Posted by Editoress on 03/29/07
Absa Cape Epic South Africa
Photos by from Frank Bodenmüller - www.mtbsector.com
Cannondale-Vredestein 1 Back on Top in 6th Stage of Absa Cape Epic
Roel Paulissen (Bel) and Jakob Fugslang (Den) of Cannondale-Vredestein 1 inched back into the overall leaders' spot, winning the sixth stage of the Absa Cape Epic with a stage time of three hours, forty six minutes and 34.7 seconds. They once again hold the coveted top overall spot with a mere 11 seconds separating them from their closest competitors, German Team Bulls.
"This is such a crazy race", says Jakob Fuglsang. "It is so highly competitive that each day is a non stop battle. You have to fight for every second and use each and every opportunity to push away. On the other hand that's what makes it so interesting and exciting. We are all, more or less, of equal strength. And of course, everyone is tired. Roel is pulling me a lot and Karl is pulling Stefan a lot. And when one team puts the hammer down, the other has to follow. So today we decided to attack on all the climbs. We knew, from previous days, that we are the strongest team uphill and that we have a big advantage on the rocky terrain with our full suspension bikes. On each climb we gained about 40 to 50 seconds today. Bart was closest to us on the rocky climb. Rudi was falling behind and that was lucky for us because they could have caught us."
Silvio Bundi and Gion Manetsch In 3rd Place
Today's podium saw another new team claim stage honours. Last year's champion, Silvio Bundi, (CH) and his team partner Gion Manetsch (CH) came in third today in a time of three hours, fifty one minutes and 7.9 seconds. "We didn't have such a good start into this year's Absa Cape Epic," says Silvio. "After the first two days we knew that we would not play a role in winning the overall race. We had a lot of punctures and mechanical problems. Yesterday we decided to have a rest day - if you could call it a rest day when you sit five hours in the saddle. But we took it easy and simply enjoyed the stage. Last night we felt much better so we decided to try for the podium on the last three days. It worked. We caught Shan Wilson (RSA) and Jacques Rossouw (RSA) at the last water point but we had no chance to go with Karl and Stefan. Karl had too much power today. Gion had great legs. Mine were not that good, but good enough to keep up with him."
Taste of Heaven
No surprises in the masters and ladies races today, with Andrew Mclean (RSA) and Damian Booth (RSA) of Cycle Lab taking the masters stage by two minutes and maintaining their overall lead. "A lot of people told us that we wouldn't be able to beat Linus van Onselen and Doug Brown" says Andrew Mclean. "But we believed we would. And we were right. The only time Linus and Doug got away from us was when we got a puncture. Now we hope to maintain our lead all the way to the finish. But you never know - anything can happen in these kinds of races. What is great though, is that we have a good fight going on in the Masters category. Apart from the Men's, ours is the closest race, which makes every victory even sweeter. I enjoy proving that Ã…â€™roadies' - as mountain bikers like to call us - can ride off-road, too. In fact, on the last day I will wear white socks to greet the road racers out there." The Absa Cape Epic is Andrew Mclean's first big mountain bike race. He only got his mountain bike three months ago. "When my mates told me I must do the Absa Cape Epic, they said it is like a road race on dirt roads. Well, that is certainly not true and there is quite a lot of carrying, pushing and walking involved which I didn't expect."
As presenter of Supersport's Super Cycling, Andrew Mclean is approached a lot by other cyclists. His advice for Absa Cape Epic virgins: "You must build up a lot of endurance for this race and you need mental toughness as much as physical strength."
Anke Erlank Admires Backmarkers
Yolande de Villiers (RSA) and Anke Erlank (RSA) won yet another stage for Team Duravit with an outstanding time of four hours, twenty one minutes and 33.8 seconds, putting them in the strongest position for an overall victory, their time gap being 3 hours and 20 minutes. "I simply cannot get over how people can put themselves through this race, finish after ten hours and then still have to feed themselves, wash their clothes, fix their bikes and so on", says Anke Erlank. "In fact, having your bike fixed every day gets really expensive for an average guy taking part in the Absa Cape Epic. But that's the nature of this race. Everything is epic. It is a brag race. You want to brag that you have been there, done that and got the T-shirt. The amateurs are the guys that make it. And in a way I benefit from them because they all buy their equipment and that's why I have sponsors who can equip me.
Germans Ivonne Kraft and Nico Pfitzenmaier Claim First Stage Win
The Mixed classification saw some changes with Olympian Ivonne Kraft (D) and three times Ironman finisher Nico Pfitzenmaier (D) of Team Maloja-BTS Time for Travel taking the stage ahead of Team IMC/Mongoose who have managed to hold onto their overall lead by 26 minutes. "We finally made it in our third attempt", says Nico. "For the past two days we built up a good lead and then we had a nasty puncture. On stage four, Ivonne hit a wire that ripped her rear wheel, and yesterday a sharp stone cut her tyre at a river crossing. In both cases we lost a lot of time. Today there were no defects, but Ivonne was feeling a bit sick at the start of the race. She had a sore throat so we decided not to push too hard but to ride at our own pace instead. We still caught a good group up front although we struggled a bit in the flat stretches. The cheering children along the route are really motivating. They get so excited when you touch their hands. Seeing their resplendent eyes gives you so much energy that you forget about your pain and strain. Another energy booster is the stunning scenery. I really enjoyed today's stage. I rode ahead a few times in order to take pictures. After all, you want to cherish these memories for a lifetime."
1. Cannondale-Vredestein 1 (Roel Paulissen/Jakob Fuglsang), 3:46:34
2. Team Bulls (Karl Platt/Stefan Sahm), at 1:31
3. Giant/Athleticum (Silvio Bundi/Gion Manetsch), 4:33
4. Dolphin Mountainbike Team (Bart Brentjens/Rudi van Houts), 6:20
5. Team Adidas/William Simpson/ (Shan Wilson/Jacques Rossouw), 6:36
6. Team Texner-Stoeckli (Thomas Zahnd/Sandro Spaeth), 7:08
7. RALEIGH MTN ENERGADE 2 (Mannie Heymans/Melt Swanepoel), 8:12
8. Stevens (Johannes Sickmueller/Rene Birkenfeld), 10:02
9. RALEIGH MTN ENERGADE 1 (Kevin Evans/Brandon Stewart), 13:10
10. ADIDAS/WILLIAM SIMPSON (Oliver Munnick/Max Knox), 14:29
1. Maloja-BTS Time for Travel (Ivonne Kraft/Nico Pfitzenmaier), 4:24:23
2. IMC/Mongoose (Yolande Speedy/Paul Cordes), 4:48
3. ABSA PRO MIXED (Geddan Ruddock/Jean McKirdy), 6:20
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