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Stage 1: The Category Wrap

By Absa Cape Epic, 03/20/23, 6:45AM HST


How the age group racing categories performed during a windy Stage 1

The challenging conditions of Stage 1

Although it didn't rain, Stage 1 of the Absa Cape Epic proved to be a gruelling test for competitors due to the strong gusts of up to 90km/h and the rugged terrain, which set the stage for an enthralling second day of the eight-day stage race. This year, Hermanus hosted a stage for the fifth time since the inception of the Absa Cape Epic, and the routes around Hermanus are notorious for their rough, rugged, and raw terrain with brutal climbs.

In most of the categories, positions changed and new teams will wear the leader jerseys for Stage 2.

Amateur category

Australian Mitchell Docker and his American teammate Ian Boswell (Digger and the Doughboy) impressed by maintaining their lead as the white jersey winners in the Amateur category, completing the 98km route in 4 hours, 35 minutes, and 24 seconds. Despite being new to mountain biking and the Absa Cape Epic, Docker and Boswell have experience as former UCI road racers. 

“I made sure to take a moment today to appreciate the amazing views along the way. Even though the race is taxing, it is important for us to not only race but to enjoy the complete experience that is the Absa Cape Epic,” said Docker.

Signal Racing’s Oliver Munnik and Rogan Smart from South Africa were second just more than 4 minutes off the pace. While both Boswell and Docker are riding in what is their first-ever Absa Cape Epic, Munnik is somewhat of a local legend riding in his 13th.

Refilwe Mogorosi and Omphile Mataung (Exxaro Academy Ladies) demonstrated a remarkable performance, finishing first in this category with a time of 7:15.25, after starting the day in second place. They kept their lead for the Exxaro jerseys and also secured the white jerseys for the brand-new Amateur category. Buhle Beauty Nontobeko Ngobese and Ricci-Lee Brookstone (ABSA SheUntamed 2023) took second place.

NTT Masters

Former NTT Masters champion Craig Uria and his new teammate Michael Posthumus (Restonic) won stage 1 in a time of 4:32.48. Overnight leaders Pavel Gonda and Jan Fisnar (Czech Rockets Outfindo) finished in second place, 55 seconds later, retaining their position as overall leaders. However, their lead has been reduced to just 36 seconds, setting the stage for an exciting competition in the days to come.

Grand Masters

Dutchman Bart Brentjens and Brazil's Abraao Azevedo (KMC Mtb Racing), the defending champions, took the lead in the Grand Masters category, achieving a stage win in 4:55.32. This win marked Brentjens' 60th stage win in the Absa Cape Epic and his 22nd as a Grand Master. Barti Bucher, a former Mixed, Masters, and Grand Masters champion, and his Swiss teammate Oliver Imfeld (Bixs Stoll Meerendal) came in second place. Brentjens and Azevedo have a substantial lead of more than 14 minutes, and they are a tested combination with three Masters and thus far one Grand Masters overall victories.

Great Grand Masters

In the newly introduced category, recognizing riders 60 years and older, French duo Rene Vallee and Alain Broglia from Forestiere Rosti 2 are dominating the race, with a stage win in a time of 5:50.02. They hold a commanding lead of 48 minutes over South Africans Graham Monteith and Robin Olbrich from Emergency Diesel.

Toyota Mixed Category

The Toyota Mixed category saw an exciting day of racing, with South Africans Riaan Weideman and Samantha Sanders from Toyota Gazoo Racing taking the stage win in a time of 5:17.45. They were closely followed by the charismatic Spaniard Ibon Zugasti and his Belgian teammate Alice Pirard, who finished less than a minute behind. The Luxembourg pair Marc Fautsch and Fabienne Schaus from Toproad Roeserbann, who led after the Prologue, finished third.

Weideman and Sanders are now the leaders, but they only have a two-minute gap to Zugasti and Pirard. In Absa Cape Epic terms, this is far from a secure lead. It's worth noting that Zugasti, a former road cyclist and now a YouTube sensation in Spain, has a significant following in his home country and receives continued support, second only to the likes of the BICILAB teams.

Special Jerseys

Absa African Jersey

Philip Buys, a former multiple winner of the Absa African Jersey from South Africa, and his Namibian teammate Alexander Milner (PYGA Euro Steel) are the current wearers of the Absa African jerseys. They are also in sixth place in the overall standings, with a seven-minute lead over the South African duo of Arno du Toit and Keagan Bontekoning from Insect Science Pro.

Buys and Milner are combining forces for the first time and are looking strong for a stage victory in the latter part of the Absa Cape Epic. However, in Stage 2, the Absa African jerseys will be worn by Mauritian Kim Le Court and Vera Looser from Namibia. But for now, the coveted jerseys belong to South Africans Candice Lill and Amy Wakefield from | SeattleCoffee Co., who emphatically won stage 1 after Wakefield suffered an early injury. They are also the overall leaders in the women’s race.

Exxaro Jersey

Zola Ngxakeni and Ntlantla Nonkasa from Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne 3 took the stage win and the overall lead of the Exxaro jersey. This duo now has a lead of more than 10 minutes.

The Exxaro Women’s Jerseys are currently worn by Refilwe Mogorosi and Omphile Mataung from Exxaro Academy Ladies.