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March 25/09 20:53 pm - Cape Epic: Stage 4

Posted by on 03/25/09

Report courtesy Cape Epic


The spirit of the legendary Magical and Untamed African Mountain Bike Race again came to life today when South African rider, Max Knox, in a gesture of true sportsmanship, gave Burry Stander of his bike.

South Africa's Stander severely damaged his front wheel and could not continue riding. Knox, who also hails from Kwazulu-Natal (as does Stander), was in 25th position overall yesterday with team mate Brandon Stewart (DCM Chrome). They decided it was more important for the team not to lose too much time as they were not in the running for a place on the podium.

Knox then got a new wheel at the vantage point, repaired Stander's bike, and gave it back to him again at the next water point, where waited for them. This cost the leading team in the first 3 stages more than 20 minutes.

The UCI commissaries decided this evening to give a time penalty of fifteen minutes to Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander ( as they benefited from outside help received by DCM Chrome. Heroic Knox and Stewart (DCM Chrome) received a time penalty of one hour as they broke one of the race rules by getting outside assistance from the Day Trippers. therefore officially finished Stage 4 at a time of 04:58:30, and overall at 17:45:06 - 19 minutes and 29 seconds behind the Bulls.

Today's stage was extremely challenging as the leading teams, who have now lost along the way, were using this opportunity to vie for top honours. They arrived at the finish line exhausted and covered in a (thin) layer of brown dust.

Bulls Win Their First Stage
The Bulls, Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, capitalised on the opportunity to take the lead and won their first stage in this year's Absa Cape Epic (04:32:09). They will wear the Yellow Leader jersey out of Greyton for Stage 5 of this year's race and are also now the leaders overall (17:25:37). The Bulls were closely followed by Emil Lindgren and Andreas Kugler (Felt Factory 2) in a time of 04:32:23. Finishing in third place was the Bulls 2 team, Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme in 04:32:35.

The Flückiger brothers, Mathias and Lukas, finished in fourth place (04:36:04). Trek-Brentjens, Bart Brentjens and Chris Jongewaard, finished in 04:37:36. The South African team Kevin Evans and David George (MTN Energade) finished 6th today in 04:39:24.

Karl Platt, of the Bulls team, dislocated his shoulder again (as during the Prologue) around 2km from the finish. He screamed in agony. His team mate, Stefan Sahm then reduced it back into its socket.

Says Sahm: "We're very happy that we can wear the yellow leader jersey again. We fought so hard last year and it didn't work, so we're stoked that we could make it work this year." He jokingly adds that he is now also Platt's physio. The team's physiotherapist showed Sahm what to do when Karl's shoulder dislocates again. "He said Karl must relax so that I can reduce the shoulder in again. I'll always do whatever's necessary. We ride together, we'll die together."

The Bulls team only learnt at the 2nd water point that was 20 minutes behind them, but did not ride much faster to conserve energy. For them, the hard part started in the last technical sections when the MTN Energade team started attacking and the Bulls decided to stay with them.

Says Platt: "We're super happy about our overall success. I actually can't show my joy so much right now. My shoulder hurts a lot and I'm already thinking about tomorrow. When I dislocated my shoulder, I first couldn't pop it back in. Then Stefan helped me – he had secretly asked our physio what to do in such a situation. Today was a really hard stage. It started hectic with lots of rocks and sand and everyone wanting to ride in front. At first we didn't notice that Burry had a problem, but on this technical terrain, you can be hit hard by bad luck - a ditch or big rock can hide behind every bush. At the second water point they told us that was 20 minutes behind." Adds Sahm: "Karl and I decided to conserve energy for the last stretch. Bart was going hard, though. They wanted to catch up and didn't even stop at the watering point."

Sahm continues: "We then attacked on the third last uphill and managed to take the lead to the finish, despite Karl's shoulder." Platt comments that he is afraid of tomorrow. "Now it's becoming a massacre. I'm sure Christoph and Burry are disappointed and will race hard to get the yellow jersey back, but we're happy that we could claim the leader jersey for at least one day and have a stage win behind our name."

Says Sahm: "There will never be an easy Cape Epic. This terrain is unforgiving. If you make the slightest mistake or aren't focused for a second, you can be lying on the ground the next moment. You have to stay focused on every single meter of the race. For us the Absa Cape Epic has become one of the most important races of the season. It was the first race that we ever rode together as a team and won (2007). We feel at home in South Africa and want to give spectators and followers an exciting race."

Burry Stander, who has been in the lead since the start of the race with team mate Christoph Sauser (, was very upset today, "I hit a tree, my wheel went sideways and the rim broke. Perhaps I've risked a bit too much. Max Knox wanted to give me his front wheel, but our forks didn't match. That's why we exchanged bikes. We pushed very hard to catch up with the others. However, I'm still feeling great."

Brandon Stewart's comment on today's events was simply: "It's pretty cool to be able to help someone. Yesterday we could help David George with a cartridge. Burry and Christoph have been racing so well, they deserve to win. That's why we wanted to help when they were in trouble. We were not competing for top honours and now we're just here to enjoy it. We would really help anybody if we can and hopefully that will pay off one day when we're in need."

According to Emil Lindgren (Felt Factory 2), they really wanted to win today. "The Bulls were just too strong and we couldn't keep up. We were with the leading pack the whole time." Adds his partner, Andreas Kugler: "We really enjoyed the stage today. It was our kind of terrain, especially the technical sections. We're both still keen to win a stage as it was our main goal. We haven't given up on it yet. Maybe not tomorrow, but at some stage."

Mixed Category Domination By Sydor and Pfitzenmaier

There were no surprises in the Mixed category today, with Nico Pfitzenmaier and Alison Sydor (Adidas Big Tree) still hanging on to their lead. They finished in a time of 05:13:27 (overall time – 19:51:36). They were again followed by Marcel Bartholet and Esther Süss (Wheeler – IXS Pro) in a time of 05:13:31 with only a 4-second gap between them. They maintain their overall 2nd position (20:30:51). In third place today were Lukas Kubis and Ivonne Kraft (Haibike – VMT Afripex) in a time of 05:22:00 (4th place overall in 21:21:49). Paul Cordes and Yolande Speedy (IMC/ Momentum GT/ Activeworx) are still in the third place overall (21:00:23), but finished in fourth place today (05:27:12).

Nico Pfitzenmaier (Adidas Big Tree) says: "After the false start I lost my nutrition bottle, so I wasn't consuming enough calories. We were riding well and then I had a puncture. My tyre was ripped at the side so I had to put in a tube, which had a creeping flat. I had to stop all the time to pump it up again. So I was speeding ahead to gain time, and then stopped to pump. In the riverbed towards the end there was no air left, so I had to ride the last 2 km to the finish on my rim. I can really feel that in my legs now."

Fourty year-old Rebecca Rusch from Idaho, USA, is also competing this year. The well-known cyclist, who has participated in various World Championships, entered the race with her partner, Matthew Weatherley-White as Team Specialized/Red Bull, and they are ranked in the fifth position after Stage 4 within the Mixed category.

Rusch has a list of victories behind her name. In 2003, she was the Raid Gauloises Adventure Racing World Champion, finished in first place in the 24 Hours of Moab Women's team in 2005, won the Solo Mountain Biking Nationals and finished second in the World in 2006. In 2007, she became the 24 Hour Solo Mountain Biking Champion. Last year Rusch remained in the top seed by once again dominating the World Championships.

Says Rusch: "I've been a professional athlete for more than 10 years and started mountain bike racing three years ago." She trains on a road bike, a mountain bike and spins indoors during winter. Her training also includes cross country skiing, running, backcountry skiing, rock climbing and a variety of other sports. "My partner this year is my coach, Matthew. We've done races together, but never cycling. We've been training together and he has been instrumental in turning me into a real cyclist," says Rusch.

Rusch believes that patience and teamwork are the most important ingredients to win the Absa Cape Epic. "It's a very long race, and just like adventure racing, people who are the fastest on the first day aren't always standing by the final day. You need to have the patience to pace yourself, recover well everyday and be able to keep the intensity for the duration of the entire race," she says. In terms of motivation, Rusch comments: "I enjoy challenging myself, be in the competitive scene of the event and winning the race. I can't think of another job that would be this fulfilling to me."

Commenting on this year's Absa Cape Epic, Rusch says that the race has been going okay so far. "In the beginning, we were affected by the heat as we came straight out of winter in Idaho. We also ran out of water and were suffering from cramps in the early stages." Since then, the team has been feeling more prepared for every challenge. "There are strong teams competing in the Mixed category this year," she says. "Normally I'd be disappointed ending in the 5th position overall. But actually I'm feeling really proud as we're racing against some of the most prolific athletes in the world."

Weatherley-White says that today's stage was different to what they had hoped for. "After the false start, we ended up at the end of the field. So we were not racing to win, but rather to maintain our fifth position – our relentless pursuit of the day. We actually had to pass 400 teams! It took us up to 2 hours to pass the 10th ranked mixed team, 3 hours to pass the 7th and four hours to reach our 5th position, going full steam the entire way. Things might have been different if the false start didn't set us back, but I don't believe in saying 'what if'."

He says that Rusch crashed during one of the descents today. "She is usually right behind me and when I looked back, she wasn't there. I got really worried. Once I found her, I saw that her bike's rim looked like a taco. We both stood on it to try and straighten it. It worked and fortunately we could finish in time. The terrain is really unforgiving. Everyone is tired and this event has become a real adventure racing experience. So if you make it through to the end, it already is an enormous achievement."

1 Team Bulls (Karl Platt/Stefan Sahm) 4:32:09
2 Felt Factory 2 (Emil Lindgren/Andreas Kugler) 0:13
3 Team Bulls 2 (Tim Boehme/Thomas Deitsch) 0:25
4 MTN Energade (Kevin Evans/David George) 1:15
5 Trek (Lukas Flückige/Mathias Flückiger) 3:54
6 Trek-Brentjens (Bart Brentjens/Chris Jongewaard) 5:57
13 Team songo-info (Christoph Sauser/Burry Stander) 26:21
81 Gasdocs (Rouan van der Leek/Werner Folscher) 1:39:05
108 Bow-Scape (Greg Stevenson/Jeff Neilson) 1:50:05
177 Red Road (Blaine Monaghan/Grant Prenevost) 2:33:33
211 Terranauts (Wynand Viljoen/Michael Elvidge) 2:52:57
303 Murderous Velocity (Faizan Dhanani/Paul Robertson) 4:20:00
312 Brothers Grimm (Issac Pretorius/Koos Pretorious) 4:38:08
1 Adidas Big Tree (Alison Sydor/Nico Pfitzenmaier) 5:13:26
2 WHEELER - iXS Pro (Esther Süss/Marcel Bartholet) at 0:04
3 Haikbike-VMT (Ivonne Kraft/Lucas Kubis) 8:33:00
4 IMC/Momentum GT/Activeworx (Yolande Speedy/Paul Cordes) 13:45:00
5 Cycle Lab Toyota Mixed (Johan Labuschagne/Yolandè De Villiers) 15:35
31 SchmoeScape (Alana Heise/Steve Walsh) 1:51:28
1 Absa Ladies (Hanlie Booyens/ Sharon Laws) 5:57:08
2 WSP – Jeep Girls (Robyn Adendorff/Sarah van Heerden) 35:22
3 TREAD Mag Ladies (Nolene Saunders/Sarah Wielopolska) 48:39
4 Coega Ladies (Anthea Gould/Andrea von Holdt) 1:02:19
5 Swiss Epic Girls (Sarah Koch/Daniela Hartmann) 1:10:38
1 CycleLab Totota (Shan Wilson/Andrew McLean) 4:59:57
2 ABSA Masters (Doug Brown/Barti Buchar) at 3:53
3 Van Loveren / SAND (Corrie Muller/Robert Sim) 21:26
4 Block / (Doug Andrews / Rich Bartlett) 40:42
5 Energade Masterclass (Greg Anderson / Glenn Williams) 43:43
106 Kimo and The Gator (Kim Odland/Drew Bell) 3:05:12
107 Alberta Clippers (George Hardisty/Matthew Hillhouse) 3:05:13
112 Hades (Dan Wray/Lake Arapakis) 3:14:13
1 Team Bulls (Karl Platt/Stefan Sahm) 17:25:36
2 Trek-Brentjens (Bart Brentjens/Chris Jongewaard) at 9:37
3 MTN Energade (Kevin Evans/David George) 14:20
4 Team songo-info (Christoph Sauser/Burry Stander) 19:29
5 Felt Factory 2 (Emil Lindgren/Andreas Kugler) 19:30
102 Gasdocs (Rouan van der Leek/Werner Folscher) 8:09:10
71 Bow-Scape (Greg Stevenson/Jeff Neilson) 7:15:46
216 Red Road (Blaine Monaghan/Grant Prenevost) 13:38:07
217 Terranauts (Wynand Viljoen/Michael Elvidge) 13:39:42
276 Murderous Velocity (Faizan Dhanani/Paul Robertson) 16:17:55
304 Brothers Grimm (Issac Pretorius/Koos Pretorious) 18:15:19
1 Adidas Big Tree (Alison Sydor/Nico Pfitzenmaier) 19:51:35
2 WHEELER - iXS Pro (Esther Süss/Marcel Bartholet) at 39:16
4 Haikbike-VMT (Ivonne Kraft/Lucas Kubis) 1:08:48
3 IMC/Momentum GT/Activeworx (Yolande Speedy/Paul Cordes) 1:30:14
5 Specialized / Red Bull (Rebecca Rusch/Matthew Weatherley-White) 2:09:10
27 SchmoeScape (Alana Heise/Steve Walsh) 8:15:35
1 Absa Ladies (Hanlie Booyens/ Sharon Laws) 23:18:53
2 WSP – Jeep Girls (Robyn Adendorff/Sarah van Heerden) at 3:25:42
3 TREAD Mag Ladies (Nolene Saunders/Sarah Wielopolska) 4:05:15
4 Coega Ladies (Anthea Gould/Andrea von Holdt) 5:16:46
5 Swiss Epic Girls (Sarah Koch/Daniela Hartmann) 6:13:32
1 ABSA Masters (Doug Brown/Barti Buchar) 19:23:33
2 CycleLab Totota (Shan Wilson/Andrew McLean) at 21:37
3 Van Loveren / SAND (Corrie Muller/Robert Sim) 2:02:11
4 Block / (Doug Andrews / Rich Bartlett) 2:30:34
5 2XtremeMasters (Dirk Rossignol/Ronny Roelandt) 3:01:52
81 Alberta Clippers (George Hardisty/Matthew Hillhouse) 11:12:57
105 Kimo and The Gator (Kim Odland/Drew Bell) 13:41:54
120 Hades (Dan Wray/Lake Arapakis) 15:21:23



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