Posted by Editoress on 04/2/08
Cape Epic - Bulls Celebrate Their First Stage Win
Photos: Stage 4 and Stage 5
Completing the longest stage in the history of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas, where riders have covered a total of 677 km and climbed more than 12,689m to date, saw the German Bulls team cross the Stage 5 finish line first (5:10:52) in an exciting sprint finish - claiming their first stage win during this year's event.
Yellow jersey leaders Cannondale Vredestein, who up to the end of Stage 4 enjoyed an overall 18 minute lead, only managed to secure a fifth position (5:19:26), which dramatically narrowed their comfortable time advantage down to less than 10 minutes. Astonishing those at the finish line, Roel Paulissen (BEL), Cannondale Vredestein, completed the stage race with a tyre missing, riding in on only the rim!
Karl Platt (GER) and Stefan Sahm (GER) of the Bulls team were followed by fellow Germans Alb-Gold Mountainbike, Hannes Genze and Joschen Kaess, a mere 0.002 seconds later to claim their second place stage win. Less than 2 seconds later Stage 4 winners Bart Brentjens (NED) and Alban Lakata (AUT) of Dolphin-Trek thrilled spectators at a time of 5:10:54. The South African MTN Energade team, Kevin Evans (RSA) and David George (RSA), completed their stage race a second later (5:10:55), providing one of the most exciting stage finishes of this year's Absa Cape Epic.
The longest stage ever
For Stage 5 of the Absa Cape Epic, the route had riders make the journey from Swellendam to Bredasdorp (146km, 1819m climbing). While it might have looked like an easy day on the smooth dirt roads, riders had to turn into about 20km of rough dual tracks of De Hoop Nature Reserve where rocks and deep sand killed their momentum and their legs. As this time of year is usually a dry season, the sandy tracks were deeper and longer.
Many were frustrated with having to get off and push. But it was finally worth it - riders got a magnificent reward - another ocean vista opened out in front of them as they crested the last hill. Thorns and sharp rocks posed the challenge of keeping air in the tyres again. This protected area was alive with flora and fauna with proteas, baboons, ostriches, eland, steenbok and Cape mountain zebra. But riders focused on getting home across the windy plains and farmlands into Bredasdorp.
Fuglsang and Paulissen hit by Murphy's Law
The fifth stage of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas provided much drama and excitement, when approximately 40km into the race, Jakob Fuglsang of Cannondale Vredestein had a flat tyre, followed by a stroke of bad luck when their quick fill cartridge didn't work properly. Using a second cartridge did not help either as the adaptor they had did not work. With only one cartridge left, the team was rescued when Rune Hoydahl of Etto Hoydahl 2 gave them his adaptor, which finally allowed the team to fill the tube. Devastating the team even more, the new tube was broken too and had to be exchanged once more before they could continue with the challenge. At this stage Cannondale Vredestein had lost almost seven minutes, and therefore had to work hard to catch up with the group. As they made their way to the front, they passed Hoydahl and returned his adaptor in case he had a flat tyre and needed it.
But the misfortune did not end there. 18km prior to the finish line, Fuglsang had another flat and they had nothing to repair it with. "We didn't know what to do, as we had no cartridges left and gave the adaptor back to Rune. We then decided, 'why not just ride in on the rim without the tube?' which we did. Roel was feeling stronger today so he suggested that we exchange wheels," says Jakob Fuglsang.
In the process of taking the rear wheel out of Fuglsang's bike, the team lost his brake pads. Fuglsang therefore had to ride without any rear brakes, with more than 18km to go (including 5km of single track). Fuglsang pushed his partner in off-road sections and pulled him on the tarred road. Paulissen says that riding on the rim was killing his legs. "It was like riding on a drilling machine, and I can still feel the effects of this afterwards. We didn't have a clue how far we were behind - our gut feeling told us it must've been more than 18 minutes, and we were sure that we would no longer be overall leaders. But we kept going, which was definitely the right decision. We were thrilled when we reached the finish line only to find that we had lost a mere 8 minutes." He added that all he can do to recover from the additional pressure that his legs had to endure during Stage 5 was to eat properly, "but that gets more difficult after each stage, because you are too tired to eat."
Lost in the sand
Stage winner Karl Platt says that his teammate Stefan Sahm was really strong today. "I started off the race with my legs feeling totally finished. Fortunately the stage was not so difficult today - just long and hot. It took about 40km for me to warm up and then it felt like someone put a switch on and anything was possible. I felt really strong thereafter. The only part of today's stage that was tough and nasty was the sandy passage." It was in this deep sand that the Bulls team encountered their share of the day's bad luck when one of the team members from the Hoydahl teams crashed and Platt fell on top of him. "I had to get off my bike to fix it and I had to work really hard in this sandy part to catch up."
Alb-Gold Mountainbike also had their fair share of drama in the sand when Hannes Genze's chain broke and took 3 minutes to fix. "It was way in the beginning of the sandy nightmare, so it took forever to catch up, as at this stage the second group had already passed us. When one of the riders crossed over into my track, we crashed, which caused another delay."
Jochen Kaess adds: "After we passed the second group we were on our own. By the time we reached the final waterpoint we were two and a half minutes behind and we worked our butts off to close the gap, which we did 20km prior to the finish. I felt really strong today and did most of the leading in our team. So all in all, we had a really good day, despite all the bad luck. I am just grateful that it happened today and not during any of the other stages."
Further results reveal that the overall winner title of this year's Absa Cape Epic is still up for anyone's taking with Cannondale Vredestein (24:32:17) almost halving their overall lead-time after the previous stage to less than ten minutes. Bulls (24:42:03) and Alb-Gold Mountainbike (24:42:40) are only seconds apart from each other, with MTN Energade (24:49:14) and Dolphin-Trek (24:50:47) just over a minute apart.
Rocky Mountain refuses to let go of top spot
The Trek/VW WSD team, Susan Haywood (USA) and Jennifer Smith (NZL), once again crossed the finish line first in the ladies category at a time of 6:19:17, ahead of Rocky Moutain, Pia Sundstedt (FIN) & Alison Sydor (CAN), at 6:21:10. But despite another stage win, Rocky Mountain still leads the way overall at 29:19:16. However, the ladies are aware that anything can happen, especially after today's upset in the Men's category. Trek/Vw Wsd are slowly catching up (30:15:32). Third overall is Scott Contessa, Jane Seggie (RSA) and Ischen Stopforth (NZL) at 30:53:51.
90 percent of riders made it halfway through
Of the 368 teams that entered the Absa Cape Epic in the Men's category, 300 were still in the race this morning, with 19 of the 24 Ladies teams still going strong. The Masters category dropped to 113 from the 147 teams that started the journey during Stage 1. There are 47 of the 61 teams left in the Mixed category. Therefore, 81% of teams in the Men's Category still remain, 79% in the Ladies category, 77% in the Masters category as well as 77% in the Mixed category. This refers to the full teams still in the race - however, the Absa Cape Epic rules allow for riders to form new teams if one of their partners drop out (but they will be seen as individual riders). 1200 riders started their Absa Cape Epic journey in Knysna, with 90% still participating (including individual finishers and blue board riders. Blue board riders are those who carry on riding, but are no longer considered as finishers after not completing a stage).
Next stop: Hermanus
For Stage 6, Absa Cape Epic riders will travel from Bredasdorp to Hermanus (130km, 2095m climbing). The start out in Bredasdorp will offer fast gravel roads through the surrounding farmland. A rugged warm-up climb followed by a loose descent gets riders ready for the day's big challenge: Salmonsdam Nature Reserve. It will be a 14km ascent from around 6% to 12% on rugged jeep track, winding its way through mountain fynbos. The views along the way, as well as the loose and rocky drop down towards the vineyards, are all worth the effort. But the finish line will still be a long way away. A short stretch on tar will give riders a welcome rest before dirt roads and farm tracks head for the sea. A quick nip over the dunes will take riders into the shores of Walker Bay to cross the Stanford River mouth - a knee-deep wade before reaching the spectacular finish at the Old Hermanus Harbour.
|1 Bulls (Karl Platt/Stefan Sahm)||5:10:52|
|2 Alb-Gold Mountainbike (Hannes Genze/Jochen Kaess)||s.t.|
|3 Dolphin-Trek (Bart Brentjens/Alban Lakata)||at 0:02|
|4 MTN Energade (1) (Kevin Evans/David George)||0:03|
|5 Cannondale Vredestein (Roel Paulissen/ Jakob Fuglsang)||8:34|
|1 Trek/VW WSD (Susan Haywood/Jennifer Smith)||6:19:17|
|2 Rocky Mountain (Pia Sundstedt/Alison Sydor)||at 1:53|
|3 Scott Contessa (Jane Seggie/Ischen Stopforth)||30:52|
|4 Absa Ladies (Erica Green/Hanlie Booyens)||49:15|
|5 Valhalla (Petruschka Constancon/Louise Hemmes)||1:20:30|
|1 Absa Masters (Doug Brown/Barti Bucher)||5:47:03|
|2 adidas William Simpson (Shan WilsonWalter Platzgummer)||at 6:21|
|3 Pragma Masters (M.C. Franken/Peter Buggle)||13:36|
|4 Jeff Art Signs / Giant (Bryan Strauss/Andre Viljoen)||24:57|
|5 Private Client Holdings (Andrew Johan Cillie/Leon Olivier)||36:59|
|1 Joybike Guided by VMT and Maloja (Ivonne Kraft/Nico Pfitzenmaier)||6:16:57|
|2 Cyclelab Toyota (Johan Labuschagne/Yolande de Villiers)||at 2:17|
|3 Absa Mixed (Kobus Barnard/Fienie Barnard)||19:58|
|4 X.O Felt Swiss (Adrian Burri/Franziska Roethlin)||25:24|
|5 Mud Suckers (Michelle Schlebusch/Chris Fick)||45:46|
|1 Cannondale Vredestein (Roel Paulissen/Jakob Fuglsang)||24:32:17|
|2 Bulls (Karl Platt/Stefan Sahm)||at 9:46|
|3 Alb-Gold Mountainbike (Hannes Genze/Jochen Kaess)||10:23|
|4 MTN Energade 1 (Kevin Evans/David George)||16:57|
|5 Dolphin-Trek (Bart Brentjens/Alban Lakata)||18:30|
|6 Full-Dynamix RSM (Fredrik Kessiakoff/Massimo Debertolis)||48:45|
|7 USN/adidas (Brandon Stewart/Max Knox)||1:05:51|
|8 MTN Energade 2 (Mannie Heymans/Melt Swanepoel)||1:37:44|
|9 Etto Hoydahl 3 (Martin Bratland/Kristian Torgersen)||1:38:15|
|10 Etto Hoydahl 2 (Rune Hoydahl/Ola Kjoren)||1:45:56|
|1 Rocky Mountain (Pia Sundstedt/Alison Sydor)||29:19:16|
|2 Trek/VW WSD (Susan Haywood/Jennifer Smith)||at 56:16|
|3 Scott Contessa (Jane Seggie/Ischen Stopforth)||2:34:35|
|4 Absa Ladies (Erica Green/Hanlie Booyens)||2:41:20|
|5 Valhalla (Petruschka Constancon/Louise Hemmes)||7:24:27|
|1 Absa Masters (Doug Brown/Barti Bucher)||27:12:38|
|2 adidas William Simpson (Shan WilsonWalter Platzgummer)||at 21:54|
|3 Pragma Masters (M.C. Franken/Peter Buggle)||1:11:31|
|4 Private Client Holdings (Andrew Johan Cillie/Leon Olivier)||3:14:02|
|5 Jeff Art Signs / Giant (Bryan Strauss/Andre Viljoen)||3:17:18|
|Return to Canadian Cyclist homepage | Back to Top|