Canadian Cyclist


April 3/08 6:10 am - Cape Epic Stage 6: photos, report & results

Posted by Editoress on 04/3/08

Cape Epic Stage 6 - MTN Energade win stage to Hermanus
Report courtesy organizers


For the first time since winning the Prologue, the MTN Energade team of Kevin Evans (RSA) and David George (RSA) sprinted first across the finish line in Hermanus for the 6th stage of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas - their first stage win for this year's event (4:53:01).

Stage winners from the day before, the Bulls team of Karl Platt (GER) and Stefan Sahm (GER), secured a second place two seconds later at 4:53:03.They were followed one second later by the overall leaders Cannondale Vredestein, Roel Paulissen (BEL) and Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), who aggressively defended their yellow jersey honours at a time of 4:53:04.

After encountering numerous problems the day before, including having to ride the final 18km on a rim during Stage 5 (Roel Paulissen) and finishing in fifth position, the Cannondale Vredestein team worked hard to ensure that they hang on to a comfortable overall lead of nine minutes over the Bulls (29:25:11 for Cannondale Vredestein and 29:34:25 for Bulls). MTN Energade will have to work hard to catch up with the Bulls, who enjoy a seven and a half minute advantage (MTN Energade is at 29:41:55). They do however have a ten minute lead over Dolphin Trek, who is in the fourth position with an overall time of 29:52:22.

Mountains give way to ocean views
For Stage 6, Absa Cape Epic participants travelled from Bredasdorp to Hermanus (130km, 2 095m climbing). The start out in Bredasdorp offered fast gravel roads through the surrounding farmland. A rugged warm-up climb followed by a loose descent got riders ready for the day's big challenge: Salmonsdam Nature Reserve. It was 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, made it worth the effort. But the finish line was still far away. A short stretch on tar gave riders a welcome rest before dirt roads and farm tracks headed for the sea. A quick nip over the dunes took riders into the shores of Walker Bay to cross the Stanford River mouth - a knee-deep wade before they reached the spectacular finish at the Old Hermanus Harbour.

Time bonus awarded to Bulls
A Time bonus was once again awarded during Stage 6, similar to Stage 2. This was the first time in the 5-year history of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas that time bonus advantages were introduced at various hotspots in the race. Although time bonuses are common in road stage races, the Absa Cape Epic is the first mountain bike stage race to introduce the concept to mountain biking.

Overall leader Jakob Fuglsang (Cannondale Vredestein) says that they were taking it easier today on the downhill, because they didn't want to risk a flat. “Instead, we went full blast on the uphill,” he says. His teammate Roel Paulissen says that all the participants had to cope with headwinds for the entire day, as well as deal with corrugated road for 40km. “We absolutely hated it as we could only go 17-20 km/h and had to work really hard. We were grateful that we were riding in a group of three strong teams, but it was almost too few riders to share the hard work.” He adds that the beginning of the stage was already tough, but teams had to still cope with a difficult part during the end - a 35 to 40km long washboard killer. “I feel sorry for the amateurs as it was not an easy challenge. Until the first climb we were a group of 50 to 60 riders. Then at the first water point Bart Brentjens stopped so briefly that we had to rush back on our bikes to get to him. I started to attack at the first long climb at Salmonsdam.” Following this, Fuglsang took the lead, but soon fell behind again and Paulissen waited for him. It was during the downhill that the Bulls team decided to go full blast for the time bonus.

Stefan Sahm (Bulls) says, “At the long climb Roel was attacking really hard. I needed at bit more time at the water point to put oil on my chain and thought 'please don't let it be another huge gap that we must close'. Fortunately we could close the gap quite quickly and when we had caught them on top of the mountain we took a risk on the downhill and went full blast. When we arrived on our own at the bottom, we carried on to grab the time bonus.”

MTN Energade was also aiming for the time advantage, but the Bulls team was so fast they couldn't keep up the pace. “I was very impressed with David's performance on that downhill,” says Evans. “He gained so much experience and learnt so much during this last week of the Absa Cape Epic. Four days ago we would have lost four to five minutes on that downhill. Today it was only 60 seconds!”

At the hot spot 3km in front of Water Point 3, the Bulls team were 1.05 min ahead and comfortably won the time bonus, followed by MTN Energade (2nd) and Cannondale Vredestein (3rd). The Bulls team, who won stage 5 the day before, received a 40 second bonus for their victory. MTN Energade in second place welcomed their 20 second time bonus. Overall leaders Cannondale Vredestein gained 10 second from the time bonus to add to their overall lead.

Dolphin-Trek, Bart Brentjens (NED) and Alban Lakata (AUT), together with Full-Dynamix Rsm, Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) and Massimo Debertolis (ITA) and USN/adidas, Brandon Stewart (RSA) and Max Knox (RSA) crossed the hot spot next, but they were already 5:30 minutes behind. All of the top riders agreed that it was a long ride to the finish and that the race felt tougher than the previous stage.

A homerun for David George
For stage winner David George the victory was not only an emotional high as it was his second win in a Mountainbike race ever (1st was the 2008 Absa Cape Epic Prologue), but the location also played a very special part as he grew up and played in Hermanus a lot as a child. His grandmother still lives here.

“David actually said eight months ago that he would love to win in Hermanus in front of his family,” says Evans. “Winning in such a competitive, world class field makes the victory even sweeter. We are both sure that one of the top riders who come out of the Absa Cape Epic will win the first world cup as they are in such good shape and are getting stronger every day.” George says that they tried to break away 5km before the finish line. “This was the only stage in which I knew what the last kilometres would look like, because I know Hermanus so well. Our objective was to make the podium and that's what we achieved today. We're grateful that the next two days are the shortest, but I don't think they will be easy though.” Evans says that if they continue to feel strong and are not struck by bad luck they can make it on the GC podium which would be an amazing success for them. “This will be the first time since 2004 if we do make it. Back in 2004 the race was not so competitive yet”. To date, Evan's Absa Cape Epic highlight was a third place win in 2005 with Silvio Wieltschnig from Austria.

Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) of Full Dynamix-Rsm, who came in 5th today, says that for the first three days of the Absa Cape Epic he felt good and was very motivated, while his riding partner Massimo Debertolis (ITA) was struggling. “Since this is a team race you just have to stick by your partner. But now it is just the other way around. Yesterday and today I suffered. I can't ride strong all the way to the finish and if you go on you suffer too much and it is hard to recover from that. So as I weakened Massimo regained his strength which is really frustrating. But we were 5th today and are 6th overall in a world-class field which is a great achievement”.

Rocky Mountain back on top
After settling for the runner-up position for the last two stages (4 and 5) of the Absa Cape Epic, the Rocky Mountain team of Pia Sundstedt (FIN) and Alison Sydor (CAN) were back in top form during Stage 6 to claim top honours in the ladies category (5:45:01). They won the first three stages of this year's event. It was no surprise therefore that Trek/VW Wsd, Susan Haywood (USA) and Jennifer Smith (NZL), completed their stage race in second place (5:57:21), almost twelve minutes later (after winning Stage 4 and 5). Third was Scott Contessa, Jane Seggie (RSA) and Ischen Stopforth (RSA), not far behind Trek/VW Wsd (6:20:24).

Overall results reveal that Rocky Mountain are still in the lead (35:04:16), and comfortably so with Trek/VW Wsd over an hour behind at 36:12:53, followed by Scott Contessa at 38:14:15, the Ladies division will most likely not provide any surprises in the last two stages. However, leading teams in previous years have learned the lesson that anything can still happen and the race is only over at the finish line in Lourensford.

Rim drama - the sequal
Adidas William Simpson, Shan Wilson (RSA) & Walter Platzgummer (ITA), claimed their second stage win in this year's Absa Cape Epic when they completed Stage 6 at a time of 5:29:25. Pragma Masters, M.C. Franken (RSA) and Peter Buggle (IRE), arrived 8 minutes later when they crossed the finish line at 5:37:04. The usual leaders in this category (who up to now won four stages), the Absa Masters, Doug Brown (RSA) and Barti Bucher (SUI), only arrived minutes later at a time of 5:41:45.

Similar to Cannondale Vredestein yesterday, the Absa Masters encountered a major wheel problem when a valve went through Doug Brown's rim cutting his tyre. “Today was the first time that we used this Ambrosio rim made of aluminium and as Murphy's law would have it, this particular one contained a manufacturing defect,” says Dough Brown. “After this happened, we almost gave up. We sat there for 20 minutes not knowing what to do and whether there was any tech zone nearby. Eventually we heard some cheering and thought we were close to a water point so we pushed on. It turned out that the applause was only locals on the road, but they told us the next vantage point was only 4km away. That gave us a boost of motivation and we carried on. I was riding on my rim and Barti pushed me as we had learned from Cannondale Vredestein. At the vantage point we were rescued from our misery and started chasing Adidas William Simpson. In the end, we only lost 12 minutes. But we are absolutely exhausted.”

Despite only claiming a third place win, Absa Masters are still enjoying an overall lead time of 32:54:23. Adidas William Simpson's second place overall time of 33:03:57 proves that they will have to work hard during the final two stages if they want to make up the nine minutes difference between them and Absa Masters. With a difference of almost an hour between the second overall team and the Pragma Masters in third place (34:01:13), Absa Masters and Adidas William Simpson will most likely fight it out for the top honours.

One second difference in Mixed category stage race
For the third stage in a row, Joybike-Maloja Express, Ivonne Kraft (GER) and Nico Pfitzernmaier (GER), dominated the Mixed category when they crossed the finish line at a time of 5:56:18 - one second ahead of Cyclelab Toyota, Johan Labuschagne (RSA) and Yolande de Villiers, at (5:56:19). Third was Absa Mixed, Kobus Barnard (RSA) and Fienie Barnard (RSA), at 5:59:56.
The Joybike team still head the Mixed field in the overall results (35:40:09), followed by Cyclelab Toyota (35:58:28), and Absa Mixed (36:57:46).

Global village
If you stroll through the Absa Cape Epic race village in the evening, you can hear about 20 different languages as riders from 41 different countries camp ‚door to door'. Riders never know who might end up as their ‚neighbours' and whether they'd be able to understand each other, because they pick their tents as they come in at every stage. Thus the Absa Cape Epic camp is a little microscopic representation of the world, stretched over a school sports field. The only difference - people treat each other like family.

50-year old Alfredo Montenegro (421-2) from Brazil participates in his first ever Absa Cape Epic. He rides with his friend Paulo Brandão in the Masters category. He enjoys the race tremendously and jokes that it is „very easy.“ His front porch is the centrepoint for the Brazilians joining this year's race, a total of 16 riders, 6 volunteers and 6 day-trippers. “Some of these guys I knew before the event, others I've met here. Now we all sit together in the evenings like we've known each other forever,” Montenegro says. He was informed about the Absa Cape Epic through a friend who competed in the event last year together with Brazilian journalist Mario Roma. Other Brazilians saw the Magical and Untamed African Mountain Bike Race on ESPN Brazil. “We watched Renata Falzoni's show about the Absa Cape Epic and we instantly knew that this would be an adventure of a lifetime. So we signed up for the lottery and we hit the jackpot. Next year, the Brazilians say, they will send more of their Brazilian troops. And they will return themselves, naturally.

Hailing from Johannesburg, South Africa, Roelof van Huyssteen (153-1) and Daniel Prinsloo (153-2) compete in their second Absa Cape Epic. They returned after last year's inaugural experience, as they wanted to face the challenge one more time. “You actually hate the Epic when you are busy with it, but a few weeks after the event you miss the physical and psychological challenge, the magnificent scenery and the camaraderie,” says van Huyssteen. “You cannot describe the emotions on the last 100 metres in Lourensford. Those moments make up for all the pain and all the deprivation you endured prior to and during the event. You have been in the saddle for 8 days, you are exhausted, but you are so proud of what you have achieved.” Just like last year, their families and friends are accompanying them for the last stages. “They joined us in Bredasdorp last night and cheer us on at every single water point,” says Prinsloo. “You really cannot do this without them. They are part of the training, they have to take a backseat for months, they look after you, encourage you, basically they are your physical and emotional sponsors.” To date, van Huyssteen and Prinsloo had a great Absa Cape Epic experience. “We have been very lucky as we had no hiccups. Both, body and bike survived the strain. However, we didn't spare a thing, not in terms of money or hours while we prepared ourselves for this event. In fact, we couldn't have a proper relationship for the past six months, because all our time and finances were dedicated to get us across that final finish line.” Van Huyssteen and Prinsloo have been friends for five years. They are the only two out of their cycling training group that had the guts to ride the Absa Cape Epic. When they signed up for the lottery last year, they got in on their first try and lightning struck twice as they also won a slot this year. Will they also sign up a third time one may wonder? Prinsloo says no and van Huyssteen says “I never say never. Maybe they'll come up with an exciting new range of adidas Amabubesi apparel next year and I'll change my mind…”

John Bullens (482-1) and Patrice Vercammen (482-2) from the Netherlands have significant stage race experience, but neither have ridden the Absa Cape Epic before nor have they participated in a stage race together until now. “John is my boyfriend”, says Vercammen, “and he is used to partnering with men for stage races. Riding in the Mixed category with me is actually more difficult for him.” And he adds: “That's because I cannot go as hard as I am used to and I have to push her at times which actually exhausts me as well.” Bullens has won the Masters category at the 2006 Transrockies Challenge. While his girlfriend would be satisfied to only finish the race, Bullens started to become ambitious seeing the standings after the first two stages. “I am riding at my max now”, says Vercammen who also participated in the 2006 Transrockies Challenge and the 2007 TransGermany in the Ladies category. “In fact, I am riding faster than ever before. But I must admit I'm enjoying it. I don't think I would like to ride this race in the Ladies category, because it is really tough. I can totally rely on John which gives me that extra boost of confidence.” For Vercammen today's stage 6 was her best performance so far as the route profile was very similar to what she's used to at home. “For the first time I had to ride today without pushing her,” says Bullens. Based on the Absa Cape Epic experience, they can foresee participating together in more stage race adventures around the world.

Drawing attention with their tiger-print outfits, it is hard to miss the Afripex 'Tygirs'. They stick out! The long-sleeve, long-legs outfit is a lot 'cooler' than what it looks like. “As soon as you start sweating the fabric cools you down. It can even get a bit cold on cool mornings inside the forest. And, in contrast to everyone else, we don't have a sunburn problem and we don't accidentally rub any sunscreen into our eyes as we don't need it,” says Simon Hough (278-1). For Hough it is the second Absa Cape Epic. This year he also wants to do Transrockies and some other stage races. For his first Absa Cape Epic he rode with a different partner who was much stronger than him, but who was pushing the envelope too far and had to drop out on day 4 due to knee injuries. By himself, Hough completed the remaining stages. This year, he says, the route is much nicer except for the sand sections which he didn't like at all as they were “hell on your knees. I'd rather climb another mountain or ride another furious downhill.” For his second epic experience, Hough has an ideal partner with whom he has participated in several mountain bike events. “We match well, both on a physical and psychological level.” Yesterday the team enjoyed a great day. “We took it easy and were the mechanics for a lot of people out on route. We helped a Brazilian team, for instance, that broke a derailleur and had no idea how to open the chain. We actually helped them twice that day and when we crossed the finish line after them, because we had also helped a few girls fix their punctured tyres, they were already waiting for us with a couple of cool beers.” Asked what his connection to Afripex was, Hough replies: “I'm the MD. When I climbed in the shower last year and they were awful I said to Kevin Vermaak after the race he must change the boilers and so we became a sponsor and replaced them. There's still a lot more to be done, but we didn't have the time this year. For next year I would like to collect the water that is causing flooding around the shower trucks and create changing facilities so that you can undress before you enter the shower. Saying this, I am already looking forward to next year's race. It may sound crazy, but it's true.”

Next stop: Elgin (Grabouw)
For Stage 7 - the second last stage challenge of this year's Absa Cape Epic - riders will find a shorter route, but it will not be easy! Covering 91km and 1 984m of climbing, participants will immediately be faced with the steep tar ascent up Rotary Drive, granting riders scenic views back over the seaside town of Hermanus and Walker Bay. The route descends through Hamilton Russel and heads for Babilonstoring Nature Reserve to navigate the sandy and rocky jeep tracks. After crossing the R44, the next challenge awaits - a loose climb gaining 500m in altitude up to Lebanon Nature Reserve. Then it is singletrack time through the Lebanon forest! A quick dip under the N2 will take riders to some more fast-flowing singletrack. Then they will have to find their way up and down steep vineyeards to their overnight location at Elgin (Grabouw).

1. Rocky Mountain (Pia Sundstedt/Alison Sydor)5:45.00
2. Trek/VW WSD (Susan Haywood/Jennifer Smith)5:57.21
3. Scott Contessa (Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA)6:20.23
4. Absa Ladies (Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA)6:56.12
5. Valhalla (Petruschka Constancon/Louise Hemmes)7:05.27
1. MTN Energade 1 (Kevin Evans/David George)4:53.01
2. Bulls (Karl Platt/Stefan Sahm)4:53.02
3. Cannondale Vredestein (Roel Paulissen/Jakob Fuglsang)4:53.03
4. Dolphin (Bart Brentjens/Alban Lakata)5:01.35
5. Full-Dynamix Rsm (Fredrik Kessiakoff/Massimo Debertolis)5:03.42
6. USN (Brandon Stewart/ Max Knox)5:07.22
7. Alb-Gold Mountainbike (Hannes Genze/Jochen Kaess)5:09.47
8. Team ETTO Hoydahl 1 (Jo Nordskar/Anders Hovdenes)5:09.47
9. Etto Hoydahl 3 (Martin Bratland/Kristian Torgersen)5:14.17
10. Red / Mr.Price (Oliver Munnik/Erik Kleinhans)5:21:06
12. Trek/VW (Jeremiah Bishop/Chris Eatough)5:23.45
207. FAMA (Gavin Brown/Michael Golinski)8:14.03
NA. Perfect Strangers ( Werner Folscher)6:58.06
1. Adidas William Simpson (Shan Wilson/Walter Platzgummer )5:29.24
2. Pragma Masters (M.C. Franken /Peter Buggle)5:37.04
3. Absa Masters (Doug Brown/Barti Bucher)5:41.44
4. Private Client Holdings (AJ Cillie/Leon Oliver)5:56.33
5. CHAMIZO-SPORTFUL (Franky Taelman/Danny Flies)5:57.13
61. Kandu (Jeff Levin/John Ramsden)7:58.11
1. Joybike Guided by VMT and Maloja (Ivonne Kraft/Nico Pfitzenmaier)5:56.18
2. Cyclelab Toyota (Johan Labuschagne/Yolande de Villiers )5:56.19
3. Absa Mixed (Kobus Barnard/Fienie Barnard)5:59.55
4. Unicef Austria 1 (Anita Waiss/Andreas Muhlbacher)6:09.48
5. Adidas-Medsport-Checker pig ( Markus Pielenz/Sandra Sumerauer)6:15.41
26. Blueline (Cathy Ross/Chuck Fortier)8:19.46
1. Rocky Mountain (Pia Sundstedt/Alison Sydor)35:04.16
2. Trek/VW WSD (Susan Haywood/Jennifer Smith)36:12.53
3. Scott Contessa (Jane Seggie (RSA) & Ischen Stopforth (RSA)38:14.14
4. Absa Ladies (Erica Green (RSA) & Hanlie Booyens (RSA)38:56.47
5. Valhalla (Petruschka Constancon/Louise Hemmes)43:49.19
1. Cannondale Vredestein (Roel Paulissen/Jakob Fuglsang)29:25.10
2. Bulls (Karl Platt/Stefan Sahm)29:34.25
3. MTN Energade 1 (Kevin Evans/David George)29:41.55
4. Dolphin (Bart Brentjens/Alban Lakata)29:52.22
5. Alb-Gold Mountainbike (Hannes Genze/Jochen Kaess)29:52.27
6. Full-Dynamix Rsm (Fredrik Kessiakoff/Massimo Debertolis)30:24.43
7. USN (Brandon Stewart/ Max Knox)30:45.30
8. Etto Hoydahl (3) - Martin Bratland/Kristian Torgersen)31:24.49
9. Etto Hoydahl (2) (Rune Hoydahl/Ola Kjoren)31:41.00
10. MTN Energade (2) (Mannie Heymans/Melt Swanepoel)31:50.02
11. Trek/VW (Jeremiah Bishop/Chris Eatough)32:18.12
241. FAMA (Gavin Brown/Michael Golinski)54:47.50
1. Absa Masters (Doug Brown/Barti Bucher)32:54.23
2. Adidas William Simpson (Shan Wilson/Walter Platzgummer )33:03.56
3. Pragma Masters (M.C. Franken /Peter Buggle)34:01.13
4. Private Client Holdings (AJ Cillie/Leon Oliver)36:23.13
5. ORACLA (Claudio Pellegrini/Orazio Casaccio)36:35.00
58. Kandu (Jeff Levin/John Ramsden)49:11.39
1. Joybike Guided by VMT and Maloja (Ivonne Kraft/Nico Pfitzenmaier)35:40.09
2. Cyclelab Toyota (Johan Labuschagne/Yolande de Villiers )35:58.28
3. Absa Mixed (Kobus Barnard/Fienie Barnard)36:57.46
4. X.O Felt Swiss (Adrian Burri/Franziska Roethlin)37:52.17
5. Adidas-Medsport-Checker pig ( Markus Pielenz/Sandra Sumerauer)39:18.11
26. Blueline (Cathy Ross/Chuck Fortier)50:29.23


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