Posted by Editoress on 09/28/19
The 2019 Migdal Epic Israel came to an exciting conclusion today, with the race’s quickest full stage producing a Canadian double win, as well as sealing overall victory for the German duo of Maximillian Brandl and Georg Egger, and Haley Smith / Catharine Pendrel of Canada.
After setting out from the race village, the riders travelled north on flat tracks between avocado and banana plantations, in one of the most beautiful coastal strips in Israel by the Mediterranean Sea. The first feed zone of the day was as early as the 25km mark, where most of the men’s contenders chose to ride straight through in recognition of the stage’s shortness, as well as the slightly cooler conditions today brought.
A sequence of fast trails took riders towards Hanita singletrack, one of the most beautiful and popular trails in Israel, constructed by the Israel National Fund. Another singletrack section followed - Matzuah - which took riders to the second feeding point in Kibbutz Matzuba Sharmat, with the main stage contenders of Egger / Brandl (GER), L’Esperance / Disera (CAN), Markt / Raggl (AUT) and Allard / Philipp (FRA) all within striking distance of each other for the stage victory.
At this stage it seemed as though the German leading pair, who until this point had dominated the race with victories in the Prologue and Stages 1 and 2, would try to go for the win to complete a whitewash of victories, but in mountain biking, nothing is certain until the finish line is crossed.
About 15km from the finish line, Egger / Brandl had escaped their fellow competitors along with yesterday’s stage rivals L’Esperance / Disera. With the Canadians determined to avenge their previous defeat, as well as claim a spot on the overall podium, the two pairs worked together to distance the chasing riders, including third place at the start of the day, Allard and Philipp. However, about 10km from the finish, disaster struck the Germans as a cable became stuck in the rear derailleur and cassette of Egger’s bike, forcing a temporary stop to free the mechanism.
This was the opportunity the Canadian duo had been waiting for, and although they signalled the trouble to their rivals in a show of sportsmanship, hoping that they might still be able to continue to work as a team and put more time into their rivals on the GC, they were forced to push on for their own goals.
After losing around 1:30 to the technical issue, Egger / Bradl pushed hard to bridge the gap, in the process catching and passing the other chasing riders, Markt / Raggl and Allard / Philipp. However, it wasn’t enough to reel in L'Esperance / Disera, who crossed the line as victors in 2:33:01. Egger / Brandl came home 1:30 back, claiming overall victory for the second consecutive year. Third place was taken by Markt / Raggl, 2:07 from the stage winners. Allard / Philipp finished 2:30 behind, losing their place on the podium to the Canadians.
In the women's race, category leaders Haley Smith / Catharine Pendrel put in another stong performance to take victory, leading from the front and not looking back, crossing the line in 2:58:55. Sofia Gomez-Villafañe and Rose Grant rallied from a disastrous Stage 2, riding to second place, 2:46 behind to claim third in the overall classification, behind consistent Americans Chloe Woodruff and Erin Huck. Jovana Crnogorac and Sophie Von Berswordt-Wallrabe (NED) maintained their good form to take third place on the stage at 2:49.
Peter Disera, winner of Stage 3, said: “We’re really stoked to win the stage today, although Max and Georg had some technical trouble. Yesterday, they helped us with some lube for one of our bikes, and we could see Georg’s issue today, so we did our best to call it out for them.
“They’re really sporting racers, and we like to race like that too, so we told them what we could see. Obviously they had to stop and we had to make the decision to ride on for the stage. For sure we would have made more GC time working with them, but we needed to go.”
Catharine Pendrel, winner of Stage 3 and Women’s overall classification, said: “We went out there today to take the stage win and we put in a really good ride to achieve it. We knew that it was the same finish where we got caught on Stage 1, so we wanted to fix that!
“It’s also good because yesterday we won partly because of technical issues to the other girls, and if you ask any competitor, no-one wants to win that way. Today we won by putting in a strong ride, and we’re proud of that.”
Peter Disera and Andrew L'Esperence report
71.5 km and 870 m of climbing.
Amazing section of narrow road towards the boarder of Lebanon and along a boardwalk with an amazing view of the sea.
Singletrack today, one of the best climbing trails I have ever done and fast descending too. We rode really well today. We were well positioned and we took control and made the moves happen to help pur goals of moving up to 3rd overall and trying to snag a stage win.
We saved the best for last and finished off the 2019 Epic Israel with a win! Man that felt good, especially with how this entire stage race started for us and the way we took control of the racing today. From the first key section I took over the lead and Peter soon joined me at the front. We knew there was a long singletrack section on the course and we led into that section 1-2 where we put pressure on the field. We worked to stretch the field as much as possible on the fast open sections and try our best to wear down the field. We got the group down to 6 riders coming into the last climb and I went to the front and rode hard on the loose rough climb. Then Peter followed that up with a savage effort on a very rough false flat downhill and that created the final selection of the German race leaders and us. We were working well together when unfortunately the Germans had a mechanical. From that point we went all in and raced the final 10 km to the finish alone.
"What an awesome 4 days of racing here at Epic Israel. We got better and better each day and to finish with a win was special. Huge thanks to Peter for the good times racing and being an awesome teammate. Thanks to Norco as well for all the support to get us ready for this event and of course the Revolver FS that handled everything we threw at it. Maybe we will be back Israel."
“Super stoked to take a stage win here on the final day of Epic Israel. We came so close on stage 2 but the slightly shorter stage 3 was right up my alley. It was unfortunate that the Germans, Max and Georg, had a mechanical in the final few kilometres. There was a considerable amount of debris on the courses and Georg sucked up a sting into his drivetrain. I was screaming at him to stop pedalling. It would’ve been devastating to see the team that had dominated the race go out with a major mechanical not far from the finish. For Lespy and I it was all in for the finish. Regardless of the stage win (which was sweet) we needed to claw back time on GC after our day of misfortune during stage 1. We were successful and moved all the way up to 3rd in GC. We couldn’t be more stoked. I’m happy it is over now, but it is a race I could see myself doing again!”
Stage 3 Results
1 Andrew L’Esperance / Peter Disera (CAN) 2:33:01
2.Georg Egger / Maximilian Brandl (GER) +1:30
3 Karl Markt / Gregor Raggl (AUT) +2:07
1 Haley Smith / Catharine Pendrel (CAN) 2:58:55
2 Sofia Gomez-Villafañe / Rose Grant (ARG / USA) +2:46
3.Jovana Crnogorac / Sophie Von Berswordt-Wallrabe (SRB / NED) +2:49
Final Overall Classifications
1 Georg Egger / Maximilian Brandl (GER) 10:38:21
2.Karl Markt / Gregor Raggl (AUT) +7:10
3.Andrew L’Esperance / Peter Disera (CAN) +12:39
1 Haley Smith / Catharine Pendrel (CAN) 12:37:35
2 Chloe Woodruff / Erin Huck (USA) +17:58
3 Sofia Gomez-Villafañe / Rose Grant (ARG / USA) +21:19
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