A previous winner of the Absa Cape Epic in the ladies' category, Sharon Laws, had to withdraw from the 10th edition of the race yesterday after a serious fall in the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour. Her partner, Hanlie Booyens, will now be riding with Ischen Stopforth as team Pragma Volcan Ladies.
Booyens said, "Yesterday was a very challenging day for us all. To see a great friend in agony and heartbroken is never easy. Sharon had a horrible crash nearing the finish line of the Argus. She was out there having a brilliant ride, breaking away on Suikerbossie. She was in front, riding aggressively and unfortunately this meant she was the first in line when one of the guys went down, sending her rocketing over him and crashing badly."
"She was left with a broken collarbone, cracked ribs and a compressed fracture in her back. A great setback at the start of her European season and the end of our Cape Epic dream to ride the 10th together. Yes, she'll need some time but she'll be back!"
Cape Epic race founder Kevin Vermaak said, "It was an honour to have Hanlie and Sharon riding together and contending for the ladies' title in the 10th edition. They won their category for the inaugural race in 2004 and again in 2009 when the route had changed from the traditional Knysna to the Cape Town start. It's a huge personal loss as it was particularly auspicious that they would be riding in this, the landmark 10th year."
"Hanlie and Sharon were special in that they were going to be the only winning team that is back to ride and contend as the same team in the same category. They have won the ladies' category every time they have ridden together."
The 698km Cape Epic will begin on March 17 and run until March 24.
Booyens and Stopforth will also make a strong team.
"With regards to the Cape Epic, I discussed it with Sharon and we agreed that the best suitable replacement would be top South African rider, Ischen Stopforth," said Booyens. "I'm so grateful to her for agreeing on very short notice to step in! We'll make the best of the race - it's the only way."