Max Knox and Thomas Zahnd (DCM) proved during the third stage of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek that it will take a super human effort from Kevin Evans and Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN-Energade) to take the coveted yellow jersey from them.
Actually judging by the way they rode during the third stage which is considered to be one of the toughest of the entire race it is starting to look as if Knox/Zahnd will be hard to overtake on the overall classification.
Evans admitted as much.
“The only thing left for us to do is to play the waiting game. The only chance that we have of winning the tour is if Max and Thomas make a really stupid mistake or if they have some serious setback as far mechanical problems are concerned,” Evans said.
The third stage was actually a classic case of Evans and Niyonshuti winning the battle but losing the war.
Niyonshuti attacked 50 meters from the line and managed to outsprint everybody, unfortunately for the rider from Rwanda Evans was caught napping and that enabled Christoph Sauser and Silvio Bundi (Specialized-Songo.info) who were racing shoulder to shoulder to win the stage over 110km in 4 hours 50 minutes and 34 seconds.
Evans crossed the line in fourth place which meant that the MTN-Energade team had to be satisfied with a second place finish. Knox and Zahnd finished third without losing time.
After three stages the DCM-team has an overall lead 5 minutes and 35 seconds on Evans/Niyonshuti. They are the only two teams who still are in contention for an overall victory. Brandon Stewart and Jacques Janse van Rensburg (DCM) who is currently the third placed team is now 37 minutes behind.
What was sort of ironic during the third stage was when a journalist in the media vehicle wondered out aloud on how long the 34 year old Sauser, a double world champion and Olympic medalist, will still be competitive.
“Is he not getting a little bit old”, was the question asked?
Well Sauser let his legs do the talking.
On the Kammanassie Nature Reserve’s old Voortrekker-trail, which is a really murderous technical climb of 1000m, where most mountain bikers can’t help uttering three and four letter words that are not usually used in civilized conversations, Sauser was more interested to improve his photographic skills while being part of an eight man breakaway.
Near the top while Niyonshuti was sprinting flat out to win the King of the Mountain-prime, Sauser was using only one hand to steer his mountain bike through the treacherous loose rocks. With his other hand he was holding a small digital camera. He seemed totally oblivious to what his rivals were doing. His only concern was to get a good picture of the helicopter hovering above them and the stunning view behind it.
Sauser only laughed when asked about his photographic obsession during what is considered to be the tour’s second toughest stage.
“Yes it was really important for me to get a good picture of the helicopter. In South African racing it is always special to have a helicopter hovering above you. I am going to use the picture on my website.”
This nonchalant performance by Switzerland’s top mountain biker made the journalist admit that he might have underestimated Sauser’s abilities.
Sauser’s was slightly concerned about the slower riders.
“A lot of riders are really going to battle in the hot and very windy conditions. As far as I am concerned everybody who finishes this tough third stage is a winner.”
Andrew McLean and Bruce Diesel (Cycle Lab) who race as veterans (over 40) impressed everybody when they latched on to the pro-elite breakaway group on the Kammannasie-climb and managed to stay with them until the finish. Taking their fair share of turns in front to set the tempo.
After yesterday’s heroic performance McLean and Diesel are leading the veterans category by more than 90 minutes.
Afterwards Janse van Rensburg, a roadie turned mountain biker, did not hold back when asked what he thought about the route through the Kammannasie.
“Sometimes I really battle to understand how mountain bikers think. Why would anybody want to race on a route where you cannot ride your bike. It is definitely not any fun. “
Photo credit: ZC Marketing Consulting