Stage three of the Cape Epic took the epic adventurers from Herbertsdale to Riversdale. Despite a course length of 104km (1435m) it was a relatively short day for the riders which revealed team tactics and gave competitors with road race experience a slight advantage.
With a fantastic stage performance Anke Erlank (RSA) and Nic White (RSA) of team Microsoft, the leading team in the mixed category, increased their advantage by 8 minutes to an impressive half hour buffer. They completed the stage in a time of 3 hours 50 minutes and 9.53 seconds, roughly 40 minutes behind the winning time of Brentjens/ Paulissen (3:09:01.13).
For roadie Nic White the Cape Epic is a complete new experience. He decided to participate in the race to improve his mountain bike skills and to have fun.
In Microsoft team colleague Anke Erlank, who also looks back on an impressive road career and was selected SA mountain biker of the year, he found a perfect partner for his Epic MTB experiment. "When we started riding together on Saturday it was like a blind date, because we haven’t trained together," Nic White said with a grin on his face.
"And the first day was really tough for us."
"It was actually the most horrible day in my mountain bike career," added Erlank. "But now we learned from the other teams and have discovered the ’bungee cord’. It actually allows you to climb the hills together and find a good rhythm instead of having to wait for one another all the time."
That stage riding is very difficult is no news to the experienced tour racers. Anke competed twice in the Tour de Femme (1998/99) and as a pro Nic rides tours for a living.
"Our daily challenge is to find a good group", Nic explained. "The Men are too fast on the hills for Anke so we often lose a group and have to wait for another one to catch us. But we came here to win the mixed category, so we are using every single slip that we can get.
And we definitely benefit from our experience how to stick to a bunch. I can nurse Anke through the difficult climbs by manipulating the group, trying to control the pace on the uphills, then we both use the downhills to the max."
When there is a water point at the bottom of a hill, Nic gives his team partner an advantage, lets her go ahead while he is getting water for both of them as he can catch up quickly. "We are trying to take it easy on the hills and go steady everywhere else", Anke said.
"So far we were riding in groups that are above my level, but way underneath Nic’s. If he was on his own he would ride with the top bunch."
With the comfortable buffer of 30 minutes they can start a bit more relaxed into the fourth stage tomorrow. "We will ride at our own pace, but we will not slow down. You can easily lose 10 minutes when you have a flat. But there will be a tight battle between team Fast n Fresh and Marsilio Projects. I think we will watch that tomorrow", laughed Nic.
Former Tour de France roadies lead masters category
Although they finished only in fifth place in the third stage, the Dutch team Sauna Diana with former road pros Jan Siemens (NDL) and Jos van Aert (NDL) continues wearing the blue adidas CAPE EPIC leaders jerseys of the masters category.
The two Dutchmen, who together completed 9 Tours de France, 5 Giro d’ Italias and represented the Netherlands 6 times at the Road World Championships, stopped their professional careers 10 and 12 years ago, respectively, and only do a little bit of mountain biking for pleasure.
"We actually started off too fast on the first two days and I had to pay the price today," says Jan Siemons. "My legs were sore and tired and Jos had to do all the work. When we read an article about the inaugural Cape Epic in the Dutch Fiets magazine, we decided to participate just for fun, but then we got carried away I guess.
We are simply too competitive."
Despite the time loss yesterday, team Sauna Diana still holds a lead of over 7 minutes to the second placed Getaway/Mongoos team. What only Dutch participants might know, the team name of the leading Masters is an indication of Jan Siemons’ second career after retiring as a pro cyclist; Jan is running a night club and brothel together with his brother named Sauna Diana, which is entirely legal in the Netherlands.
German fans can follow Epic on their mobiles
From today, German fans of the Cape Epic can follow the race on their mobile phone with MMS application. For a fee of 4.99 Euros they receive 10 MMS messages with photos, info, and video clips of every stage.
Results (all results are online at www.cape-epic.com)
1. Giant - Roel Paulissen (BEL), Bart Brentjes (NDL) - 3:09:01.13
2. Siemens - Christoph Sauser (SUI), Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE) - 3:11:03:14
3. Rocky Mountain - Carsten Bresser (GER), Karl Platt (GER) - 3:
1. Scott Ladies - Hanlie Booyens (RSA), Michelle Lombardi (RSA) - 4:07:38.19
2. Fiat/ Bianchi/ adidas 2 - Hannele Steyn-Kotze (RSA), Zoe Frost (RSA) - 4:08:08.18
3. Hai-Bike/ Scrane.de - Kirsten Rösel (GER), Petronella Hattingh (RSA) - 4:24:24.00
1. Specsavers - Linus Van Onselen (RSA), Frans van Zyl (RSA) - 3:42:27.11
2. Getaway Mongoos - Doug Brown (RSA), Friedrich Coleske (RSA) - 3:42:24.88
3. Scarabee 2- Frankz Taelman (BEL), Dirk Rossignol (BEL) - 3:42:31.14
1. Team Microsoft - Nic White (RSA), Anke Erlank (RSA) - 3:50:09.53
2. Fast n Fresh - Leon Erasmus (RSA), Liza Serfontain (RSA) - 3:35:36.07
2. Marsilio Projects - Yolande de Villiers (RSA), Tony Conlon (RSA) - 3:58:40.84
Today the riders face another demanding but unforgettable stage: 1120.6 and 2425 m from Riversdale to Barrydale with some gruelling monster climbs technical jeep track amongst spectacular fynbos. Before the finish the teams will have to cross the stunning Tradouws pass.