The dust has barely settled after the end of the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race and many foreign athletes are well underway on their epic travel journeys homeward. Missed any action from last week or want to remember the highlights from all eight days of racing? The videos from each stage below summarize all the action.
In the men's race Christoph Sauser & Burry Stander (36One-Songo-Specialized) beat South African duo Kevin Evans & David George (360Life).
"The Cape Epic is a story. Every day is a chapter and that makes it so amazing," said Stander after winning. "Now we know the yellow jersey is ours. Until now it felt like we were borrowing it. Nothing compares to it. I have enough time to recover before the big events of the season start."
"Every year, the Cape Epic gets harder, the intensity is much higher. Crossing the finish line here at Lourensford Wine Estate is the best feeling of the whole week," said Sauser, who also won in 2006 and 2001. "It's so big for us and good for the confidence and looking forward to the rest of the season our form is great. This is my third victory overall in this race and it's such a great feeling."
In the women's race, Sally Bigham & Esther Süss (Wheels4Life) won every stage but the fifth on their way to winning the overall. Theresa Ralph & Nina Gässler (Biogen Britehouse) and Karien van Jaarsveld & Jane Nuessli (MTN Qhubeka Ladies) rounded out ladies' podium.
"Right now, it is party time," said Bigham immediately after the finish. She noted that this win was better than the previous year's win because "we were such a good team, so strong - it makes it even more rewarding - exhausting, but such great fun. I loved every minute."
Married couple Erik & Ariane Kleinhans (Contego 28E) dominated the mixed category while Bart Brentjens & Jan Weevers (World Bicycle Relief) took top honors among the masters.
"This was the first time for me racing in the masters category at the Cape Epic after riding the Epic for six editions in the elite men's category," said 1996 Olympic champion Brentjens. "In the elite category I won the epic in 2005 and in 2009 we ended up second in GC. Winning it this year again is sweet!
"The Cape Epic is the most beautiful stage races - hard and demanding. I love the Cape Epic. It feels for me like my world championship every year, since I stopped racing top level."
"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves because this was the biggest goal of the year," said Erik Kleinhans. "There's a lot of relief in the Kleinhans household. You experience all the emotions during the week, but the 1km to go sign was absolutely great!"
A happy ending
For some racers, the end of the Cape Epic was happier than others.
Denver Knoetzen, 32, from Stellenbosch who participated as part of team Hamburger Perlen, proposed to his girlfriend, Katryn Schoon, just after he crossed the finish line at Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West on Sunday. Knoetzen only heard that he's taking part in this year's race on Saturday, 24 March, the day before the prologue.
Knoetzen, who works in the IT industry, was doing his third edition of the race. Even though Knoetzen has been planning to ask his girlfriend to marry him for a couple of months, he only decided to do it at the finish line when he heard he got in. "I've been planning to ask her for a few months and I've had the ring for a while. On Saturday, when I found out I'm going to do the Cape Epic, I decided that I'm going to use this opportunity to propose. The Cape Epic has been as much a part of her life as it's been of mine, so I thought it would be the perfect moment," said Knoetzen.
Knoetzen and Schoon, 26, who is doing her Masters in Meat Science, have been together for one year and 10 months. He asked his friend to pick up the ring from his house and bring it to Lourensford. "I stopped as I got into Lourensford and my mate brought me the ring. As I crossed the finish line, Katryn was waiting for me and I got down on my knee and asked her to marry me," said Knoetzen.
Commenting on this year's Cape Epic, Knoetzen said, "The race was really tough this year. The fact that I didn't have time to prepare for the race obviously played an important part. The weather conditions made the race really difficult."
Knoetzen finished the race as an individual finisher, after his partner had to withdraw during stage 3. "The heat during stages 1 and 2 got to him. He got dehydrated at the third waterpoint during stage 3, so he decided to withdraw. I decided to go on and see if I can finish in time - I crossed the finish line 20 minutes before cut-off."
All videos are provided courtesy of the Absa Cape Epic organizers.
Prologue (TTT) video
Stage 1 video
Stage 2 video
Stage 3 video
Stage 4 video
Stage 5 video
Stage 6 video
Stage 7 video