Adds Bart Brentjens: “This Absa Cape Epic rates as one of the best. I felt strong right to the end and that doesn’t always happen. I really enjoyed winning the Masters category. It feels great!”
Adrian Enthoven of Jag Craft says it was “a grueling Cape Epic, but we were consistent, managed a good finish and are happy.” His partner Delaney Impey adds: “It was tough but we achieved our goal. The weather was the worst part this year.”
The Contego 28E team of Erik and Ariane Kleinhans won the Mixed category in an overall time of 37:33.23,7. They were followed by Udo Boelts and Milena Landtwing of Centurion Vaude in an overall time of 39:41.02,1. Klaas Vanmoortel and Inne Gantois of BAiK-Peak Performance Brugge finished in third place overall in 40:36.40,8.
Ariane Kleinhans of Contego 28E says: “It’s really an amazing feeling. Seeing the 1km mark was almost too much… I’m so happy. To be over the finish line is a huge relief. We wanted the overall win so badly!” Her riding partner and husband, Erik, says: “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves because this was the biggest goal of the year. There’s a lot of relief in the Kleinhans household. You experience all the emotions during the week, but the 1km to go sign was absolutely great!”
Says Udo Boelts of Centurion Vaude: “It was very hard to finish the Absa Cape Epic this year, but riding with Milena was special. In the end I enjoyed the experience and am very happy with second place overall.” Adds Milena Landtwing: “Now that the Absa Cape Epic is over, I can smile and enjoy the feeling. Every day was just so hard and right now I’m just happy to finish. Ask me next week about coming back because it was just so hard.”
Inne Gantois of BAiK-Peak Performance Brugge says the experience was so much more than what they expected. “I enjoyed it immensely and will surely be back for more next year! I’m happy it’s over now, but tomorrow I’ll be sad, I think.” Her partner Klaas Vanmoortel adds: “The Cape Epic exceeded all our expectations, because we wanted a podium finish in one of the stages and we managed a third overall.”