Absa Cape Epic stage 4 report

Winning for a second time in a row, Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser and his South African team mate Burry Stander (Songo-Specialized by DCM) moved into 3rd in the overall standings. Their winning time of 3:33.01 was too fast for 2nd place German Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm who finished in 3:34.24. In 3rd place were the South African/Austrian duo of Kevin Evans and Alban Lakata (team MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon) in a time of 3:34.32.

The Bulls team are still in the overall lead and ahead by 6 minutes and 18,2 seconds (17:04.21,2). Team MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon have made an impressive comeback after yesterday’s technical problems and are now in second position overall (17:10.39,4), and Songo-Specialized by DCM claimed the third position overall after Stage 4 (17:12.41,3). The Flückiger brothers, Lukas and Mathias, of team Trek World Racing are in fourth place overall having moved up from the 6th position in a time of 17:20.48,8.

Says Burry Stander of Songo-Specialized by DCM: “We were all still together at Water Point 3 today as all the teams are battling for the Leader jersey. But Christoph kept attacking, attacking, attacking and I think the other teams could just not hang on any longer. When we hit the last saddleback, it was quite easy to break away.” Adds Sauser: “I felt very good today. I looked at the stage profile yesterday and knew it was going to be a cross-country stage which is really our strength. It would be great if we could ride like this every day. Tomorrow’s trail ride will also work in our favour because cross-country riders can ride hard from the start. Hopefully we’ll be feeling good and not too tired. This is also a mental game and you have to be prepared to suffer. I don’t like gradual climbs – it’s always the same – up, up, up. As long as I have small downhills in between, I’m okay. We’ll also have to be careful that we don’t have mechanical problems – it’s always such a fine line.”

According to Karl Platt of the Bulls Team, Sauser and Stander put on the pressure early on in the stage. “Christoph and Burry tried to outdistance us today with brute force. We managed to stay with them for some time, but once in a while we had to let go and catch up with them afterwards. It was a really stressful day – the terrain was extremely difficult. But if we only lose one or one and a half minutes in the upcoming days, that’s okay.”

Kevin Evans of Team MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon, reckons Songo-Specialized by DCM had it easy for the first three days. “We’ve been fighting for the last three days, especially with our bad luck yesterday when Alban had to run for 2km to cross the finish line. Christoph and Burry pushed very hard today – even the Bulls could not follow in the end. But we’re only halfway and anything can still happen. Tomorrow’s time trial will also suit us. Hopefully we can recover and sleep a bit later tomorrow so that we’re well rested. We’re in a good position.” Lakata says that his legs were not in top form during Stage 4. “My legs were quite sore today. We’re still focusing on the Leader jersey and are still in good shape. With 4 stages to go, anything can happen and we’re definitely still in the running to win the race. Today we only had problems with our legs – riding on the rim yesterday cost a lot of energy, and stages 2 and 3 were hard on us. We hope we don’t have any major punctures and mechanicals from now on. Kevin has a lot of experience with the time trail and we’ll definitely try our best. It’s a short but challenging course which I think will suit us.”

Jose Hermida of Multivan Merida 2, who finished in fourth place today (3:38.18,9) and is in tenth position overall, says the spirit of the Absa Cape Epic is what keeps him going. “Every afternoon after the stage you ask yourself why you’re doing this, only to get up the next morning, see all the smiling faces and feel motivated again. It was lovely to finish at the Worcester school today and have all the kids cheering us on – it really motivated us and created a fantastic atmosphere.”

The Flückiger brothers, Mathias and Lukas, finished in fifth place today, and are fourth overall (17:20.48,8). Says Lukas: “We’re happy with our results and are in a stable position. We ride for a stage win every day, but today our legs weren’t great. We’ll try again tomorrow.”

DCM Chrome defends African leader jersey

Max Knox and Brandon Stewart of DCM Chrome finished in eighth place today (3:41.36,0) and are in the eleventh place overall (17:47.31,6). They took the African Leader jersey from Mannie Heymans and Marc Bassingthwaigthe (Garmin adidas) yesterday and also defended it today.

Says Max Knox of DCM Chrome: “Today’s stage was definitely a lot harder than we thought. The conditions were difficult and it was very windy, but we’re happy with our African leader jersey. We stayed with the leaders for as long as we could, and then had our own race.”

Images courtesy sportzpics.net