Canadian Cyclist


April 1/08 2:08 am - Cape Epic Stage 3: photos, report and results<

Posted by Editor on 04/1/08

Cape Epic Stage 3 - Paulissen and Fuglsang Take Lead
Courtesy organizers


Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas provided thrilling surprises and excitement, with overall leaders Songo.Info dropping out of the race, and the first three teams crossing the finish line within seconds of each other.

The Cannondale Vredestein team - Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) - took their second stage win when they were the first to cross the finish line for Stage 3, at a time of 4:16:02. This was only 1 second ahead of the South African team of MTN Energade (Kevin Evans and David George) at 4:16:03. Another five seconds later the German Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm crossed the finish line, at 4:16:07, ensuring an exciting sprint for spectators and enthusiasts waiting at the finish line in the town of Riversdale.

Although Karl Platt (Bulls) was the first to cross the finish line, the rules of the Absa Cape Epic stipulate that both riders from a team need to cross the finish line before the official time is allocated, with Sahm's 4:16:07 used as the stage result. He was still struggling from gastric problems, which no doubt caused a loss of energy and took its toll.

The South African/Swiss team of Songo.Info, the overall leaders after stage 2, dropped out of the race during Stage 3. Burry Stander (RSA) suffered from a knee injury and had to withdraw at waterpoint 2, which also meant the end of the road for his teammate, World and European marathon mountain bike champion Christoph Sauser (SUI).

1112 riders still in the race
Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic saw riders complete their stage journey from Calitzdorp to Riversdale, with a distance of 133km and climbing of 2 340m. Of the 1198 riders who left Knysna on Saturday, 1112 were still in the race this morning. 15 riders were competing with a blue number board, meaning they can still ride the Absa Cape Epic, but can't compete for overall results, because they haven't completed one of the stages.

The teams were taken up a 13 km steady drag on smooth dirt roads over Rooiberg Pass. It was a long climb that steepened to 9% before a 70kph decent into the valley. After some sharp, rolling hills, riders crossed game country, where antelope, giraffe, leopard, and caracal watched the riders charge through. From there on the terrain was tough. Maximum concentration was needed to preserve bike and body. The rock formations were as geologically fascinating as they were race threatening (should riders have chosen a bad line or made a bad tyre choice). Even after riders survived the punctures and the heat, there was still a long slog on dirt roads before Garcia Pass. They welcomed the tarred, gentle climb and fast descent that took them into Riversdale, for a hard-earned rest.

Paulissen and Fuglsang now in yellow
Fuglsang says that despite the stage win, which also gave them the overall lead for the yellow jersey, he was not feeling good during this stage of the Absa Cape Epic. "I especially struggled with the technical climbs and loose rocks, but fortunately Roel felt strong. The stage was partially very flat, but quite hard as it was very bumpy at times and I don't particulalry like that." Paulissen says that he is now feeling much better after struggling for the first part of the event, saying that he can see how he gets stronger by the day.

David George and Kevin Evans were eager to win this stage, but "with only a second between us and Cannondale Vredestein, I don't think we did too badly." The MTN Energade team says they managed to ride with the leading teams throughout the race, which gave them a boost of confidence as "we could see the potential we have when we're feeling well". Both say that if they didn't have a bad day during stage 1 (where he fell ill), they would still be competing for the leaders' jersey, but that it falls into the "could have, what if" category.

Commenting on fellow South African rider Burry Stander's injury and subsequent withdrawal from the race, George says "Burry is an extremely talented guy and has the ability to push himself over and above, and that clearly took its toll. When you are young and inexperienced this sometimes happens. But he has a big future ahead of him and he mustn't be too disappointed."

Brandon Stewart and Max Knox take a chance
For most of the stage race, the South African team USN with Brandon Stewart and Max Knox, who came fourth, took the lead. On top of Rooibergpass they were already leading by 45 seconds, a gap that built up to 6 minutes later in the race. The leading teams in the overall ranking didn't feel threatenened as they were no danger to them and allowed the Usn team to shine. At Garcia Pass, Bulls and MTN Energade sped up and pushed harder as they were eager to win the stage and catch up on their overall ranking. Usn was eventually caught on the top of Garcia Pass when the top three teams took the lead for the remainder of the race.

Alb-Gold Mountainbike now in second position overall
The German Alb-Gold Mountainbike team (who crossed the finish line in fifth position) encountered their first flat tyre 50 metres into the race, riding over a thorn. By the time they fixed it, 300 amateur riders had passed them. It took them 20 minutes to get back to the leading bunch. 60km into the race, Hannes Genze started to experience a loss of energy and had to let the other leading teams go, which left them between 30 to 60 seconds behind for most of the time. Approximately15 to 20 km before to the last waterpoint, they caught up with the Dolphin team and worked together to close the gap between them and the leading bunch. "We realised at one point that we couldn't catch up, so we just rode at our own pace to keep our energy for the next stage - and rode to the finish with team Dolphin," Genze says. Still, their pace was fast enough to claim second position overall.

No smooth start for the ladies
It was a hat trick for the Rocky Mountain team, Pia Sundstedt (FIN) and Alison Sydor (CAN), when they crossed the finish line first in their category for the third stage in a row, at an impressive time of 4:58:00. South Africans Erica Green and Hanlie Booyens, the Absa Ladies, managed for the first time to take the runner-up honours in this category, at 5:16:49 (they were fourth for both Stage 1 and Stage 2). Dolphin-Trek Mtb Racing - Fabienne Heinzmann (SUI) and Katrin Schwing (GER) - arrived third at a time of 5:25:13.

It is therefore no surprise that Rocky Mountain will wear the leader jersey yet again for Stage 4, with an overall time of 17:31:30, almost an hour ahead of Dolphin-Trek Mtb Racing at 18:29:11. Close on their heels is Trek/VW WSD at 18:29:39.

Despite their continuous success of winning every stage thus far, Sydor says that they are greeted with obstacles every day. "Not a single day seems to run smoothly. Today, only 2km from the start, we had a big crash that involved many of the top females including myself, Pia and Fabienne of Dolphin-Trek Mtb Racing. It almost took out a good portion of the top female riders!"

She explains that in a descent with a little hump in the road, coupled with excessive dust from other riders which made it difficult to see, the crash was inevitable. "You could feel it coming, but there was nothing you could do about it - in a situation like that you can only try not to ride into someone else or at least only their bike in order to minimise the damage." Sydor fell and hurt her knee, a similar injury to her riding partner Sundstedt's knee injury which she had from even before the race. "Now that we truly feel each others' pain, there is no reason to complain."

Despite the dramatic start to the day, Sydor said that this stage was far more of what she expected from South Africa in terms of terrain and scenery. "It was super fun, especially all the jeep tracks. It was of course still a tough route and we really enjoyed the tar section towards the end where we could relax our muscles a bit. We are delighted that we won again, of course, but apart from that we are also very happy with the riding experience."

Jennifer Smith (NZL) and Susan Haywood (USA) of Trek/VW WSD, who secured the fourth position, lost almost six minutes at the 71km mark. "We got a bad flat in the rocky terrain and we first pumped it up with air, but it was not working. We then changed the tube, without luck, and had to re-change it again for the second time. After that we were on our own, paddling against headwinds during the downhill to make up for lost time," says Smith. Arriving at the finish line completely out of breath, and with paramedics assisting her immediately, Smith added that she was worried when her heart rate on route wasn't bad, but she experienced muscular fatigue. "But at least it is easier to recover from muscular problems," she says.

Absa Masters continue to dominate
The Absa Masters, Doug Brown (RSA) and Barti Bucher (SUI), continue to dominate in their category for the third day in a row, boasting with a stage win of 4:46:10. Pragma Masters, M.C. Franken (RSA) and Peter Buggle (IRE) managed to secure the second position in this category for the first time, completing their stage race at 4:47:22. They were followed by Adidas Williams Simspon who up to now secured the second spot in every stage (4:50:52).

"It certainly was a good day for our sponsors Absa and adidas," says Kevin Vermaak, founder and director of the Absa Cape Epic. "We had the Absa Masters, Absa Ladies and Absa Mixed, as well as the adidas teams, all finishing within the top five positions. I am sure it must have been a thrill for them to see their teams perform and receive recognition on the podium today."

Unofficial broken chain record
For the first time since Stage 1 of the Absa Cape Epic, Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja had to not only see Cyclelab Toyota steal their usual stage win position (which they claimed during the previous stages), but also a slip of three positions to only secure the fourth place in today's stage. Cyclelab Toyota, Yolande de Villiers (RSA) and Johan Labuschagne (RSA), took top honours at a time of 4:58:09, followed by Absa Mixed, Kobus Barnard and Fienie Barnard (RSA) at 5:13:07, and Adidas Fourie Kotze, (RSA) and Amy Mundy (RSA) at 5:14:31. Ivonne Kraft (GER) and Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) of Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja completed their stage at a time of 5:20:24.

Pfitzenmaier comments on their gap: "My chain broke no less than four times today. Ivonne waited for me initially, but later on I told her to just go on without me and I would catch up with her and the group of riders. As fate would have it, I would catch up with them, just to have my chain break again moments later." Despite the misfortune, he says that he doesn't believe that it is bad luck. "It is just the nature of sport. Anything can happen in terms of equipment failures, especially during a mountain bike stage race. I won't let anything spoil my enjoyment of this experience." He concluded by saying that everyone was thrilled to see Yolande de Villiers of Cyclelab Toyota still in strong form, despite her shoulder injury from the day before.

Although only securing a fourth position for Stage 3, Joybike Guided by VMT and Maloja still walked away as the overall leaders in the Mixed category (17:55:12), followed by Cyclelab Toyota (18:06:35) and Absa Mixed (18:42:23).

Next stop: Swellendam
For Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic (Riversdale to Swellendam), the rolling hills through the farmlands will give the power riders a chance to ply their trade. Then come the big ones - heartbreak one and heartbreak two, the second of which is 4.5km long with a 7% gradient. After two days in the Karoo, riders pass through dairy country before heading into Grootvadersbosch, another Cape Nature jewel, and back into some lush forests again - a welcome shelter from the harsh sun. But there are more challenges to come - more climbing, technical descents and river crossings, passable only by foot, or on a mountain bike. A short tar section passes the historical mission village of Suurbraak - a town that is no stranger to the Absa Cape Epic. At the weir crossing it's only 12km home. Riders will however have to watch out for the short forest climbs that steepen up to 15% - it will take longer than expected to get into Swellendam.

Stage 3 - Calitzdorp to Riversdale 133 km
1 Cannondale Vredestein (Roel Paulissen/Jakob Fuglsang)4:16:02
2 MTN Energade 1 (Kevin Evans/David George)at 0:02
3 Bulls (Karl Platt/Stefan Sahm)0:06
4 USN (Brandon Stewart/ Max Knox)0:44
5 Alb-Gold Mountainbike (Hannes Genze/Jochen Kaess)3:56
6 Dolphin (Bart Brentjens/Alban Lakata)3:57
7 Full-Dynamix RSM (Fredrik Kessiakoff/Massimo Debertolis)6:20
8 MTN Energade 2 (Mannie Heymans/Melt Swanepoel)9:40
9 Etto Hoydahl 2 (Rune Hoydahl/Truls Haugseth)14:44
10 Ellsworth Primal Wear (Josiah Middaugh/Greg Krause)27:02
10 Trek/VW (Jeremiah Bishop/Chris Eatough)s.t.
170 Perfect Strangers (Werner Folscher/Pierre Billet)2:44:38
261 FAMA (Gavin Brown/Michael Golinski)3:43:12
1 Rocky Mountain (Pia Sundstedt/Alison Sydor)4:58:00
2 ABSA Ladies (Erica Green/Hanlie Booyens)at 18:50
3 Dolphin-Trek MTB Racing (Fabienne Heinzmann/Katrin Schwin)27:13
4 Trek/VW WSD (Susan Haywood/Jennifer Smith)28:07
5 Scott Contessa (Jane Seggie/Ischen Stopforth)31:31
1 ABSA Masters (Doug Brown/Barti Bucher)4:46:10
2 Pragma Masters (M.C. Franken /Peter Buggle)1:12
3 Adidas William Simpson (Shan Wilson/Walter Platzgummer)4:42
4 Marsilio Projects (Tony Conlon/Lieb Loots)22:50
5 Chamizo-Sportful (Franky Taelman Danny Flies)26:52
52 Kandu (Jeff Levin/John Ramsden)2:09:31
1 Cyclelab Toyota (Johan Labuschagne/Yolande de Villiers)4:58:09
2 ABSA Mixed (Kobus Barnard/Fienie Barnard)14:58
3 adidas (Fourie Kotze/Amy Mundy)16:21
4 Joybike Guided by VMT and Maloja (Ivonne Kraft/Nico Pfitzenmaier)22:14
5 X.O Felt Swiss (Adrian Burri/Franziska Roethlin)29:20
25 Blueline (Cathy Ross/Chuck Fortier)2:13:14
1 Cannondale Vredestein (Roel Paulissen/Jakob Fuglsang)14:43:50
2 Alb-Gold Mountainbike (Hannes Genze/Jochen Kaess)10:13
3 Bulls (Karl Platt/Stefan Sahm)15:47
4 MTN Energade 1 (Kevin Evans/David George)25:28
5 Dolphin (Bart Brentjens/Alban Lakata)27:25
6 Full-Dynamix RSM (Fredrik Kessiakoff/Massimo Debertolis)31:28
7 MTN Energade 2 (Mannie Heymans/Melt Swanepoel)48:40
8 USN (Brandon Stewart/ Max Knox)54:42
9 Etto Hoydahl 3 (Martin Bratland/Kristian Torgersen)1:15:42
10 Etto Hoydahl 2 (Rune Hoydahl/Truls Haugseth)1:18:42
11 Trek/VW (Jeremiah Bishop/Chris Eatough)1:33:44
183 Perfect Strangers (Werner Folscher/Pierre Billet)9:39:24
290 FAMA (Gavin Brown/Michael Golinski)13:40:07
1 Rocky Mountain (Pia Sundstedt/Alison Sydor)17:31:29
2 Dolphin-Trek MTB Racing (Fabienne Heinzmann/Katrin Schwin)at 57:42
3 Trek/VW WSD (Susan Haywood/Jennifer Smith)58:10
4 ABSA Ladies (Erica Green/Hanlie Booyens)1:13:41
5 Scott Contessa (Jane Seggie/Ischen Stopforth)1:41:04
1 ABSA Masters (Doug Brown/Barti Bucher)16:15:44
2 Adidas William Simpson (Shan Wilson/Walter Platzgummer)at 17:58
3 Pragma Masters (M.C. Franken /Peter Buggle)51:09
4 gpsupload:com (Doug Andrews/Rich Bartlett)1:56:05
5 Private Client Holdings (Andrew Johan Cillie/Leon Olivier)2:08:59
70 Kandu (Jeff Levin/John Ramsden)8:39:09
1 Joybike Guided by VMT and Maloja (Ivonne Kraft/Nico Pfitzenmaier)17:55:12
2 Cyclelab Toyota (Johan Labuschagne/Yolande de Villiers)at 11:23
3 ABSA Mixed (Kobus Barnard/Fienie Barnard)47:12
4 adidas (Fourie Kotze/Amy Mundy)47:22
5 Novatec - CK MTB Dohnany (Tomas LegnavskyJanka Stevkova)53:38
26 Blueline (Cathy Ross/Chuck Fortier)7:21:06


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