The 107.4km fifth stage of the Cape Epic will go into history as the stage of the South African teams. So far the most technical and roughest terrain with sharp stones and thorns turned out to be a nightmare for the international riders, who had to stop over and over again to fix their punctures.
Since most South Africans are riding tubeless, they werent hit as hard as the sealing liquids did their job. Furthermore, knowing the tricky terrain, they rode cautiously on the downhills, which in the end turned out to be an advantage. Day five saw the first South African on the Mens podium.
Team adidas/Fiat Rotwild/Scott with Kevin Evans (RSA) and Silvio Wieltschnig (AUT) were the second team to cross the finish line today, six minutes behind the untouchable duo of Brentjens and Paulissen (Giant) in the yellow leader jerseys, who have built up a lead of 26 minutes over the past five days.
The second place for a South African was celebrated by spectators like a stage victory. "For me it is a dream come true", said Kevin Evans with a big smile on his face.
"To think that I have the chance to stand next to Bart Brentjens on the podium tonight made me go harder on the last 10 kilometres. This is a once in a lifetime experience. And there might not be another South African going onto the Mens podium in this race, so that makes this result even more special.
Today we had good luck and others had very bad luck. But Ive previously had so much bad luck at important races. And today was payback time."
For five days, Kevin Evans and Silvio Wieltschnig have presented a consistent performance that has positioned them in the league of the top five teams at this race with a comfortable gap of over 30 minutes to the sixth place.
"Before the race I was a little bit nervous, because I didnt know how well Silvio can speak English. But as soon as I picked him up from the airport, I knew we would get on very well. And we do. I couldnt have teamed up with anyone better for this race," said Evans.
"Kevin is a great partner, very strong", agreed Silvio. "Today the route contained some very technical sections and steep climbs in which you also had to push your bike and that suited me. I like the course a lot better than last year. We took it easy on the downhills. We were usually riding with 8 to 10 teams together and with all the dust you dont see where you are going and what the terrain is like. So we rode cautiously. And that paid off."
Kenyans help unlucky Germans
Today was a disappointing day for last years winner Karl Platt (GER) and his Rocky Mountain team partner Carsten Bresser (GER). Five flats cost them lots of time and their number 3 position in the overall ranking.
It could have been worse, if there hadnt been two Kenyan riders in the front field, David Kinjah and Davidson Kamau of team Imperial Logistics3, who were willing to help.
"We were riding with the top guys, trying to work with them, when we hit bad road", David explained. "Carsten and Karl had several flat tyres. We noticed them all the time. They were having a real bad day, but they were able to fix their flats very quickly until they ran out of good tubes. So we gave them ours. Then they had no more air cartridges, so we gave them one of our pumps and asked them to give us their old tubes, in case we would have a flat tyre, since we had a repair kit with us.
And shortly after that we actually had a puncture, but we were fine fixing it. These guys dont hurt us as we are not riding in the same league. So why not help them to reach their goal? You have to understand the tactics of the race and you need to make friends."
David and Davidson are very modest. Although they have found a supportive sponsor in Imperial Logistics they dont want to be treated special. They prefer to sleep in tents in the Race Village instead of B&Bs.
"Last year it was fine for us to stay in a tent, so why should it be different this year? Even lots of veterans sleep in the tent. The services here are fabulous, we have a great time, and we can save our sponsor some money. Our advice to everybody is go to the Epic and be a part of it. If you take it as it is it will be a once in a lifetime experience that you wont forget whether you finish first or last."
Riding for your ego
Dennis McCann (RSA) is 75 years old and the oldest participant in the Epic. The former pilot already participated in the inaugural Epic, but couldnt finish it after he had slipped in the shower the evening before the last stage and severely injured his shoulder.
His orthopaedic surgeon back then, Richard Du Toit (RSA), is now his riding partner. "Richard is phenomenal. He only started mountain biking three months ago and he is riding so well."
Yesterday, Dennis crashed in the technical section of stage 4 and broke his rib. "I was stressed, trying to make the cut-off. Therefore, in the downhill I took more than I am capable of. But hey, today I saw the finish of a great race.
I have nothing to prove. I am riding for my ego. To me it is a privilege to be accepted by this elite bunch of brothers and sisters. The friendship in this race brings tears to my eyes. I was visited by 27/28 year old guys in the hospital. I am an old man. Where else do I find somebody who cares so much about me? Thats important for my self-esteem."
Results (all results are online under www.cape-epic.com)
1. Giant - Roel Paulissen (BEL), Bart Brentjes (NDL) - 3:58:45:72
2. adidas/Fiat Rotwild/Scott - Kevin Evans (RSA), Silvio Wieltschnig (BEL) - 4:04:58:77
3. Papival-Stoeckli-Move Magazin, Sandro Spaeth (SUI), Thomas Zahnd (SUI) - 4:07:21:87
1. Fiat/ Bianchi/ adidas 2 - Hannele Steyn-Kotze (RSA), Zoe Frost (RSA) - 5:07:17:16
2. Scott Ladies - Hanlie Booyens (RSA), Michelle Lombardi (RSA) - 5:17:04:95
3. Hai-Bike/ Scrane.de - Kirsten Rösel (GER), Petronella Hattingh (RSA) - 5:54:16.55
1. Getaway Mongoos - Doug Brown (RSA), Friedrich Coleske (RSA) - 4:28:07:21
2. Specsavers - Linus Van Onselen (RSA), Frans van Zyl (RSA) - 4:31:36:95
3. Sauna Diana - Jan Siemons (NDL), Jos V. Aert (NDL) - 4:40:32:31
1. Team Microsoft - Nic White (RSA), Anke Erlank (RSA) - 4:57:52:14
2. Manic Cycles - Geddan Ruddock (RSA), Jeannie Bomford (RSA) - 5:01:56:29
3. Fast n Fresh - Leon Erasmus (RSA), Liza Serfontain (RSA) - 5:03:13:05
Giant - Roel Paulissen (BEL), Bart Brentjes (NDL) - 21:07:38:82
Fiat/Bianchi/Adidas 2 - Hannele Steyn-Kotze (RSA), Zoe Frost (RSA) - 27:55:45:54
Getaway/Mongoos - Friedrich Coleske (RSA), Doug Brown (RSA) - 24:54:41:96
Team Microsoft - Nic White (RSA), Anke Erlank (RSA) - 26:40:00:49
Todays stage from Montagu to Villiersdorp had to be partly changed due to severe flooding. Nevertheless, the Epic riders will face another hard and technical stage with giant climbs and three different 4x4 trails on a 127.3 km long route (approx. 2030 m ascent).