Both Topeak-Ergon teams experienced an early end to their Cape Epic mountain bike stage race due to some bad luck. Robert Mennen was injured in a collision with an antelope, and Milena Landtwing had to drop out due to a gastrointestinal infection.
Known as the "untamed stage race", the Cape Epic has been living up to its name. Mennen had a direct encounter with an untamed antelope during stage 1. He crashed and broke his collarbone which meant he and his teammate Alban Lakata were officially out of the race. Both had been favorites for the men's podium after winning the Andalucia Bike Race a few weeks ago.
"Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that something was approaching me pretty fast," said Mennen afterwards. "I was unable to avoid the collision, I wasn't even able to reach my brake levers." After the collision, he flew through the air Superman style.
Mennen is not yet sure whether his collarbone will require surgery, but he is keeping a positive attitude either way. "I will just look at this injury as a longer winter break. I can't wait to get back into training and build up my strength. I will attack in the second part of the season."
Lakata has continued on in the Cape Epic, not part of the overall official standings, but racing solo in the outcast jersey. "The Cape Epic was one of our highlights this year. We trained hard and we were really looking forward to race in South Africa," said Lakata. "Now I just want to see where I am standing and race against the best riders. This also brings a lot more competition experience for the rest of the season."
The Topeak-Ergon women did not fare much better. Sally Bigham's teammate Milena Landtwing is suffering from a stubborn gastrointestinal infection and had to withdraw from the race. Both riders were also seen as top favorites for the overall women's win after they, too, won the Andalucia Bike Race.
Bigham was hoping to win her third Cape Epic in a row.
"I am just extremely sorry for Sally. I really tried so hard, but in the end I just couldn't take it anymore," said Landtwing.
Check out the video from the Go Pro camera that Mennen was wearing when he hit the antelope.