It was a bleak day on Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic for two top teams.
Swede Jennie Stenerhag, second overall in the winner’s category with South African Robyn de Groot (Team Ascendis Health), collapsed over the finish line after a tough and very hot 104km ride. She was immediately taken to the race hospital by stretcher to be checked out.
Stenerhag later pulled out of the race and De Groot indicated that she would probably continue on her own as an Outcast – a UCI rider whose partner has left the race. Team Ascendis Health announced on twitter that Stenerhag “cannot continue due to illness”.
And men’s challenger Kristian Hynek took a nasty tumble towards the end of the stage and crossed the line with a bloodied arm and battered ribs. He too was taken off to hospital for x-rays.
The overnight leaders in both categories meanwhile consolidated their positions.
Coming into the 2016 Absa Cape Epic, Karl Platt and Urs Huber (Team Bulls) had already enjoyed a string of excellent results on South African soil.
So it should come as no surprise that Platt and Huber are dominating the Absa Cape Epic this year. With a third stage win on the ride from Tulbagh to Wellington Platt and Huber have moved nine minutes ahead of their nearest rivals, another German-Swiss team in the shape of Centurion Vaude by Meerendal 2’s Matthias Pfrommer and Nicola Rohrbach. The 2016 Stage 3 win is also Platt’s 17th stage victory in 12 Absa Cape Epics.
Both have also spent time training and riding the trails in Wellington, which gave them a clear advantage in the last kilometres of today’s stage.
“In the last 30km we went very hard,” said Platt. “We know the trails well here, so we knew we could push and make a move the closer we got to the finish.”
Platt said the strategy for the stage was to keep it cool and also keep an eye on their nearest rivals until it was time to strike. “We put the pressure on after Bain’s Kloof Pass,” said Platt. “Simon Stiebjahn went into the trails ahead of us like a cannonball and we just followed him. There were two or three teams going into the trees at full pace, but we knew we could follow Simon and trust in his and our knowledge of the trails. It was another good day for us, and we are very happy to be home in first again.”
Two minutes back on the day were Stage 2 winners, Team Centurion Vaude by Meerendal 2. Pfrommer and Rohrbach are enjoying a solid Absa Cape Epic debut, but admitted that after two days of furious racing the pace at the front is starting to take its toll.
“We’re very happy with the second place, but the pace was fast today,” said Pfrommer. “I don’t want to say it is too fast for us, but Karl and Urs were really going. It’s a good day, but it was hard work out there.”
For the third place overall team, Topeak Ergon Racing, there was more bad luck after a broken shoe derailed their Stage 2 efforts.
In the last five kilometres of Stage 3, previous winner Hynek took a nasty tumble that required medical attention to a bloodied arm on the finish line. Topeak Ergon Racing finished third on the day, but Hynek and Alban Lakata are now 11 minutes behind Team Bulls in the hunt for first place.
At the time of writing, Hynek had been sent to hospital for X-rays, after which the team were to make a decision on his ability to continue in the race.
In the Absa African Special Jersey competition, Team USN Purefit’s Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock strengthened their grip on the red rider jersey. Finishing seventh on Stage 3, they now have a 15-minute lead on their nearest African challengers, Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell of NAD Pro MTB.
“We felt good again today,” said Waylon Woolcock, “We spent some time riding with the front bunch until Darren punctured on the first climb. After a quick repair we stayed calm and just rode at our own pace to the finish. Things are going well so far.”
In the women’s race Ariane Kleinhans and Annika Langvad of Spur-Specialized moved a step closer to clinching their third straight Absa Cape Epic title by winning Stage 3 in a time of 5:18.47.
While the Swiss-Danish pair arrived at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Wellington campus 32,1 seconds ahead of the Topeak Ergon and added another 1.11,3 to their overall lead on Ascendis Health, they didn’t have it all their own way on Wednesday.
“I didn’t see that coming,” Langvad told Kleinhans as they celebrated their victory.
The three contenders in the Sasol Women’s category, as well as Sport for Good, remained within a minute of each other at all three water points on the 104km transition stage from Tulbagh. While it didn’t end in a sprint finish, they all described the racing as fierce and exactly what the women’s category has been calling out for.
“It was a very close race and we had no idea how it was going to finish. The racing was super close and very tough because we were all together until the last 20 kilometres or so,” said Langvad.
“We didn’t win because we were stronger today, but only because we chose best when to use our advantage. After the last descent we went through vineyards and the corners were very slippery… that’s where we made our advantage count.”
Among the triumphant scenes of Kleinhans and Langvad, were the tears of Adel Morath (Topeak Ergon) and clear signs of the day’s toil when Stenerhag required medical attention.
“Today was the best women’s stage that I’ve been involved in during my Cape Epic history,” said Morath’s partner Sally Bigham, riding in her sixth straight Absa Cape Epic. “We had a great time and really enjoyed the close racing. The separate starts worked well today and it will be very good for the sport if we have more racing like today – there was lots of attacking and counter-attacking.”
Morath echoed Bigham’s sentiments. “It was an amazing stage… we watched each other, we attacked each other, it was very tactical. It was super hard so in the end everyone was suffering and looking forward to seeing the finish line.”
“Look, there were sections that were very hot,” revealed De Groot before adding that they had too enjoyed the stage. The racing was actually very exciting. It was a proper race today…”
Meanwhile, Bart Brentjens of the Netherlands and Brazilian Abraao Azevedo (CST Superior Brentjens) have taken control of the Masters Category – in which both riders are over 40 – after winning their second stage in a row. The defending category champions won Stage 3 by 14 minutes from Australians Damien Jones and Brad Clarke (Hampton Cycles) but more importantly finished 15 minutes ahead of overnight leaders Adrian Enthoven and Nic White (White Inc). The South African pair are now second in the category, nearly 12 minutes back overall.
In the Grand Masters Category – both riders over 50 – the South African/German combination of Robert Sim and former Tour de France rider Udo Boelts have have taken a firm grip with another stage win. They now have a 25-minute lead over Austrian Heinz Zoerweg and Swiss Barti Bucher (Meerendal BIXS KTM), who finished second today, and 30 minutes over South Africans Andrew Mclean and Doug Brown.
The Mixed category is being dominated by French team Jean-Francois Bossler and Fanny Bourdon (Open-Kappius Components), who are now 40 minutes ahead of second-placed Hans Fluck and Anita Bucher (Giant Obwalden).
Phillimon Sebona and Lucky Mlangeni (Exxaro/PwC) have an almost unassailable lead in the race for the Exxaro special jersey and are now one hour and 13 minutes ahead of second-placed Rilamulele Gadabeni and Tovhowani Mavundadavhi (Exxaro/Tronox).
2016 Stage 3 Men
1. Bulls 3-1 Karl Platt (Germany) 3-2 Urs Huber (Switzerland) 4:25.54,9
2. Centurion Vaude by Meerendal 2 17-1 Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland) 17-2 Matthias Pfrommer (Germany) 4:28.03,0 +2.08,1
3. Topeak Ergon Racing 2-1 Alban Lakata (Austria) 2-2 Kristian Hynek (Czech Republic) 4:28.48,1 +2.53,2
1. Bulls 3-1 Karl Platt (Germany) 3-2 Urs Huber (Switzerland) 14:22.36,1
2. Centurion Vaude by Meerendal 2 17-1 Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland) 17-2 Matthias Pfrommer (Germany) 14:31.43,1 +9.07,0
3. Topeak Ergon Racing 2-1 Alban Lakata (Austria) 2-2 Kristian Hynek (Czech Republic) 14:33.52,1 +11.16,0
4. Trek-Selle San Marco A 13-1 Samuele Porro (Italy) 13-2 Damiano Ferraro (Italy) 14:39.55,9 +17.19,8
5. Cannondale Factory Racing 14-1 Manuel Fumic (Germany) 14-2 Henrique Avancini (Brazil) 14:46.55,7 +24.19,6
6. USN Purefit 7-1 Darren Lill (South Africa) 7-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 14:50.34,3 +27.58,2
7. Dolomiti Superbike 11-1 Periklis Ilias (Greece) 11-2 Tiago Jorge Ferreira Oliveira (Portugal) 14:52.07,0 +29.30,9
8. Bulls 2 10-1 Simon Stiebjahn (Germany) 10-2 Tim Boehme (Germany) 14:57.47,4 +35.11,3
9. Trek-Selle San Marco B 18-1 Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez (Spain) 18-2 Fabian Rabensteiner (Italy) 14:59.55,1 +37.19,0
10. NAD Pro MTB 8-1 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 8-2 Nico Bell (South Africa) 15:05.13,9 +42.37,8
2016 Stage 3 Women
1. Spur-Specialized 50-1 Annika Langvad (Denmark) 50-2 Ariane Kleinhans (Switzerland) 5:18.47,0
2. Topeak Ergon 53-1 Sally Bigham (England) 53-2 Adel Morath (Germany) 5:19.19,1 +32,1
3. Ascendis Health 51-1 Robyn de Groot (South Africa) 51-2 Jennie Stenerhag (Sweden) 5:19.58,3 +1.11,3
1. Spur-Specialized 50-1 Annika Langvad (Denmark) 50-2 Ariane Kleinhans (Switzerland) 17:05.39,4
2. Ascendis Health 51-1 Robyn de Groot (South Africa) 51-2 Jennie Stenerhag (Sweden) 17:10.07,8 +4.28,4
3. Topeak Ergon 53-1 Sally Bigham (England) 53-2 Adel Morath (Germany) 17:13.06,9 +7.27,5
4. Sport for Good 54-2 Yana Belomoina (Ukraine) 54-1 Sabine Spitz (Germany) 17:26.11,6 +20.32,2
5. Meerendal Wheeler 52-1 Esther Suss (Switzerland) 52-2 Catherine Williamson (England) 18:00.04,8 +54.25,4
6. Meerendal Rocky EBE 56-1 Hielke Elferink (Netherlands) 56-2 Elisabeth Brandau (Germany) 18:56.02,5 +1:50.23,1
7. Galileo Risk 55-1 Theresa Ralph (South Africa) 55-2 Yolandi du Toit (South Africa) 18:56.27,8 +1:50.48,4
8. Asrin Cycling 71-1 Janka Keseg Stevkova (Slovakia) 71-2 Sandra Santanyes Murillo (Spain) 19:13.25,9 +2:07.46,5
9. Energade Racing 202-1 Dalene van der Leek (South Africa) 202-2 Sharon Laws (England) 19:14.23,3 +2:08.43,9
10. Liv - MTB Pro 59-1 Muriel Bouhet (France) 59-2 Merce Pacios Pujado (Spain) 21:30.34,6 +4:24.55,2
2016 Stage 3 Masters
1. CST Superior Brentjens 60-1 Bart Brentjens (Netherlands) 60-2 Abraao Azevedo (Brazil) 4:51.50,4
2. Hampton Cycles Australia 302-1 Damien Jones (Australia) 302-2 Brad Clarke (Australia) 5:06.30,1 +14.39,7
3. White Inc 61-1 Adrian Enthoven (South Africa) 61-2 Nic White (South Africa) 5:07.02,7 +15.12,3
1. CST Superior Brentjens 60-1 Bart Brentjens (Netherlands) 60-2 Abraao Azevedo (Brazil) 16:04.03,5
2. White Inc 61-1 Adrian Enthoven (South Africa) 61-2 Nic White (South Africa) 16:15.55,8 +11.52,3
3. Hampton Cycles Australia 302-1 Damien Jones (Australia) 302-2 Brad Clarke (Australia) 16:33.33,8 +29.30,3
4. Van de Haterd Mtb 173-1 John van de Wouw (Netherlands) 173-2 Maikel Govaarts (Netherlands) 16:39.39,4 +35.35,9
5. Sasol Mitas 250-1 Johan Labuschagne (South Africa) 250-2 Gerrie Beukes (South Africa) 17:02.22,4 +58.18,9
6. Absa Shake & Bake 432-1 Tobie van Heerden (South Africa) 432-2 Carel Vosloo (South Africa) 17:31.19,3 +1:27.15,8
7. Klein-Aus Vista MTB 559-1 Piet Swiegers (Namibia) 559-2 Atle Hansen (Sweden) 18:01.07,8 +1:57.04,3
8. Barclays/Oakhaven 402-1 Michael Creedon (Ireland) 402-2 Andrew Cairns (South Africa) 18:08.38,0 +2:04.34,5
9. S&P 475-1 Warren Squires (Zimbabwe) 475-2 Graham Parker (South Africa) 18:18.19,3 +2:14.15,8
10. GUAK Tinas de Pechon 544-1 Tomi Misser (Spain) 544-2 Pablo Gomez Victorero (Spain) 18:20.58,5 +2:16.55,0
2016 Stage 3 Grand Masters
1. Robert Daniel 67-1 Robert Sim (South Africa) 67-2 Udo Boelts (Germany) 5:00.18,7
2. Meerendal BIXS KTM 65-1 Barti Bucher (Switzerland) 65-2 Heinz Zoerweg (Austria) 5:02.41,7 +2.23,0
3. Cycle Lab 66-1 Andrew Mclean (South Africa) 66-2 Doug Brown (South Africa) 5:10.36,2 +10.17,5
1. Robert Daniel 67-1 Robert Sim (South Africa) 67-2 Udo Boelts (Germany) 16:11.03,7
2. Meerendal BIXS KTM 65-1 Barti Bucher (Switzerland) 65-2 Heinz Zoerweg (Austria) 16:36.13,1 +25.09,4
3. Cycle Lab 66-1 Andrew Mclean (South Africa) 66-2 Doug Brown (South Africa) 16:42.02,1 +30.58,4
4. UTi Masters 92-1 Greg Anderson (South Africa) 92-2 Deon Kruger (South Africa) 17:51.49,9 +1:40.46,2
5. Santos Rohloff 344-1 Marcus Richter (Germany) 344-2 Ralf Kropp (Germany) 19:19.40,6 +3:08.36,9
6. Old Bullets 429-1 Abbey de Groot (South Africa) 429-2 Ettienne Soekoe (South Africa) 19:41.47,2 +3:30.43,5
7. Mont & Puc 125-1 Graham Monteith (South Africa) 125-2 Rory Attridge (South Africa) 19:42.42,7 +3:31.39,0
8. Azura Retreats 185-1 Martijn Mellaart (Netherlands) 185-2 Guy Jennings (South Africa) 19:58.32,4 +3:47.28,7
9. Why worry be happy 128-1 Herman Heunis (South Africa) 128-2 Julian Conrad (South Africa) 20:21.29,1 +4:10.25,4
10. Gutta Boyz 145-1 Ivar Tollefsen (Norway) 145-2 Trond Hilde (Norway) 20:21.46,7 +4:10.43,0
2016 Stage 3 Mixed
1. Open - Kappius Components 72-1 Jean-Francois Bossler (France) 72-2 Fanny Bourdon (France) 5:36.30,6
2. Trek Israel CCC 73-1 Idit Shub (Israel) 73-2 Gal Tsachor (Israel) 5:47.28,9 +10.58,3
3. Giant Obwalden 209-1 Hans Fluck (Switzerland) 209-2 Anita Bucher (Switzerland) 5:56.13,6 +19.43,0
1. Open - Kappius Components 72-1 Jean-Francois Bossler (France) 72-2 Fanny Bourdon (France) 18:28.15,2
2. Giant Obwalden 209-1 Hans Fluck (Switzerland) 209-2 Anita Bucher (Switzerland) 19:08.58,7 +40.43,5
3. Trek Israel CCC 73-1 Idit Shub (Israel) 73-2 Gal Tsachor (Israel) 19:10.19,6 +42.04,4
4. Topbike Racing 258-1 Katja Cauwenbergh (Belgium) 258-2 Ken Van den Bulke (Belgium) 19:31.45,7 +1:03.30,5
5. Meerendal Rocky Mountain 2 224-1 Heinz Posch (Switzerland) 224-2 Viviane Spielmann (Switzerland) 19:44.38,7 +1:16.23,5
6. USN Spike and Sparky 113-1 Sanet Coetzee (South Africa) 113-2 Dana Coetzee (South Africa) 19:51.17,2 +1:23.02,0
7. Scott Mix 608-1 Nadia Visser (South Africa) 608-2 Rikus Visser (South Africa) 19:53.03,4 +1:24.48,2
8. Meerendal Rocky Mountain 124-1 Sabina Compassi (Switzerland) 124-2 Paul Buhler (Switzerland) 20:23.15,6 +1:55.00,4
9. Bicycle Service Company 187-1 Monica Glover (South Africa) 187-2 Danny-lee Fowler (South Africa) 20:27.31,1 +1:59.15,9
10. BPFteam.com 74-1 Alexis Barnes (Australia) 74-2 Gareth Barnes (Australia) 20:29.10,9 +2:00.55,7
2016 Stage 3 Absa African
1. USN Purefit 7-1 Darren Lill (South Africa) 7-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 4:33.03,6
2. NAD Pro MTB 8-1 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 8-2 Nico Bell (South Africa) 4:42.45,4 +9.41,8
3. Imbuko-Freewheel Cycology 25-1 Christopher Wolhuter (South Africa) 25-2 Craig Boyes (South Africa) 4:55.40,5 +22.36,9
1. USN Purefit 7-1 Darren Lill (South Africa) 7-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 14:50.34,3
2. NAD Pro MTB 8-1 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 8-2 Nico Bell (South Africa) 15:05.13,9 +14.39,6
3. William Simpson A 33-1 Michael Posthumus (South Africa) 33-2 Derrin Smith (South Africa) 16:13.20,7 +1:22.46,4
4. Rwanda 21-1 Nathan Byukusenge (Rwanda) 21-2 Thinus Redelinghuys (South Africa) 16:14.32,0 +1:23.57,7
5. White Inc 61-1 Adrian Enthoven (South Africa) 61-2 Nic White (South Africa) 16:15.55,8 +1:25.21,5
6. Imbuko-Freewheel Cycology 25-1 Christopher Wolhuter (South Africa) 25-2 Craig Boyes (South Africa) 16:17.08,8 +1:26.34,5
7. Britehouse Biogen 24-1 Carl Pasio (South Africa) 24-2 Charles Keey (South Africa) 16:20.59,2 +1:30.24,9
8. NFB - Spine & Sport 32-1 Craig Uria (South Africa) 32-2 Andrew Duvenage (South Africa) 16:27.50,4 +1:37.16,1
9. GoPro 30-1 Oliver Munnik (South Africa) 30-2 Matthew Beers (South Africa) 16:29.02,4 +1:38.28,1
10. Cycle Lab 66-1 Andrew Mclean (South Africa) 66-2 Doug Brown (South Africa) 16:42.02,1 +1:51.27,8
2016 Stage 3 Exxaro
1. Exxaro/PwC 80-1 Phillimon Sebona (South Africa) 80-2 Lucky Mlangeni (South Africa) 5:17.36,6
2. Exxaro/Tronox 82-1 Rilamulele Gadabeni (South Africa) 82-2 Tovhowani Mavundadavhi (South Africa) 5:31.02,6 +13.26,0
3. Exxaro/RMB 81-1 Jan Montshioa (South Africa) 81-2 Thokozani Mahlangu (South Africa) 5:41.41,6 +24.05,0
1. Exxaro/PwC 80-1 Phillimon Sebona (South Africa) 80-2 Lucky Mlangeni (South Africa) 17:09.18,0
2. Exxaro/Tronox 82-1 Rilamulele Gadabeni (South Africa) 82-2 Tovhowani Mavundadavhi (South Africa) 18:22.44,4 +1:13.26,4
3. Exxaro/EOH 592-1 Tshepo Tlou (South Africa) 592-2 Anele Mtalana (South Africa) 19:06.25,1 +1:57.07,1
4. DMA - Kargo 423-1 Clement Mabula (South Africa) 423-2 William Mokgopo (South Africa) 19:32.54,4 +2:23.36,4
5. Exxaro/Datacentrix 283-1 Sabelo Mncwabe (South Africa) 283-2 Masala Khumbudzo (South Africa) 20:00.53,3 +2:51.35,3
6. Exxaro/RMB 81-1 Jan Montshioa (South Africa) 81-2 Thokozani Mahlangu (South Africa) 20:01.38,7 +2:52.20,7
7. CPUT / PPS 499-1 Seraj Abrahams (South Africa) 499-2 Mthetheleli Boya (South Africa) 22:32.22,3 +5:23.04,3