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March 28/09 12:04 pm - Cape Epic: Sydor and Pfitzenmaier take Overall in Mixed Category

Posted by Editoress on 03/28/09

Sydor and Pfitzenmaier win overall in Mixed Category
The Adidas Big Tree team of Nico Pfitzenmaier and Alison Sydor won their category in an overall time of 32:13:10, having won 6 of the seven stages as well as the Prologue. In second place overall was the Wheeler – IXS Pro team Marcel Bartholet and Esther Süss in a time of 32:51:56. Paul Cordes and Yolande Speedy (IMC/ Momentum GT/ Activeworx) finished in third place overall (33:44:48) with Lukas Kubis and Ivonne Kraft (Haibike – VMT Afripex) in fourth (34:04:38).

Says Nico Pfitzenmaier of Adidas Big Tree: "It's been such an honour to ride for The Big Tree Foundation. It gave this race a whole new meaning for us. You have to admit that we're very blessed and privileged to be doing what we're doing, to be healthy and live the life we're living. I now live in South Africa and every day I see people that aren't as lucky as I am. It's really great to see that there's still hope in children's eyes and that they can be filled with joy and laughter, no matter how poor their standard of living may be. Sport and education can make all the difference to prevent children from losing track. Crime, drugs and alcohol are often just an escape from inhumane conditions. I hope we're able to create some awareness of the great work Big Tree is doing and that there are many more people out there who'll support them in future. Athletes can serve well as role models, and to top it all we can truthfully say that the money donated arrives where it's needed."

Adds his team mate Alison Sydor: "I had a bit of a mechanical issue with my frame last night. It wasn't repairable so the guys of team adidas Garmin helped me out with a bike. Since I was riding on a borrowed bike, I didn't want to risk anything so we went slow. We also had a side cut in one of our tyres which we had to repair with a tube. The final stage started a little stressful, but after that we were riding stress free. It's the best if you can really enjoy the final stage. Last year I said right after the race I want to come back and I did. I stayed with Nico in Stellenbosch prior to the race and we had a great time. South Africa is such a wonderful country. The people are very friendly, hospitable and generous. It's the people here that make me want to stay longer and come back all the time."

What will Sydor be doing this evening? "Eating something that doesn't have any sugar in it! We'll have a big SA braai with friends in Stellenbosch and I'm expecting a lot of good meat and some great red wine. My sister is here with me, so we'll enjoy the last hours before flying back home to Canada on Monday night."

Victory for Bulls after 8 days of Racing
The Bulls Team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm walked away with top honours as overall winners of this year's exciting Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas. With a four minute and 48 second lead time on Trek-Brentjens (placed second overall) at the start this morning, they crossed the finish line in 4th position today together with the team of Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander. They were welcomed by hundreds of enthusiastic spectators who welcomed the exhausted teams at the final finish line of this year's event, hosted at the Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset-West.

The Bulls finished the last 8 days of the Magical and Untamed Mountain Bike Race of 685km in an overall time of 28 hours, 10 minutes and 14 seconds. In second place was the Trek Brentjens team of Bart Brentjens and Chris Jongewaard in 28:15:08 – only 4 minutes and 54 seconds behind the leaders. In third place were Emil Lindgren and Andreas Kugler (Felt Factory 2) in a time of 28:28:43.

The South African team of Kevin Evans and David George (MTN Energade) finished in 4th place (28:41:00) overall and won the Leader Jersey of Best African Team.'s Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander, who set the pace for this year's race and won 5 of the 7 stages as well as the prologue, finished in 6th place overall (29:08:41).

The Bulls Team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm also won the Absa Cape Epic in 2007, and Karl Platt won in the inaugural year (2004) with Mannie Heymans. Platt is the most successful participant in the history of the race having won three times. Stefan Sahm, Roel Paulissen (who did not participate this year), Nico Pfitzenmaier, Doug Brown, Hanlie Booyens and Sharon Laws have all won the race twice. Kevin Evans won the title Best African Team three years in a row.

Says today's winner Stefan Sahm (Bulls Team): "Crossing the final finish line took a load off my mind. All the problems we had this year with Karl dislocating his shoulder twice, then riding in fear that it could happen again, and those small mechanical problems we had to face, all took its toll up to now. After all these obstacles, the joy is even greater. You can't compare winning the Absa Cape Epic to anything else. It's outstanding and for us the biggest and most important victory of all. It means the world to us."

To the question of why they are such a strong team, Sahm answers: "I'd say our friendship - that always comes first. We look after each other, respect each other, and would never do anything that could harm one another. And of course our experience plays a big part too. We don't need to communicate through talking, and know what to do by heart. It's almost like an atomized process because we know each other inside out."

Platt adds: "When we were crossing the finish line all together my thoughts were bouncing. We had so many highs and lows and sometimes made up time only to lose it again. Mentally and physically it was a very tough race and now in the end I'm unbelievably happy. After the prologue, I really didn't expect to win. My wife, father, brother and Stefan's girlfriend are here to celebrate with us. Tonight we'll have dinner at Moyo like we did in past years and then we'll move on to the legendary Nu-Bar where I think we'll meet everyone else. I guess I'll have to tape my shoulder again before we go partying tonight.  Then we'll go through the same routine again, forgetting about the pain we went through. A week from now we'll probably start talking about doing it again.

"Stefan said to me that I'm crazy to ride with my shoulder and that he could never do it. Hearing that from him was a huge compliment and motivated me to carry on. My answer was that we're here at a good race and we spent a lot of money to get here, so I can suffer. Perhaps we're not the strongest team, but probably the smartest. We didn't show our real strength every day and sometimes held back to recover for the next stage. We know how long this race is and also how important it is to conserve some energy for the end. This was my 17th stage race, so by now I have a lot of experience."

Men's Category
The seventh and final stage of the Absa Cape Epic was won by the Flückiger brothers, Mathias and Lukas (Trek World Racing), in a time of 02:36:19. They were followed by South Africans Max Knox and Brandon Stewart (DCM Chrome) in 02:36:45 with the Multivan Merida team of Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss in third place (02:40:40).

In a heart warming display of camaraderie two of the top teams in this year's race, the Bulls and, crossed the finish line at the same time, holding on to each other.  Their finishing time for today's stage was 02:51:44.

Says Mathias Flückiger (Trek World Racing), today's stage winner: "It was wonderful to win the final stage. We've had so much bad luck throughout the week with 2 chain breaks, 8 flat tyres, a derailleur, and more. However, we were riding well and always managed to catch up with the top bunch and maintain a good position in the GC (General Classification). I guess we were always riding a bit too fast on the down hills, and that's where we had most of our flats. Today we tried to be more careful and it really paid off. We also had very good legs and already realised that on the first climb when we quickly built up a gap. The others caught up with us in the running section (Voortrekker), because we didn't see the sign that we could get back on our bikes. We were still hiking when we saw the others riding up to us, but managed to break away a second time. We planned to do the same in Stage 3 when we built up a gap of 30 or 40 seconds, but then we had a flat and lost some time. Yesterday we were a bit tired, so only attempted it again today. When the gun went off this morning, it was all different. Winning a stage in this race is very special, but winning the last stage is absolutely incredible. Today there were the most spectators of all the days and the finish line was rocking. It was an awesome feeling. This race is very special and different to what we experience racing at the World Cup. The organisation is superb and being surrounded by 1 200 other mountain bikers every day, seeing them at dinner, at the start, at the finish and all that in another, beautiful country – unbelievable! You are riding through Africa, so the scenery is stunning. I think as a mountain biker you must experience this race at least once in your life!"

Says Brandon Stewart (DCM Chrome): "We broke away in the beginning on the first 3 or 4 km at the very steep climb. The other teams were probably a bit tired as they didn't follow us. It was part of our plan to do well on the first and on the last day, but unfortunately we had some bad luck in the Prologue. Today we didn't expect to get away so quickly and were thinking of a stage win when we were in the lead. The Flückiger brothers caught up with us in the rocky section. They were riding extremely well through the rocks and we didn't want to risk anything so we slowed down. On the last flat stretch they had a 10 second lead. I must admit that this year's Absa Cape Epic was a lot of fun. I wasn't feeling too well prior to the race and wanted to ride myself into better health – today was testimony that it worked."

For Emil Lindgren of the Felt Factory 2 team that finished in third place overall, today was quite a relaxed day. "It started like a Cross-Country race, but when three of the teams broke away, the top three teams decided to take it easy and were riding together. It was actually very enjoyable to reach the finish line without a problem. We really didn't expect to finish in third place overall. Crossing the finish line with some of the other teams was really special as it doesn't happen very often. A great friendship has developed between the riders and that's what makes this race so special.  We camped next to the Bulls for the last two nights and had loads of fun together. They're such nice guys. I also got some free German lessons on top of that. You meet so many new people at this race – you see and greet each other once or twice and the third time you start talking. It's an incredible experience and now I understand why the Absa Cape Epic is so popular."

His team mate, Andreas Kugler, adds; "Finishing this race on the podium was truly a surprise for us. Today's final stage started extremely fast, but then all the top teams in the GC decided to ride together at around the 20km mark when the other three teams broke away. It was a great atmosphere and we had a good time and some laughs out there. I didn't expect the finish so soon. For some reason, I was still looking for the second water point. It was awesome crossing the finish line with hundreds of people cheering you on. I don't think I've experienced anything like that before."

Ladies Category
First to cross the finish line in the Ladies was the Absa Ladies team of Hanlie Booyens and Sharon Laws. They won all of the stages as well as the Prologue and completed the race in 37:18:20. They were followed by Robyn Adendorff and Sarah van Heerden (WSP – Jeep Girls) in an overall time of 42:19:45. In third place in an overall time of 43:41:39 were Nolene Saunders and Sarah Wielopolska of the Tread Magazine Ladies team.
Says winner, Hanlie Booyens (Absa Ladies): "We tried to ride as hard as possible in order to compete with the whole field, not only the other ladies. I felt a bit tired the last two days, but Sharon was going strong. I must admit I also enjoyed this year's route much more than previous years. It was real mountain biking."

Masters Category
The Absa Masters Doug Brown and Bärti Bucher won the Master's division of this year's Absa Cape Epic in a time of 31:20:40. They were closely followed by Shan Wilson and Andrew Mclean (Cycle Lab Toyota) in 31:23:46, with Doug Andrews and Rich Bartlett (Block/ in third place overall (31:47:52).
Absa Masters team member Doug Brown, says this year's race was very close. "Too close for comfort actually. After yesterday when everything went wrong, I was suspicious of today and expected for something to happen – this is a high-risk sport. We had a good warm-up this morning and were riding well. Bärti is such a fantastic partner – he's like a rock wall. I think I'm getting a little too old for this race. My body feels old after this week, but it's still nice to beat all the young guys."

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