Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser and his South African teammate Burry Stander (Songo-Specialized by DCM) again proved their world class stature by winning stage 4 of this year’s Cape Epic.
This is their second consecutive win, having also taken top honours in stage 3, and it placed them in third position overall (17:12.41). They were followed by the German Bulls 1 Team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, who are still leading overall by 6min 18 sec.
The South African/Austrian duo of Kevin Evans and Alban Lakata (Team MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon) made an impressive comeback after yesterday's technical problems to finish third, and are now in second place overall.
"We were all still together at water point three today as all the teams are battling for the leaders' jerseys. But Christoph kept attacking, attacking, attacking and I think the other teams could just not hang on any longer," said Stander. "When we hit the last saddleback, it was quite easy to break away."
"I felt very good today. I looked at the stage profile yesterday and knew it was going to be a cross-country stage which is really our strength," said Sauser. "It would be great if we could ride like this every day. Tomorrow's trail riding will also work in our favour because cross country riders can ride hard from the start. Hopefully we'll be feeling good and not too tired."
The first women to complete stage 4 were Kristine and Anna-Sofie Noergaard (Team Rothaus-Cube) in a time of 4:30.04, winning in their category for the second day in a row. They have moved to first position overall (21:26.57).
They were again followed by the winners of the first two stages, Hannele Steyn-Kotze and Ivonne Kraft (team Sludge Ladies) in a time of 4:41.57, who are now placed second overall (21:35.39). Giuliana Vitali and Tamara Horn (team bike2help.ch - Big Tree) finished in third place in a time of 5:03.46, placing them in third position overall (23:24.59).
"Today was really nice. We were riding at our own pace again and caught up with the leading women," said Anna-Sofie. "We just kept going and weren't all that interested in winning – we also like to have fun," said her team-mate Kristine. "I really liked today's stage. The last part was on tar which was so nice and very unlike the Cape Epic. I also enjoyed the dirt tracks as well as the downhill."
Today's stage took riders from Ceres to Worcester, a distance of 86km and 1,640m of climbing. After the combination punches of the first three stages, riders were counting the pedal strokes to the short time trial of tomorrow's stage 5, when they will ride for only 27km and climb a total of 860m.
Teams will set off at 30-second intervals, in reverse order, according to their overall ranking. The route forms a figure-of-eight through the foothills of Brandwacht, taking the race along the western side of Worcester through semi-desert vegetation.