Stage 6 of the Cape Epic from to Montagu to Villiersdorp was as tough as the previous ones. Many steep climbs and hike-a-bike sections on the 127.3 km course drained the already exhausted Epic teams, who have now ridden almost 750 kilometres since the race started last Saturday.
Stunning weather conditions with blue skies, temperatures over 30 degrees, and crystal clear views presented the picturesque scenery of the Overberg in perfect photo light.
Two days before the end of the Magical and Untamed African Race the Epic riders have become accustomed to their ’bike-eat-sleep’ routine, surviving the strain day by day. Meanwhile, many participants suffer from sore muscles, joints, and ligaments. Constant up- and downhills with short intervals wear out even the fittest among them. The steep technical climbs of yesterdays stage were backbreaking, especially for those struggling to finish.
What kills the frontrunners, on the other hand, is the race speed dictated by the unbreakable Giant duo of Bart Brentjens (NDL)/ and Roel Paulissen (BEL) who have lived up to their team name and scare even the top riders with their massive power.
"When Bart and Roel decide to hit the gas there is nothing you can do but try to follow", said Shan Wilson (RSA) of team Red Mr. Price.
Shan who completed the inaugural Cape Epic third overall was glad to have made it onto the stage podium yesterday with a third place in the Men’s results.
"Last year the race was a lot easier. We were basically cruising for a few hours and then decided together with Mannie and Karl to increase the pace. This year it is hard - you stay upfront and wait for the guillotine to fall on your head. Every day is another survival. But we are racing in a bunch of champions now and today is a big day for us, because we made it onto the podium."
Shan Wilson and his team partner Brandon Stewart (RSA) were hoping to make it into the top 10 this year, considering the first class field. With their current sixth place in the overall rankings they’ve already more than living up to their goals. "Getting closer and closer to home, our spirit is high and we have fire in our soul. We know the terrain that lies ahead, that does help mentally."
No unusual injuries
Although the Epic route is a lot tougher compared to last year’s, Medi-Clinic’s doctors, paramedics, and nurses don’t see much more injuries and nothing that they hadn’t expected.
"People come to us with pain in their knees or ankles; they have sore forearms from braking or scuffs and injuries from crashing", explained Cape Epic race doctor Basil Bonner.
The terrain is technically more difficult and that puts strain onto the joints and ligaments, so most injuries that we treat are classic bike injuries, for example fractures of arms or collar bones. Since the race is so hard, many people are too tired to eat and try to boost up their energy through special recipes and energy drinks. And that causes severe stomach problems.
They need to understand that their stomach is not more evolved than ten years ago. It is hard for them to accept that science doesn’t work that way." The race doctor carefully monitors the heat and the physical condition of the riders. "Most of them are fairly well prepared and luckily they are sensible enough to withdraw themselves when they are in too much pain", said Bonner.
Cape Epic for kids - the adidas school programme
Hundreds of children lined the finish in Villiersdorp yesterday, cheering and waving with beautiful handmade flags. After the top teams were in, they patiently stood in line at the adidas booth to present their international artwork.
To prepare the kids in the local communities through which the race passes for the Cape Epic, presenting sponsor adidas had printed 20 000 informative teaching flyers and produced 2 500 sets of crayons for the local schools.
With a little competition, the kids were encouraged to make a country flag of one of the 32 nations the Epic competitors come from and to bring them to the finish line. "The kids enjoyed it very much to learn about different countries and to make these flags", said Denver Hufka, teacher at Elands River primary school.
"The Epic opens their eyes. They learn about different nationalities, languages, and cultures. We will also look at the race village. All the children in my class must give a presentation tomorrow about different topics around the event to their classmates that didn’t come with us."
Results (all results are online under www.cape-epic.com)
1. Giant - Roel Paulissen (BEL), Bart Brentjes (NDL) - 4:10:22.61
2. Siemens Cannondale - Christoph Sauser (SUI), Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) - 4:10:22.64
3. Red Mr. Price - Shan Wilson (RSA), Brandon Stewart (RSA) - 4:30:53.92
1. Fiat/ Bianchi/ adidas 2 - Hannele Steyn-Kotze (RSA), Zoe Frost (RSA) - 5:07:51:64
2. Scott Ladies - Hanlie Booyens (RSA), Michelle Lombardi (RSA) - 5:23:43.51
3. Hai-Bike/ Scrane.de - Kirsten Rösel (GER), Petronella Hattingh (RSA) - 5:44:13.62
1. Specsavers - Linus Van Onselen (RSA), Frans van Zyl (RSA) - 4:41:03:71
2. Sauna Diana - Jan Siemons (NDL), Jos V. Aert (NDL) - 4:45:17:23
3. Willie Engelbrecht 2 - Bryan Strauss (RSA), M.C. Franken (RSA) - 4:45:33.76
1. Team Microsoft - Nic White (RSA), Anke Erlank (RSA) - 4:49:30:07
2. Fast n Fresh - Leon Erasmus (RSA), Liza Serfontain (RSA) - 5:03:26:96 3. Marsilio Projects - Tony Conlon (RSA), Yolande De Villiers (RSA) - 5:
Giant - Roel Paulissen (BEL), Bart Brentjes (NDL) - 25:18:01:44
Fiat/Bianchi/adidas 2 - Hannele Steyn-Kotze (RSA), Zoe Frost (RSA) - 33:03:37:17
Getaway/Mongoos - Friedrich Coleske (RSA), Doug Brown (RSA) - 29:44:36:33
Team Microsoft - Nic White (RSA), Anke Erlank (RSA) - 31:29:30.56
Today’s route had to be extended by 11 kilometres due to a bypass around Franschhoek, so the total distance on the way from Villiersdorp to Boschendal will sum up to 114.7 kilometres with 1875 metres of accumulated ascent. The riders can expect some great scenery crossing nature reserve areas and two major jeep track climbs.