Yesterday (Wednesday, 19 October) Christoph Sauser (Songo.info), Switzerland’s world champion in the mountain biking marathon, set a personal record when he and his partner, Max Knox (Ghost), won the third stage of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek.
Sauser can now boast with four stage victories in three DCM Cape Pioneer Trek tours and this is the first time he won two in one year.
During a cold and wet day in which a strong wind at times made life pure hell for the cyclists, Sauser and Knox executed their second consecutive stage victory with Swiss precision. They bided their time, waiting for the moment when the going got really tough.
When he was riding into one of the most technical sections, Sauser attacked. When he realized that Knox had the legs to follow, there was no way of stopping them. They really put the hammer down.
Unfortunately, Kevin Evans and David George (Nedbank 360Life), overall leaders, were busy fixing a puncture when the attack took place. This meant that they had to play catch-up for the rest of the race.
Adrien Niyonshuti and Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka) were the second team that was brought to an abrupt halt by a mechanical failure.
The cassette of Niyonshuti’s back wheel broke, which meant that he had to stop every three kilometres to try to fix it.
At one stage, his desperate teammate, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, tried to fix it, using a rock and his multi tool as implements. Unfortunately it was to no avail.
Luckily Niyonshuti could change wheels at the next water point.
Sauser and Knox won the stage from Riversdale to Albertinia (107km) in 4 hours, 12 minutes and 24 seconds. This result means that they have moved up to the fifth position overall but, because of the 60 minute time penalty they received on the first day, they are still not in a position to win overall.
Ben-Melt Swanepoel and Nico Bell (Team Need Sponsor) were second in 4:13:53. Because of their 22-minute lead on the third placed team, MTN-Qhubeka, they are now virtually assured of a second place overall
In spite of their third position finish in 4:17:22, Evans and George still have a comfortable overall lead of 20 minutes.
George was quite philosophical about their mishap.
“We are in good shape and we are here to win the tour. In stage racing the important thing is to gauge your efforts every day. On one day you end up on the back foot and on the next you are on the front foot. The trick is to even out your good and bad luck.”
Evans said jokingly afterwards that they indirectly helped Swanepoel and Bell to secure the second overall position.
“We were really chasing hard to catch up, but because we were wearing the yellow leaders’ jerseys Ben-Melt and Nico must have thought that they were being chased by the MTN-Qhubeka riders who were also wearing yellow jerseys. There was no way they would allow them to catch up with them. Ben-Melt and Nico probably accelerated every time they saw us coming and, in doing so, they increased their lead.”
Having won the first two stages,IIschen Stopforth and Catherine Williamson (Bizhub) won the third stage in the women’s category as well. Switzerland’s Kathrin Stirnemann and Sandro Soncin (BH Hai Bike) caused an upset by outsprinting Erik and Ariane Kleinhans (Contego/Giant/Sludge) to win the third stage in the mixed category.
The Kleinhans couple won the first two stages and they are the overall leaders in the mixed category.