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|723 finishers in Cape Epic - Own Correspondent|
With a total riding time of 31 hours 20 minutes and 6.38 seconds, seven out of 8 stage victories, and a lead by 26.29 minutes, the Belgium-Dutch duo of Roel Paulissen (BEL), currently number 1 in the UCI World Rankings, and Bart Brentjens (NDL), Olympic Champion of 1996, won the second edition of the Cape Epic.
The weather could not have been better in honour of the finishers of the second annual Cape Epic. They completed the final 47 kilometre leg of their challenging mountain bike journey through the Western Cape under blue sunny skies.
433 pairs from 32 countries around the globe had started eight days ago in Knysna in the Gardenroute; 723 of the 866 riders cycled all the way to Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. In just 8 days they covered a distance of over 900 kilometres and climbed a total of 16 000 metres (i.e. almost twice the Mount Everest) on their mountain bikes and earned the honourable title of ’Cape Epic finisher’.
Sunday’s last leg of the challenging stage race led the aspiring amateur athletes and international mountain bike champions once more through the magnificent scenery of the Western Cape to the beautiful Spier Wine Estate near Cape Town.
On the final day of the “Magical and Untamed African MTB Race”, the riders were met with some spectacular single track riding, technical climbs, and breathtaking downhills including the original ’97 UCI World Cup DH track in Stellenbosch.
Hundreds of school children and spectators lined the finish chute, cheering excitedly when the two Giant team riders in yellow CAPE EPIC leader jerseys sprinted through the finish gate, followed by the second placed team Siemens Cannondale with the reigning World Cup Champion Christoph Sauser (SUI) and his team partner Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE).
"I am a little bit disappointed", said Fredrik Kessiakoff aftwerwards, "because we wanted to win the last stage. But Bart and Roel are two good sprinters; we simply cannot keep up with them. We dropped them a couple of times in the climbs and downhills, but they can always close the gap on the flats.
“Nevertheless, it was a fantastic ride today. I have really enjoyed The Cape Epic. It was a great adventure - not only the race, but also everything around it. I have never seen anything like this, except for the Olympics. The organisation was outstanding."
Pro riders impressed with amateurs
Having also had their ups and downs during the past eight days, suffering from bad luck, tired legs, and pain, the World Cup pros were very impressed with the achievements of the amateurs competing in this race.
"They really amaze me", Roel said. "I don’t know how you can prepare for such a tough race if you have a full time job. And they ride twice as long as we do, so they have a lot less time to recover."
Evans/ Wieltschnig defend third place overall
"We were hoping to make it into the top 10 and were already thrilled when we maintained fifth place overall," Kevin said with a big smile.
Team adidas Fiat Rotwild Scott started into the last leg of The CAPE Epic with a two minute advantage. "I don’t think I have ever seen Silvio so nervous before", said Kevin. "But I said to him last night that we just have to follow the Swiss guys."
It wasn’t that easy. Right after the start fast moving team Papival-Stoeckli-Move-Magazin caused a crash in which also Silvio was involved. "That was a shock. But Carsten Bresser, Karl Platt, Shan Wilson, and Brandon Stewart closed the gap for us. We really have to thank them. After that we just sat with the bunch, rode the downhill conservatively and tried not to risk a flat," said Silvio.
"This is the highlight of my cycling career. I can’t say thanks enough for the support from adidas and Scott. They made it all possible. But my biggest thanks goes to Silvio for hanging in there. He had to dig so deep, because he came straight out of winter and was not in the same shape as everybody else. I take my hat off to his achievement."
Karl Platt (GER) and Carsten Bresser (GER) of team Rocky Mountain, who were struck by bad luck throughout the race, managed to complete their Epic with a place on the final stage podium.
"I had very good legs today, as if somebody replaced them overnight", said Karl. "After the crash, we decided to help Kevin and Silvio to close the gap. Then on the last few kilometres we grabbed our chance to finish with a third place."
Final stage win for Booyens/Lombardi
The two, who dominated the female race for a week, were hit by a puncture on the last day, but still had a total lead of over 36 minutes when they crossed the finish line in Spier. "It was a long week," Zoë said. "Now I am happy that it is over. I really struggled on the first two days, but after stage 3 I felt that I was getting stronger every day. Now I am looking forward to seeing my husband and my twins."
Mixed Champion 2004 back on podium
"Last year I was constantly riding over my limits, because my partner was a lot stronger. This year I had time to enjoy the scenery; I could recover on the downhills and help my partner on the climbs. Of course, I was tired every night. But in comparison to last year’s race in the Mixed category, this year was like a walk in the park."
Sauna Diana wins last stage/ Mongoose Getaway overall
Team Mongoose Getaway with the overall leaders Doug Brown (RSA) and Friedrich Coleské (RSA) came in fourth on Sunday, but still won the Masters category dominantly with a lead by 14.5 minutes.
"We took it easy today", said Doug Brown. "We enjoyed the last stage, just looking after our tyres and not risking a crash on the last day. This race truly is an Epic in every sense of the word."
Erlank/White dominate Mixed category
"Today it was real mountain biking for me, I didn’t feel very comfortable," said Nic. "But Anke was strong enough to push me through."
And his team partner said: "Nic was amazing today. We had a very good start. My knee was hurting today and my saddle kept slipping down. But I loved the downhill, it had some nice jumps and drops."
Geddan Ruddock (RSA) and Jeannie Bomford (RSA) of team Manic Cycles/ Enduren got second while Leon Erasmus (RSA) and Liza Serfontein (RSA), team Fast ‘n Fresh, lost four minutes on the last day and finished third overall.
In the afternoon, tired but proud Epic finishers lazed under shadowy oaks in the beautiful Spier gardens, enjoyed their first glass of wine after eight gruelling days in the saddle and told their families and friends, who had all come out to the Winelands to celebrate their heroes, about their personal African MTB adventure.
After a week of carbo-loading, during which the only purpose of eating was to quickly and effectively refill the energy reservoir of a stressed body, the participants indulged in the large variety of delectable Cape African dishes prepared buffet style at Moyo at Spier restaurant.
Proudly wearing their adidas finisher T-shirts and medals, the athletes from around the world celebrated their completion of the race in style with a great gala banquet and finisher party.
Overall Results (all results are online under www.cape-epic.com)
1. Giant - Roel Paulissen (BEL), Bart Brentjes (NDL) - 31:20:06.38
1. Fiat/ Bianchi/ adidas 2 - Hannele Steyn-Kotze (RSA), Zoe Frost (RSA) - 41:05:06.67
1. Mongoose/ Getaway - Friedrich Coleské (RSA), Doug Brown - .93
3. Team Microsoft - Nic White (RSA), Anke Erlank (RSA) - 38:
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