The 36ONE Songo Specialized team of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser secured overall victory at this year’s Absa Cape Epic. With a ten minute and 51 second lead time at the start this morning, Stander and Sauser finished the eighth day racing and 707km in an overall time of 28:44.44.0. It is the first time in the history of the race that a South African, Stander, is part of the winning team.
In second place with an overall time of 28:51.52 were the German team of Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss (Multivan Merida Biking), with the Bulls, Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, in third place overall in 29:05.53 The Bulls Team won the Absa Cape Epic in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and Karl Platt won in the inaugural year (2004) with Mannie Heymans from Namibia. He is the most successful participant in the history of the race having won four times with eleven stage wins.
Flückiger brothers win final stage
The Swiss Flückiger brothers, Lukas and Mathias, of the Trek World Racing team, won the final stage of this year’s Absa Cape Epic in 2:33.18, with Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss (Multivan Merida Biking) in second place (2:35.37). They were closely followed by José Hermida and Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida Biking 3) in 2:39.06, with Alexandre Moos and Balthasar Weber of BMC Mountainbike Racing in fourth place (2:39.07). Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser (36ONE Songo Specialized) took a slower pace once they reached the final 200 metres in order to enjoy the overwhelming welcome of the crowds, finishing in fifth place in 2:39.19.
“We didn’t start off well today. We lost about 4 minutes with a flat,” Stander explained. “We then chased hard again to catch up with the leading group, only to find out that Multivan Merida had attacked. We finally caught up with them and could then relax and enjoy it to the finish.”
"Today was still hard, but we were prepared for that. To be the first South African to win this race is on par to winning the World Championships. The Absa Cape Epic takes more work because for eight days you have to be perfect instead of only one day.”
Christoph Sauser said: “This is only my opinion, but I was surprised when they attacked when we were having problems. We then had to risk not staying with our back-up teams to make up some time. When we finally caught up with them, we could enjoy the rest of the race. This race is definitely up there with the World Championships. I can’t describe the feeling of winning in words, but I know the exhaustion will hit us tomorrow.”
Lukas Flückiger was happy to have won but also happy the gruelling race was over.
“It feels fantastic to win the last stage at Lourensford. The race was so hard, but Mathias was in great shape today and I also felt good. I was completely exhausted yesterday, but luckily I recovered well. The Absa Cape Epic is amazing and I’m very happy that it’s over. It’s an amazing feeling to win this stage.”
Hannes Genze of Multivan Merida Biking had a crash during the final stage but was happy with second place.
“Around one corner I had to break too much and slipped. We’re very proud of our second place. Both Burry (Stander) and Christoph (Sauser) are former world champions and to be second to them is incredible. It was our goal to finish on the podium and we did everything we could. It was cool to cross the finish line today.”
His team mate Jochen Käss added: “Today’s race was wonderful. I felt really strong, but the brothers were also strong. We lost them in the walking section. In the end, to finish second overall is wonderful for us.”
Team USN wins Ladies category as Team Colnago Arreghini Südtirol wins the final stage
Sally Bigham and Karien Van Jaarsveld (Team USN) finished in third place on Sunday but are the overall winners of the Ladies category in 37:44.09. Lechner and Nathalie Schneitter (team Colnago Arreghini Südtirol) won the stage and so finished second place overall in a time of 39:18.02. In third place overall was the Absa aBreast team of Hanlie Booyens and Ischen Stopforth in 39:24.09. They finished in fifth place on the last day in a time of 3:43.49
Karien van Jaarsveld (USN) enjoyed winning her first ever Cape Epic.
“This is my first Absa Cape Epic and winning it is so special. Everything’s come together as planned. It was absolutely wonderful to finish at Lourensford today. The crowd and fans were so supportive during the entire event.”
Her UK team mate Sally Bigham said: “We weren’t chasing a win and just wanted to maintain our lead and stay safe. We didn’t want to take risks at all. I’m really happy with the win and enjoyed it a thousand times more than racing in the Mixed. The Ladies category is definitely the way to go for me. We supported each other and made an excellent team. In this race your relationship with partner is so important. This was so special – words can’t describe it.”
Schneitter was satisfied with the final stage victory.
“We knew we wouldn’t make it to the top and are happy with our second place after our one hour penalty earlier this week. I’m tired today but happy with our performance. It’s amazing to see how many people support the race. We wanted to win the final stage as we reckoned it’s the best one to win. All in all we won 6 of 8 the stages, so I think we’ve proved that we’re the fastest in this category.”
Her team mate Eva Lechner said: “I’m thrilled to be finished. Eight days is a long time and you had to get up every day and start again. It was lots of hours on the bike. Of course we’re disappointed that we didn’t win overall, but 6 wins are good. Maybe we’ll come back again to win.”
Seventh stage win secures win for Juwi team in Masters category
The Juwi team (Carsten Bresser and Udo Boelts) secured their seventh stage win today in 2:58.10 and won the Masters category in 31:31.26. They were followed by Robert Sim and Doug Brown of the Robert Daniel team in 3:00.20, who were second overall Masters, with the Toyota Cyclelab team of Gary Marescia and Bruce Diesel in third place in 3:05.26.
Says Udo Boelts of the Juwi team: “I’m glad it’s over. In one way it was very nice and in another way it was one of the toughest Cape Epics ever. It was my fourth Cape Epic and it’s great to come to Lourensford again. I’ll be back if I have the finances.”
Wheeler – BIXS team wins Mixed category
Erik Kleinhans and Ariane Lüthi (of Contego Giant Sludge) finally took their first stage win by finishing first in the Mixed category in 3:04.42 and so finished second overall in 34:52.27.
The Wheeler – BIXS team of Bärti Bucher and Esther Sϋss, won 7 stages of this year’s event and so wrapped up overall victory in a total time of 33:53.12. In third place overall were Ivonne Kraft and Peter Vesel (Raedisch Race) with a time of 37:04.39.
Esther Süss of Wheeler – Bixs said: “We had some problems today with water bottles and my chain. Erik (Kleinhans) and Ariane (Lüthi) were very strong today. It’s beautiful at Lourensford and I’m glad to be done. It’s the hardest Absa Cape Epic ever. I’ll be back next year to win the final stage.”
For Kleinhans it was a perfect wedding present. “I really enjoyed winning – especially here at Lourensford as we live in Stellenbosch. This is a fantastic wedding gift and it feels great to be first on the podium. The Absa Cape Epic has always been a tough race, and it’s a relief to relax tomorrow. I’ve loved every minute of this race.”
Ariane Lüthi added: “It’s so great to be here. I can’t express my emotions I’m so happy. It’s an awesome feeling. We really trained very hard and it’s nice to see our huge effort pay off. I’ve been concentrating the whole time and think I’ve grown by leaps and bounds this week. The win is a huge motivation and the biggest wedding present we could ever get. Erik is such a good partner and this experience has been amazing. We’ll definitely be back for more.”
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com