European stars Team Bulls claimed a maiden victory at the 3rd Nashua Grape Escape after dominating the field for most of the three-day stage race. Tim Böhme took home the gold medal, with teammate Urs Huber claiming second place. Third place went to up-and-coming local star James Reid of Team Trek/Privateer.
Defending champion Christoph Sauser took first place on a challenging Stage 3, beating Phil Buys by eight seconds. It wasn’t enough to make up for a disappointing run of bad luck after he gave up the lead a few hundred meters from the finish on Stage 1 when he took a wrong turn, and then experiencing technical problems on Stage 2.
Third-place Reid, who held off the rest of the six-strong Team Bulls contingent to take third place, was full of praise for the winners. “Hats off to Team Bulls – they’re a classy bunch of riders and really quick. You can see they really love to ride in this area and that they know the trails really well.”
He said the race was excellent preparation for his five-week stint abroad with ladies category winner Candice Neethling. “It was hard, good quality racing today, with a lot of the guys who struggled in the first two days coming out with something to prove. Candice and I are now going to spend a few weeks in the trenches cutting our teeth.”
Neethling took top honours in the ladies race after a fierce three-day battle with a very competitive field. “There was a lot climbing in the beginning and I knew I had to make up time, so I decided to just see how I go and try to get the stage win for today. Ariane had some bad luck with punctures and I realised if I ride hard to the finish I could maybe make up the time between us to take first overall.”
The young Olympian, who only decided to take part at the last minute, says she’ll definitely be back next year. “The event was great – some hard racing with lovely trails and proper climbs and it’s given me great preparation as I head overseas.”
David Bellairs, Director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, said this year’s event was the best yet. ”The new route, race village, and new sponsor Nashua helped us take this young event to an entirely new level. We’d like to thank the great support we’ve received from all the riders who took part in the event, and look forward to welcoming you all back next year.”
Men 1st: Tim Böhme (Team Bulls) (8:33:32)
Men 2nd: Urs Huber (Team Bulls) (8:33:42)
Men 3rd: James Reid (Team Trek/Privateer) (8:34:59)
Ladies 1st: Candice Neethling (Team BMC-SA) (10:11:13)
Ladies 2nd: Catherine Williamson (Team bizhub-fcf) (10:12:05)
Ladies 3rd: Jennie Stenerhag (Team Focus) (10:37:37)