Team 360Life’s Kevin Evans and David George received a welcome boost in their quest to become the first South Africans to win the ABSA Cape Epic when they claimed the first two places overall at the Columbia Grape Escape, which ended in Franschhoek today.
The pair crossed the finish line first together in a time of two hours, 19 minutes and 16 seconds at the end of the tough 67km final stage of the three-day event, which started in Cape Town on Friday. George was given first place in the results, but it was Evans, the current South African marathon champion, who captured the overall race victory.
Karl Platt, a four-time winner of the ABSA Cape Epic, finished third on the stage 1min 18sec behind the 360Life pair, who the German had successfully beaten on his way to winning the first two stages on Friday and Saturday. But Platt’s slim lead of one second over Evans and 10 seconds over George going into Sunday’s final stage was certainly vulnerable.
“We couldn’t risk another sprint finish like yesterday, so we had to put in a proper gap if we were to threaten Karl’s lead today,” explained an elated Evans. “And Dave was really strong today, which made it possible for us to put Karl under pressure on the climbs.”
By the top of the first major climb the lead group was down to just Platt, Evans and George, although Evans could see that Platt was in trouble.
“I saw Karl scratching on that first climb so we just repeated the tactic on the next two climbs and it was on the third major climb where the decisive split happened. Dave turned the screws even tighter on that climb and Karl simply couldn’t hold that pace and started to drop off. I sat on Karl’s wheel for a while and then jumped away from him when I saw the gap was sizeable enough and joined Dave up front.”
George and Evans then worked together to set a fast pace on their way to the finish where they were able to take the time to enjoy the victory and the confidence boost it brought.
“Besides being great for me to win again after recovering from my appendix episode, our performance shows that we’re on track with our preparation for the Cape Epic at the end of the month. Eight weeks ago I couldn’t imagine myself winning a race again so soon, but I’m happy to take it! It was also good to give our sponsor, 360Life, Nedbank’s innovative life insurance product, confidence in our ability to race successfully as a team in a stage race.
Evans underwent an emergency appendectomy in December, which forced him to take an extended break from training during a crucial Cape Epic base-building phase.
“Psychologically, winning is important in building confidence, especially against some of world-class riders that were here. The conditions were also similar to what we’ll experience at the Cape Epic so we were also able to fine-tune our bikes, equipment and nutrition. But there are many variables in the Cape Epic so we’re being realistic about this result and seeing it simply as a sign that our preparation is on track,” said Evans.
Columbia Grape Escape
Stage 3: 67km
1 David George (Team 360Life) 02hr 19min 16sec
2 Kevin Evans (Team 360Life) same time
3 Karl Platt (Team Bulls) @ 1min 18sec
Final General Classification:
1 Kevin Evans (Team 360Life) 08hr 26min 33sec
2 David George (Team 360Life) @ 10sec
3 Karl Platt (Team Bulls) @ 1min 17sec
Source: Release Centre