Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy set out to race the 2013 Cape Epic with two goals in mind: honor the memory of their late teammate Burry Stander and win the race. They accomplished both yesterday.
Sauser won the Cape Epic twice before with Stander, who was killed when he was hit by a taxi while training on January 3, 2013. Prior to Stander's death, they had planned to race together again this year. Then, Olympic cross country champion Kulhavy stepped in to race with Sauser.
"Riding for Burry those eight days, it was so important to give back," said Sauser according to iamspecialized.com. "When I was out there suffering, I'd tell myself, 'Be happy you're here' compared to Burry who lost his one and only life. It put things in perspective."
"It's one of my biggest victories," said first-time Cape Epic racer Kulhavy to iamspecialized.com. "It's one of the biggest stage races in the world. It's amazing! I'm glad for us and for Burry's family."
The pair kicked off the eight-day race with a prologue win and seemed on the fast track to glory, but in true Cape Epic style, despite being the strongest racers out on course, they had to overcome some obstacles along the way. There were three consecutive days of bad luck, including a broken wheel one day, missing a turn and getting slightly lost another day and finally breaking a chain and their chain tool. All three incidents cost them time and they dropped as low as third on the GC while rivals Team Bulls looked like they might be on their way to an overall win.
Sauser and Kulhavy's luck turned around on stage 4, which they won, and victories in stages 5 and 6 followed. They rode a conservative stage 7 to the finish in Lourensford, where they celebrated the overall victory with their support crew and members of Burry Stander's family.
Sauser and Kulhavy weren't the only riders racing in memory of Stander. Several teams rode in his honor, including his wife Cherise Stander, brother Duane Stander and father Charles Stander. All three finished the race, with Cherise and Duane taking an emotional second place finish during one stage and a fifth place overall in the mixed category.
Check out Cyclingnews' full coverage of eight days of racing at the Cape Epic.