The Flückiger brothers' team of Lukas (26) and Mathias (21) from Switzerland repeated last year's final stage victory by winning stage 6 of this year's Absa Cape Epic in 4:37.22,6.
They were followed by the Swiss/South African duo of Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander (Songo-Specialized by DCM) in a time of 4:40.00,8 with the German Bulls Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm close on their heels in 4:40.00,9. In fourth place were Kevin Evans and Alban Lakata (Team MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon) in a time of 4:43.36,1.
Max Knox and Brandon Stewart of DCM Chrome finished in sixteenth place today (5:05.14,4), successfully defending their African Leader jersey for the third day in a row. They have moved to the eleventh place overall (24:03.02,8).
Mathias Flückiger after crossing the line to win stage 6
Lukas Flückiger said that they rode with the other riders for most of the way: "Only when Songo-Specialized by DCM had a flat, we broke away - it was just before Groenlandberg. We took yesterday easy and planned it as a rest day. We knew today was going to be tough and this was obviously a good option as it worked for us."
Brother Mathias added: "At the beginning of the stage my legs were bad, but I felt better later in the stage. The Bulls really pushed today and it was hard work to hang on to the lead. Our legs felt good near the finish and we're very happy about the stage win. We also had no bad luck today. It's important for us to win a stage at the Absa Cape Epic."
Kristine and Anna-Sofie Noergaard going strongly
In the women's category, Kristine and Anna-Sofie Noergaard (team Rothaus-CUBE) won for the fourth day in a row, finishing in a time of 5:41,41,7. They remain in first position overall (28:37.35,5). They were again followed by Hannele Steyn-Kotze and Ivonne Kraft (Team Sludge Ladies) in a time of 5:55.42,6, who are placed second overall (29:00.45,8). In third place were Giuliana Vitali and Tamara Horn (team bike2help.ch – Big Tree) with their fifth podium finish in this year's race (6:29.21,8), placing them in third position overall (31:27.38,0).
"Today's stage was fun," said Anna-Sofie Noergaard. "It was nice for us as we started very slow and had time to get warmed up. We stayed with Ivonne and Hannele for a long time, but broke away later in the race. We talk to each other a lot during the race. We cheer each other up, discuss how we're feeling and really motivate each other.
"We'll just keep going the way we have been for the next two stages as it seems to work for us. We've been feeling stronger every day, and slept well last night."
Stage 6 took riders from Worcester to Oak Valley, a distance of 123km and 2 240m of climbing. After a neutral convoy out of Worcester, riders were soon hugging the shores of Brandvlei Dam. Then the ups and downs began; retracing some of the 2009 route in reverse. Climbs were short but some gradients reached up to 26%.
A dead-straight chute took the field down to the canals, through the orchards, then into some singletrack and finally over the wall of the vast Theewaterskloof Dam. The race then took a short-cut through a hidden valley to Porcupine Hills before reaching the foot of another monument of the Absa Cape Epic, the Groenlandberg Cape Nature conservation area.
Route designer "Dr Evil" found a new way for riders to conquer this beautiful beast. The first part followed a steep dirt road up to Water Point 3 and part two took riders into virgin Epic mountain biking territory and deep into nature, all the way to the Groenlandberg saddle. This offered views of the beautiful Elgin Valley, and the treat of the day was fast and smooth singletrack in Thandi and Oak Valley.
For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.