The 119km (with 1 650m of climbing) route traversed the beautiful rolling dual tracks through the stony Klein Karoo, passing through the charming village of McGregor. It was a special day out for the riders. For those who managed to avoid tunnel vision, it was a geologist’s paradise with remarkable sandstone formations. Some might say this was too much fun for the Absa Cape Epic, but riders would soon be brought back down to earth – the rocks may have created beautiful formations but they are sharp. With knife-edged shale and a carpet of thorns, heavy-duty tyres were essential. After passing through Van Loveren Wine Estate on some severe vineyard hills, a district road took the race past Ashton as they headed towards the mountains for some short but steep climbs before returning to Robertson
The Men’s category of Stage 2 of this year’s Absa Cape Epic was won in a sprint finish by the Bulls 1 team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm in a time of 4:21.13,4 (overall 10:19.15,7). They were closely followed by Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking in 4:21.13,8 (overall 10:20.34,4), with winners of the previous two days Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser of Team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized in third place in 4:21.15,0 (overall 10:06.29,7). The South African team of Kevin Evans and David George (360Life) finished in fourth place today in a time of 4:21.15,9 (overall 10:30.44,3) with Urs Huber and Konny Looser of Stöckli Pro in fifth place in 4:21.16,4 (10:15.57,10).
Stander and Sauser still lead this category by 9 minutes and 27 seconds. Urs Huber and Konny Looser of Stöckli Pro are placed second overall (10:15.57,1) with Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen of Topeak Ergon Racing third overall (10:16.20,2). Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm of the Bulls 1 team are in fourth place overall (10:19.15,7), with Kevin Evans and David George moving up one position to ninth place overall (10:30.44,3).
The Absa African Leader jersey was won by MTN Qhubeka team Adrien Nyontshuti and Jacques Janse van Rensburg (overall 10:27.38,2) for the second consecutive day.
Says Stefan Sahm, of the Bulls 1 team, of his 5th stage win in this history of the race: “It was a great day for us. We didn’t even speak close to the finish. It was as if we knew telepathically what the other wanted to do. Our timing was perfect, our legs felt better and we’re getting into a rhythm now. We’re very motivated, but it’s still a long way to go.” Adds his team mate Karl Platt, who boasts his 12th stage win in the race: “I can’t describe the feeling. It’s unbelievable to win a stage again after not winning in 2010 or 2011. We waited for two years, but did it – and Lady Luck was on our side today. Today wasn’t that tough, but we had to be patient as we were always riding in a big group. Stefan did exactly what I was thinking – he attacked. We did it! Our legs are back and we’re really happy – it’s a relief to win a stage again.”
Says Burry Stander of Team 36ONE-Songo- Specialized: “We were a group of 40 riders in the beginning. It was quite dangerous and tense for the first 40km with riders fighting for position. On a climb the group was cut down to 10 teams. From then on we just kept making sure that we eat and drink enough when preparing for tomorrow’s monster stage. It’s always special to be on the podium. Well done to the other teams – they wanted the win badly and it keeps the race exciting.” Christoph Sauser adds: “To win a sprint with that many teams take real dedication. When Stefan attacked we tried to stay with him, but we just couldn’t take the lead from him. We finished on the podium and are still the overall leaders. We’re more than happy.”
Kevin Evans of 360Life is also happy with their performance. “We had no bad luck today, so it wasn’t hard to get better. It was a deceivingly hard stage and the group stayed together for most of the way. It’ll be hard day for those riding at the back. Tomorrow’s a big day for us and we’re still motivated to be on the podium at the Lourensford Wine Estate finish.” Adds David George: “We’re very happy with the day and must put yesterday behind us. In fact, today is the best I’ve ever felt in an Absa Cape Epic and was definitely one of the easiest days. We had the opportunity to narrow the gap and benefited from our good form. We’ll take it day by day – that’s just the nature of the Cape Epic- you always ride on a knife’s edge.”
For Andreas Kugler of Multivan Merida Biking, today was busier than yesterday. “Due to the course, we didn’t go at such high speeds – there were a lot of hills and we also had a puncture – but it was easy to come back to the group. My body felt okay for day three. Tomorrow is a really long stage, and we have no plan for tomorrow but to ride it.”
Sally Bigham and Esther Süss of Wheels4Life won the Ladies category for the third day in a row in a time of 4:54.27,2 (overall 11:43.58,8), ahead of Karien van Jaarsveld and Jane Nüssli of MTN Qhubeka Ladies in 5:03.57,3 (overall 12:28.31,7). Ivonne Kraft and Elisabeth Brandau of botebooksbilliger.de finished in third place in 5:08.52,2 (overall 12:30.12,8).
Bigham and Süss lead Biogen Britehouse team Theresa Ralph and Nina Gässler by 25 minutes and 59 seconds. MTN Qhubeka are now in third place overall with notebooksbilliger in fourth.
Says Karien van Jaarsveld: “I had a stomach bug before the race and am still recovering from that. It was a fast race today and we put the girls under pressure to test everyone. We’re feeling good and hope to be on the podium tomorrow. It’s a big day and we’ll consolidate and take it conservatively over the next few days.” Adds Jane Nüssli: “Today was good and we rode at a nice pace. It was quite flat, the heat was fine and the climbs were not too steep – it’s fantastic to be on the podium.”
Telkom Business Master’s Category
The Telkom Business Masters Category was won by Robert Sim and Nico Pfitzenmaier of the Robert Daniel Momsen team in 4:30.52,6 (overall time 10:56.46,4), followed by the Jag Craft team of Adrian Enthoven and Delaney Impey in 4:38.06,6 (11:05.31,2). In third place were the World Bicycle Relief team of Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers in 4:38.34,1 (overall time 11:34.26,3).
Sim and Pfitzenmaier lead the Jag Craft team of Adrian Enthoven and Delaney Impey by 8 minutes and 44 seconds. World Bicycle Relief team Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers are in third place overall (11:34.26,3).
Says Nico Pfitzenmaier of Robert Daniel Momsen: “Today was way better than yesterday. We actually had an amazing and consistent ride. Bart Brentjens and his team mate attacked and tried to play tactics, but we decided to just stay cool. Rob and I cycled really well together and from the second water point the route suited us. We’re both technical riders and could then create a nice gap. There was a double sting in the tail near the end, but we survived. We recovered well after yesterday and felt really good today.” Adds team mate Robert Sim: “I was feeling much better than yesterday. Our plan for tomorrow is to conserve our lead and not blow out in the beginning. We’ll also track the opposition to ensure we’re in good shape for the second half of the race.”
The Contego 28E team of Erik and Ariana Kleinhans won the Mixed category for the second day in a row in 4:48.52,3 (overall 11:38.04,5), followed by Udo Boelts and Milena Landtwing of Centurion Vaude in 4:55.04,7 (overall 11:48.24,3). Pieter Venter and Leana de Jager of Attix5 finished in third place in 5:02.30,4 (overall 12:30.35,2). They have moved to third place overall, with Russell de Jager and Andrea Huser now in fifth place overall in a time of 12:45.27,4. Contego 28E lead by 10 minutes and 19 seconds.
Says Ariane Kleinhans: “It was nice and flowing today. We rode with the leading ladies for much of the way, but at the climb after the second water point we pulled away from them. My body’s feeling good and it was not as tough as yesterday – not as hot and we had enough to drink. I feel great and motivated for the rest of the week. Erik knows me so well, which helps a lot. We train together every day, so he knows my strengths and weaknesses.” Adds Erik Kleinhans: “Tomorrow is a long stage – 147km. I hope it’s not just hard, but also has some easy sections. We’re in the lead so we don’t need to take too many risks. We’ll try to take it easy.”
Start and finish: Robertson to Caledon (147km, 2900m of climbing)
Some may call stage two “a fun day out”, but now it is payback time. Dr. Evil cites four major climbs on the longest stage in Absa Cape Epic history, with the action starting around the 40-kilometre mark. The first is a six-kilometre dual track, where riders will fight for traction over large rolling rocks. Then there is the four-kilometre Mast climb, with a view over Villiersdorp. The next lump in the profile is a smooth and comparatively easy rise to the Toll House, the highest point of the day, with a fast five-kilometre descent dropping 500 metres into the valley. At the 110-kilometre mark, there’s the UFO climb to scale. A sharp rise is followed by a tricky descent, undoing all the hard work. Then starting again, from the bottom, is a steep rocky trail with several false peaks where riders will be switching to their granny gears. Riders can clock up some mileage on the fast downhill district roads before the last 10 kilometres slows them down again, traversing farmlands. Riders are welcomed to their new race village – Caledon.