After the wind hassled riders relentlessly during Stage 1 and continued late into the night, it subsided just ahead of Stage 2 and an incredible day of racing unfolded during the 116km of this year’s longest stage.
Routes in and around Hermanus are known as rough, rugged, and raw. The climbs are equally brutal. The route today did not disappoint, and riders had a bit of everything the Overberg has to offer.
The categories did not have as many changes as the previous days and racing is starting to settle…as much as the Cape Epic allows!
It was a tough day in the office for the leading Amateur Men. Australian Mitchell Docker and his American teammate Ian Boswell (Digger and the Doughboy) won another stage, but it wasn’t without incident with Docker struggling with stomach problems. Their time for 116km was 5 hours and 29 seconds.
Australian brothers Hayden and Oliver (James Brothers) came in second on the day +1.59 behind the leaders. Signal Racing’s Oliver “Pinner” Munnik and Rogan Smart from South Africa had a crash to deal with and finished third, just more than two minutes off the pace.
Docker and Boswell have an overall lead over Munnik and Smart of almost 8 minutes. Polish team of Janis Prizevoits and Lauris Purnins (Ezerkaulini) are in third place overall some 27 minutes behind the Docker and Boswell.
Refilwe Mogorosi and Omphile Mataung (Exxaro Academy Ladies) won another stage and with that took firm control of the Amateur Women category. They won the stage in 7:21.34. Second on the day was Buhle Beauty Nontobeko Ngobese and Ricci-Lee Brookstone (ABSA SheUntamed 2023) and the last place on the podium was taken by another South African pairing Charline Chaute and Andisiwe Skeyi (Charsiwe).
Mogorosi and Mataung now have a lead of 43.05 over Ngobese and Brookstone. South Africans Nicola Biani and Kerry-Lee Pienaar (SheUntamed Bellas) are third overall.
Absa Cape Epic legend Karl Platt (Ger) and his Spanish teammate Tomi Misser (Legends BULLS:MONDRAKER) won the second stage in a time of 4 hours, 51 minutes, and 17 seconds. After two days of struggles it finally came together for the defending NTT Masters champion Platt and his new teammate.
This win was Platt’s 8th stage win as Master-rider and 25th stage overall.
South Africans Craig Uria and Michael Posthumus (Restonic) finished second and took the overall lead. Third on the day was Swiss duo Christophe Terrier and Ismael Roth (Les Ajoulots).
Platt and Misser are second overall, but almost 30 minutes behind the South Africans. The Czech duo Pavel Gonda and Jan Fisnar (Czech Rockets Outfindo) are now in third place more than 41 minutes behind.
For the third day in a row former Absa Cape Epic champions Jennie Stenerhag and Esther Süss (cm.com ladies) dominated the Masters Women category. They got another stage win with a time of 6 hours, 5 minutes, and 20 seconds. This brings Stenerhags’ stage wins at the Absa Cape Epic to 8 and Süss 25. In second place were South Africans Tessa Keers and Nicola Walker (CM.com) almost 22 minutes behind. In third place were Carina Mohr and Nina Hartleb (Scott Sport Germany) +42.13 behind Stenerhag and Süss.
The stage results are exactly the same as the overall standings. Stenerhag and Süss’ overall lead is 47 minutes and 1 hour, 37 minutes respectively.
Defending champions Dutchman Bart Brentjens and Brazil’s Abraao Azevedo (KMC Mtb Racing) claimed their second stage win of 2023 in a time of 5:03.30. With this victory Azevedo is closing in on 40 stage wins at the Absa Cape Epic (in both Masters and Grand Masters’ categories). Italians Loris Tomat and Michele Gallina (FVG) were the best or the rest so to speak. They finished second in the stage (+18.39) and are now second overall with a slight lead overall the next team.
Another veteran of the Absa Cape Epic Barti Bucher and his Swiss teammate Oliver Imfeld (Bixs Stoll Meerendal) came in third place on the stage and are third overall as well. Bucher is a former Mixed, Masters and Grand Masters Champion.
Brentjens and Azevedo are in firm control with a lead of more than 32 minutes. This is a tried and tested combination and combining their stage wins together tallies up to over seventy stage wins.
Great Grand Masters
In the brand-new category – giving recognition to riders both 60 years and older – Frenchmen Rene Vallee and Alain Broglia (Forestiere Rosti 2) are still in control of the race with another stage win in a time of 6:201.8. South Africans Graham Monteith and Robin Olbrich (Emergency Diesel) came in second (+3.33) and Bart Meganck (Bel) and Cyrille Chossegross (Fr, 63CC/APHM) took the final place on the stage podium (+20.06).
Overall, the Frenchmen have a massive one-hour lead over Monteith and Olbrich. Currently in third place overall is Dutch pair Johan and Christiaan van Splunter (Silvis x Vos).
It is mainly two teams dominating the racing in the Toyota Mixed category. South Africans Riaan Weideman and Samantha Sanders (Toyota Gazoo Racing) won Stage 2 in 5:32.27. Spaniard Ibon Zugasti and his Belgium teammate Alice Pirard (Orbea Factory) came in some seven minutes later. These two teams are also in first and second place overall with less than 10 minutes separating them and there is still plenty of racing to come as the Absa Cape Epic heads from Hermanus to Oak Valley Estate during Stage 3.
Third on the stage was Bikehugh’s Jasper Lefevre (Bel) and Ariadna Rodenas Pascual (Sp). In third place overall is South African and Dutch combination of Christoff van Heerden and Robin Bolten (Acepak Robotics).
Absa African Jersey
Former multiple winner of the Absa African Jersey Philip Buys from South Africa and his Namibian teammate Alexander Milner (PYGA Euro Steel) remained in the Absa African jerseys after Stage 2 even though they were not the first all-African team across the line. Marco Joubert and Pieter du Toit (Imbuko TypeDev) claimed honour although they remain in third in the race for red behind Arno du Toit and Keagan Bontekoning (Insect Science Pro).
Even though Mauritian Kim Le Court and Vera Looser from Namibia won the second stage and will wear the Absa African jerseys again in Stage 3, these jerseys still belong to South Africans Candice Lill and Amy Wakefield (e-Fort.net|SeattleCoffee Co) who are the overall leaders in the CM.com women’s race and the prestigious orange leader jerseys take preference.
Zola Ngxakeni and Ntlantla Nonkasa (Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne 3) won their second stage in a time of 5:25.05 and kept control of the Exxaro Jersey. Second and third in the stage were William Sello Majapholo and Obvious Khorommbi (Exxaro/RMB) and
Tlotlo Mohweledi Selala en Halalisani Njabulo Ndebele (Exxaro/PEPTO) respectively.
In second place overall are Kusaselihle Ngidi and Ongeziwe Tyapa (Fairtree Imperial 2). William Sello Majapholo and Obvious Khorommbi (Exxaro/RMB) are third.
The wearers of the Exxaro Women’s Jerseys are Refilwe Mogorosi and Omphile Mataung (Exxaro Academy Ladies), although they will be racing in the Amateur jerseys.
Hermanus to Oak Valley, 100km (2300m climbing)
The first transition stage, from Hermanus to Oak Valley Estate, traverses wild country nestled within pockets of manicured agriculture. 100 brutal kilometres of raw, natural trails separate the race villages. Sections of purpose-built singletracks and brief flirtations with district roads provide moments of respite on smoother surfaces. 2 300 metres of climbing makes for an arduous day on the bike. The challenges begin from the gun, with a climb out of Hermanus and into the wild; then trails deep in the fynbos lead into Wildekrans where tight and twisty trails make gaining momentum difficult. Onwards and upwards from Botriver up Kat Pas through Houw Hoek Inn before tackling the back of Tierkop. From here the fast sweeping singletrack of Jakkals awaits before Paul Cluver provides the final climbs before a high-speed, high-risk, high-reward run into Oak Valley Estate ensures the stage ends on a high, ahead of the time trial on Stage 4.