South African rider Kevin Evans rode to victory on home soil yesterday in the first stage of the 2010 Absa Cape Epic, along with his Austrian marathon champion team-mate Alban Lakata.
The pair, who make up Team MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon, completed the gruelling 117km course in a time of 4:35.42. Rounding out the podium were Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander (Songo-Specialized by DCM), nearly three-and-a-half minutes back, and Emil Lindgren and Fabian Giger (Rabobank-Giant Off Road) at 4:15.
Hannele Steyn-Kotze and Ivonne Kraft (Sludge ladies) finished first among the women while Bärti Bucher and Esther Süss (Wheeler - BiXS) topped the mixed field.
Some 1,200 mountain bikers set off from the Diemersfontein wine estate, just outside of Wellington in South Africa, where a series of steep climbs provided a rude awakening.
The course, which took in tight switchbacks, fast dirt roads and rocky mountain singletrack, also had a sting in the tail – a 7.8km section over the iron sleepers and sharp stones of a railway line, which took riders to their final destination in Ceres.
"Normally my first day is not a good one, but obviously we got a few things right today," said Evans. "It was a rollercoaster ride, and I even had a puncture, but we kept it together with Alban saying, 'it's never over until it's over'.
"We chased the leading riders and were all riding together again before we knew it. Alban said we should keep it steady, but we really put the hammer down on the railway tracks like a steam train."
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