The final 80km stage eight of the eight-day Cape Epic mountain bike race in South Africa took a physical, mental, and emotional toll on exhausted racers as it took them through Winelands territory, but the were welcomed by thousands of supporters at the finish in Lourensford.
Out of 603 teams that started last Saturday in Knysna, 468 completed all eight torturous stages - 278 Men, 125 Masters, 52 Mixed and 13 Ladies Teams crossed the finish line in Lourensford Saturday for a finishing rate of 77.6 percent. However, only 15.7 percent of the total number of riders dropped out of the race. Cape Epic rules allow participants who lose a team partner to continue to race.
It came down to the very last stage but Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm of Team Bulls managed to defend their tenuous hold on the lead. The Germans headed into the final 75km day with only a 3.5 minute margin, but they pulled off a third-place finish, only one place and 11 seconds behind challengers Belgian Roel Paulissen and Dane Jakob Fugslang (Cannondale-Vredestein 1), who tried everything to win on the final stretch. The stage itself was won by Swiss Team Texner-Stoeckli's Thomas Zahnd and Sandro Spaeth.
Check out all eight days of our Cape Epic coverage here (which includes some amazing photo galleries. Cyclingnews diarist Myriam Suagy also sent in notes from each day's competiton as she and teammate Fabienne Heinzmann managed to finish second overall in the women's competition (see below).