During the sixth stage of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek, on the last day of his career as a professional mountain biker, Silvio Bundi from Switzerland learned an important lesson.
If you want to end your career as a professional mountain biker on a high note, do not tease one of your main rivals because they have not been able to win a stage. You might just be the one who end up finishing second.
Kevin Evans and Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN-Energade) won the sixth stage from Calitzdorp to George in 4 hours 27 minutes and 27 seconds. Bundi and Christoph Sauser (Specialized-Songo.Info) were second and Max Knox and Thomas Zahnd (DCM) third, all in the same time.
Knox and Zahnd were the overall winners of the tour.
The sixth stage was one of the really special DCM Cape Pioneer treats, because the riders were allowed to ride through a WWF Cape leopard nature reserve where no motor vehicles were allowed for seven years,
There is story to be told about Evans and Niyonshuti’s stage victory.
It was no surprise that the stage boiled down to a sprint between the three teams that have dominated the DCM Cape Pioneer from day one.
The events that took place during the last few kilometers could be described as a high-speed chess game that was played out on wheels.
When Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN-Energade) attacked, Christoph Sauser (Specialized-Songo.Info) immediately got onto his wheel.
That left Kevin Evans (MTN-Energade) and Bundi to battle it out to decide who would win the stage, because in a mountain bike tour it is always the second rider of the team across the line that counts.
There were two reasons why Evans was not going to allow Bundi to rob him of a stage win.
The first reason was that Evans was caught napping by the Swiss in the sprint to the line at De Rust, which led to Sauser and Bundi winning despite the fact that Niyonshuti was the first rider across the line.
Evans promised his teammate that he would make it up to him, and he never goes back on his word.
The second reason for Evans’ determination to win the stage was that, during the usual good-natured banter between the riders the morning at breakfast, Bundi unwittingly motivated him.
Bundi’s mistake was to point out to Evans that they were the only one of the top-three teams who has not managed to win a stage. In doing so he touched a raw nerve.
“Going into the stage we definitely had something to prove.
“The sprint to the line worked out perfectly for us. I knew that I had to be ahead of Silvio going into the last corner, because then there would be no way that he could outsprint me.
“As far as I am concerned it is a well-deserved victory. I am glad that I was able to play a small part in what is certainly one of Adrien’s biggest victories as a professional cyclist.”
An interesting statistic mentioned by Evans is that the winning time for the six day DCM Cape Pioneer is exactly the same as that for the nine day Cape Epic – 28 hours 08 minutes and 25 seconds. This is proof that the DCM Cape Pioneer’s standard is on par with that of other international mountain bike tours.
Bundi made it clear that he enjoyed every moment of the six days of racing.
“It is an amazing race and the fact that I will not ride as a professional any longer, does not mean that the South African riders will not see me again. I will still be involved in mountain biking and I promise that I will be back to enjoy myself.”
At the prize-giving ceremony he had a special warning for his teammate, Sauser.
He told the audience that Sauser’s one weakness is chocolates and that he is really worried about what would happen to him once he stops cycling.
To prove his point, he displayed an image on the projector of Sauser as a cyclist and then, to everybody’s enjoyment, the next image on the projector was that of an inactive, very fat Sauser. The message was clear – beware of chocolates.
Knox, who made South African mountain biking history by winning two tours in nine days, was relieved that, at long last, he could get off his mountain bike.
“I could not have asked for a better finish to my season than first winning the Three Towers Tour in the Lowveld and now the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek.
“But for the next few weeks I don’t want to hear the words ‘tour’ or ‘mountain bike’. I am off to Cape Town.”
Zahnd had reason to be pleased. It was his first win ever of a mountain-bike tour.
“I really enjoyed racing in South Africa and especially having Max as my teammate. I think we were a very good combination. Who knows, maybe we will also do the Cape Epic as a team.”
Photo credit: ZC Marketing Consulting