Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander (Songo.info) have been dealt another blow at South Africa's Cape Epic. The pair had a commanding lead on the event until Stander damaged his bike on stage four, which has led to a 15 minute penalty from officials.
After hitting a tree and breaking his rim on the event's most recent stage, Stander was offered a bike by fellow South African Max Knox. Knox and teammate Brandon Stewart (DCM Chrome) were significantly down on general classification, so gladly helped Stander by first offering a wheel then his entire bike when the wheel didn't match Stander's setup.
As a result of the incident, International Cycling Union officials have penalized both teams. While Sauser and Stander had already lost their overall lead, the penalty drops them further down the general classification.
"The UCI commissaires decided this evening to give the Songo.info team of Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander a time penalty of 15 minutes as they benefitted from the outside assistance given to Max Knox and Brandon Stewart (DCM Chrome)," read a release from the organisers. "The DCM Chrome team received a time penalty of 1 hour as they were assisted by day trippers on the route."
Stander, who has been in the lead since the start of the race with teammate Sauser, was very upset after the day's stage. "I hit a tree, my wheel went sideways and the rim broke," he said. "Max Knox wanted to give me his front wheel, but our forks didn't match. That's why we exchanged bikes. Perhaps I've risked a bit too much. However, I'm still feeling great although we were pushing very hard to catch up."
Stewart was simply happy they could help the former race leaders. "It's pretty cool to be able to help someone," he said. "Yesterday we could help David George with a cartridge. Burry and Christoph have been racing so well, they deserve to win. That's why we wanted to help when they were in trouble.
"We were not competing for top honours and now we're just here to enjoy it," he added. "We would really help anybody if we can and hopefully that will pay off one day when we're in need."
Sauser and Stander had dominated the race up until the incident. The duo claimed the opening prologue then went on to win the following three stages.