Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser and his South African team mate Burry Stander (36ONE Songo Specialized) are on a winning streak by again finishing first in the trial ride (Stage 4) of this year’s Absa Cape Epic. They completed the tough 32km course in a time of 1:10.01,1 and are now 7 minutes and 48 seconds in the lead. They were again followed by Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss of Multivan Merida Biking in 1;11.34,0 with the Wildwolf-Trek Pro Racing team of Sergio Gutierrez Mantecon and Carlos Nicolas Coloma in third place in 1:12.08,0.
Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander maintain their overall lead with a time of 15:44.14,9. In second position overall are Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss of Multivan Merida Biking in 15:52.03,3, followed by the Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm in 15:55.53,8. In fourth place overall are the Stöckli Pro team of Urs Huber and Konny Looser who finished in fifth place today (16:11.01,0), with Versluys-Evenza’s Nicolas Vermeulen and Kevin van Hoovels in fifth place overall (16:13.29,8). They finished in 8th place today.
Says Burry Stander of 36ONE Songo Specialized: “This is the first day in this year’s Absa Cape Epic that I really felt good and had good legs. I didn’t need to rely on Christoph and could finally push him as he has done with me the last couple of days, putting me through the paces. It’s also nice that we a have a bit more time today to recover ahead of the last two long stages. We’ve extended our lead but it’s hard to say what’ll happen in the next three days. We’re doing what we need to every day and trying to ride conservatively as well as increase our lead. I just hope we have Lady Luck on our side.” Christoph Sauser adds: “I’ve learnt that it’s never good for me to think I’m going to have a nice racing day. We caught up with Genze and Käss in the big downhill, rode together for a bit and in the next uphill pulled away. It’s always a cool feeling catching the guys in front. If it’s just down to pedalling, we stand a good chance to stay in front, but this race is not like an office job and an 8 minute lead is not a lot.”
Hannes Genze of Multivan Merida Biking reckons his partner Jochen Käss had a very good day. “I was feeling a bit weak this morning, but Jochen had obviously recovered and pushed the hammer down. After the first kilometre, I thought wow, Jochen is in good form. But luckily after about 10 minutes I also got into a nice rhythm. We wanted to increase our lead on the Bulls team today and I think we managed to do that.” Jochen Käss adds: “I felt very good – definitely better than yesterday – so I pushed Hannes. It was quite windy on the course and I was riding in front on the flat sections. We passed the Bulls in the middle of the race and are very happy with our fourth podium finish, but I think Sauser and Stander are too far ahead for us to catch up.”
Says the current Spanish Cross Country Champion Sergio Gutierrez Mantecon (Wildwolf-Trek Pro Racing): “We’re extremely happy with our first podium finish and felt good today. This race is very difficult and the competition is exceptionally fierce with the best riders in the world participating. It’s also a fantastic atmosphere with the school kids welcoming us at the finish line. It’s a fun race and I’m sure we’ll be back again.”
Karl Platt of the Bulls team comments that Stander and Sauser caught up with them on a steep climb at the 10 km mark. “It always gives riders an extra push to pass the leaders in front of them. Stefan is finding it tough to get his rhythm this year and you have to admit that you can’t have the same legs every year. Christoph and Burry are super strong this year and one can’t say whether there’ll be a price to pay for riding so hard. Susi (Sauser) is in excellent shape and he seems to be getting stronger as the stage progresses. Burry is still young but old doesn’t necessarily mean slower. I’m really surprised by Christoph – he gets skinnier each day and more confident. They’re doing a great job.” To the comment that Sauser is training with a coach again, Platt comments that one never stops learning. “You need to learn all the time – even when you’re 60.”
Belgian champion Nicolas Vermeulen (team Versluys-Evenza) is happy with his team’s performance. “I think our result in the overall is good. Milka-Trek had a mechanical, as did the Multivan Merida team. It was bad luck for them but good for us.”
African Leader jersey fits comfortably on team Garmin adidas MTN
Mannie Heymans and Adrien Niyonshuti (team Garmin adidas MTN) maintain their lead in the African Jersey with an overall time of 16:53.47,3, followed by Paul Cordes and Charles Keey (MTN/Qhubeka) in 17:34.29,0. In third place are Brandon Stewart and Shan Wilson (Toyota DCM) in 17:33.27,9. Heymans and Niyonshuti are now in 10th position overall.
South Africa’s Brandon Stewart, riding with Shan Wilson as team Toyota DCM, says: “We were quite close to the leading team in the African jersey up to yesterday, but then Shan had two big crashes and we lost some time. We suspect he has a fractured collar bone and broken septum. We took it nice and easy today as tomorrow’s stage will be really tough. This is Shan’s 8th Absa Cape Epic and I have a feeling nothing will let him pull out unless he really has to. He takes a couple of pain killers in the morning and carries on. In cycling, sometimes you’re giving it and sometimes you’re taking it. This is a team race and we’re in it together whether it’s good or bad. We’ll try our best and hope to have some fun along the way, as that’s important.” His team mate Shan Wilson adds: “We were fighting for the African jersey but then I broke a fork and had to carry on like that for 100km. This will be a fight to the finish. We’re third in the African jersey and will do our best to defend it. It’s all in the head and one can train only so much. I love this race and the drama. It’s the best novel or movie and you’re the star actor in it. Today’s time trial wasn’t good. It felt as if someone with a hammer and nail was drilling into my collar bone. But this is what the Cape Epic is about. I’m a determined guy by nature and won’t easily give up.”
Says Namibian Marc Bassingthwaighte of team Garmin adidas 2: “We’re not fighting for the African jersey. Our team mates have it and we’re just trying to protect it. It means a lot to our team that we help them and we’ll definitely be there for them if they have any problems.”
Ben Melt Swanepoel of the Ghost Specialized team reckons the weather was nice today. “I have a good partner and bike and we’ll give it everything we have.”