THIRD STAGE WIN FOR SAUSER AND KULHAVY OF BURRY STANDER – SONGO
BULLS PLATT AND HUBER IN SECOND PLACE OVERALL
The fifth day was like a bonus day – short, sweet and, most importantly, great fun! Riders already had a taste of the Bain’s MTB Trails at Welvanpas on the day before. It was a fantastic purpose-built network of single-track, perched between the Wellington vineyards and the slopes of Bain’s Kloof. The relatively short distance of 75 kilometers offered more single-track than any previous Absa Cape Epic stage, featuring some amazing cross-country terrain and lots of twisting ups and downs – all in all an extra enjoyable day to re-energise body and mind. To avoid any congestion on the trails, the start groups were staggered over 1,5 hours.
Stage 4 started with cool temperatures in the morning. It was a fast stage with lots of single-track. There was an early breakaway by Rene Haselbacher and Wolfgang Krenn of ASRIN RH77 and they stayed in the lead until the Telkom Hot Spot. After the Hot Spot, Sauser and Kulhavy took the lead and powered on, increasing the gap over the course of the stage.
Teams Multivan Merida, Bulls and Bulls 2 missed a route marker. After following what they thought was the correct route, their path intersected stage 5’s route, which was already marked, and they then continued to follow stage 5’s route markers, and thought that this was today’s course.
Another tough day here at the Absa Cape Epic. I had another rough night in the tent, visiting my NBF Mr. Porter Loo a couple more times. We really have bonded over the last couple of days. I felt ok on the bike today, legs were good but the tummy forced me off the trail a couple times leaving me a little tired at the end of the grueling 120km’s. The 40 degree heat did not help matters either.
Day 4 and stage 3 is done. We have officially reached the half way mark of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic. The riders were treated with a fun route today. The tour of the Tulbach ‘bowl’ and its sweeping single track was meet with huge smiles, until the searing heat started to takes its toll. Man, it got hot out there today, with more heat forecast for the following days. The organisers called today a ‘recovery’ day but it was as tough as ever, with quite a few riders not making the 8 hour cut off time. This was mostly due to the enormous amount of climbing we had to do in the final 18km’s.
The race started at a quite a high tempo with swollen groups of riders keeping the pace up. José Hermida and Rudi Van Houts (Multivan Merida) had a puncture quite early in the race, which killed their chances of a podium finish. Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Burry Stander – SONGO) attacked quite hard today and the only riders that could follow were Karl Platt and Urs Huber of the Bulls. Sauser and Kulhavy eventually broke free and were in the lead by 2 minutes and 45 seconds when they took a wrong turn and lost some time. Platt won his fourteenth Absa Cape Epic stage.
So, that was tough, but we got through the longest day of this years Epic. I awoke in the middle of the night with a cracking headache, nausea and in a cold sweat. Not ideal when you have 146km and over 2000m of climbing to deal with. I managed to get a couple mouth fulls of oats in at breakfast, hoping that I would feel fine but alas, 10km into the first 18km climb, yes 18km, I knew I was in for a long day. I simply had nothing in the tank, with the feeling of nausea not helping at all.
The temperature during stage 2 was ideal and not as hot as during stage 1. It was less sandy and a fast rolling stage with exciting racing. The course was particularly rugged and there were two major casualties in the pro-field – the first being the yellow zebra leader jersey and the second José Hermida picking up a five-inch nail. He had to repair it to get him to the next tech zone for a wheel change. This cost the team over 11 minutes at the end of the day. Riding at the front were Karl Platt and Urs Huber as well as Jaroslav Kulhavy and Christoph Sauser, until Kulhavy broke his chain. They lost a few minutes repairing the chain and in the process broke the chain tool. With a bit of improvisation, they managed to get it back together again, but lost 9 minutes in the process.
The Epic started in earnest today. As history shows, stage 1 of the Epic is usually a beast, and this year was no different. It was the toughest 96km I have ever had on a bike. People often exaggerate these kinds of statements, but honestly, it was brutal.
I have no issue with sand on a beach, really I dont, but I have a massive beef with it when I have to try ride through it. Today I think that I would have preferred to ride my bike up and down Camps Bay beach for 6 hours, at least there would have be some scantly clad ladies to numb the pain.