The top three places and 9 of the top 12 were all bagged by riders with Absa Cape Epic pedigrees.
The winner and new world champion was Tiago Ferreira of Portugal, who finished fifth in the 2016 Absa Cape Epic.
Second and third on the 90km course were Topeak Ergon teammates Alban Lakata of Austria and the Czech Republic’s Kristian Hynek. Lakata – who has finished second, third, fourth and fifth at the Absa Cape Epic – finished just 19 seconds behind Ferreira. Hynek won the race in 2014.
The rugged course in the southern French town included a whopping 3 130m of vertical gain and claimed several victims. One of these was two-times Absa Cape Epic winner Jaroslav Kulhavy, who retired while in the lead bunch at 60km with a gash in the sidewall of his front tyre. It was his second puncture of the ride.
Similar problems befell three-times Cape Epic Women’s category winner Annika Langvad and she limped home in ninth place after wheel and chain complications. The women’s race was won by Swiss youngster Jolanda Neff while Epic veterans and former winners Sally Bigham of Britain and Ariane Kleinhans of Switzerland were second and fourth respectively.
Other names familiar to Epic fans in the men’s top 12 were fifth-placed Italian Samuel Porro (third at the Cape Epic this year), seventh-placed Austrian Daniel Geismayr (ninth at the Cape Epic), eighth-placed Jochen Kaess, 10th-placed Markus Kaufmann of Germany and then Swiss Lukas Fluckiger and Austrian Hermann Pernsteiner in eleventh and twelfth.