Sauser and Rabon win stage 3 at Cape Epic

Mennen and Hynek take over race lead

German mountain biker Robert Mennen had barely pulled on the yellow Cape Epic leader's jersey after Wednesday's stage 3 and he was musing about whether it was cursed.

"We're a little bit afraid - I'm not sure if there's a little bit of bad luck, but hopefully we can keep it on our shoulders a bit longer (than the others have)," said German Mennen, who together with Topeak-Ergon teammate Kristian Hynek took the overall lead Wednesday.

Three teams have worn what would normally be regarded as one of the most prized rewards in their sport in the race's three stages so far - and each has suffered a disastrous day.

The 134km stage from Robertson to Greyton - the longest this year - was won in a sprint by Switzerland's Christoph Sauser, aiming for his fifth overall win, and Czech Frantisek Rabon (Meerendal Songo Specialized).

Wednesday it was the turn of the other four-time winner Karl Platt to fall victim to the travails of those wearing the yellow jersey. The German and teammate Urs Huber (Bulls) began the day in yellow after a strong stage 2, but it was soon evident that he was suffering from a knee damaged in a crash on Tuesday.

The other top teams, sensing a weakness, attacked strongly and at about 50km a grimacing Platt could no longer resist. A group of three teams pulled away from the Bulls pair on a stage characterised by open roads, rolling hills and a persistent wind - much of it directly in the riders' faces.

Sauser and Rabon are third overall after winning the sprint in 4:53:36. Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kaess (Centurion-Vaude) finished a split second behind Sauser and Rabon, but their disastrous stage 2 - when Kaufmann broke the frame of his bike while they were wearing yellow - meant the Germans are out of contention for the overall win.

Mennen and Hynek finished third in the sprint and their steady performances over four days - including a prologue - in which other top teams have all either battled with mechanical problems, illness or crashes have given them what might be a telling lead.

Platt and Huber finished nearly 11 minutes back in sixth, but are still second overall - 15 seconds ahead of Sauser and Rabon, but nine-and-a-half minutes behind Mennen and Hynek.

The Topeak-Ergon pairing have impressed with their powerful riding and generally calm approach, but do not have a back-up team. Sauser and Rabon have been enjoying great support from South Africans Erik Kleinhans and Nico Bell (RECM), and this could prove decisive by the time the riders reach the finish at Lourensford Wine Estate on Sunday.

"So far it is the most interesting Epic in many years," said Sauser. "I thought the Bulls would still be in the lead after the stage. When I saw Karl dropping out of the back of the lead group I went to the front and said to the guys we must go for it now."

Rabon, who has converted to mountain biking from road riding, said, "Today there was extra pressure on me because everybody said this stage would suit me. But now I can say I enjoyed a stage at the Epic. After all the bad luck and chasing the whole time, we could do some racing today."

Mennen entered mountain biking legend at last year's Cape Epic when he broke his collarbone after crashing into a duiker. "Last year I was out of the race so early after hitting the antelope," he said Wednesday. "This year's like getting something back from last year."

The team in yellow after the prologue on Sunday, Spaniard Jose Hermida and Dutchman Rudi van Houts (Multivan Merida), lost the jersey when the former suffered an allergic reaction to something in his breakfast before Monday's stage 1 and could barely finish the ride.

Stage 3 signalled the end to the hopes of two other top teams. German Hannes Genze - riding with Swiss Konny Looser (Meerendal Centurion Wheeler) - broke and badly gashed his his forearm in a heavy crash midway through the stage and could not continue. And South African Waylon Woolcock did not get to the start after succumbing to a stomach bug overnight, leaving partner Darren Lill (Cannondale Blend) to continue on his own but out the race.

South Africa's Philip Buys, riding with cross country world champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo) broke away from the leaders early in yesterday's staged but faded towards the end, finishing fourth but nearly five minutes back. They are now seventh overall.

Women

Original women's favourites Swiss Ariane Kleinhans and Dane Annike Langvad (RECM 2) won the category by two-and-a-half minutes in 5:34:07, but will be disappointed in their performance: they were hoping to make up more time on the overall leaders but ended up riding on their own in windy, blustery conditions and appeared to weaken towards the end.

They are now 11 minutes behind leaders Esther Suss, also Swiss, and England's Sally Bigham (Meerendal) in the race for overall honours. Kleinhans and Langvad were plagued by punctures and technical problems on stage one and lost 24 minutes on that day.

Suss said, "I could see again today! I had two pairs of glasses with me just to make sure I didn't struggle like yesterday! Today was not really my kind of stage. It was flat and fast, but my legs were strong and we didn’t lose too much time."

South Africa's Theresa Ralph and her Swedish teammate Jennie Stenerhag (Cape Brewing Company) remain third but are now 51 minutes behind the leaders.

Mixed

Theo Blignaut and Cherise Stander of RECM Mixed won the mixed category for the first time in 5:46:00. They were followed by Mauritians Yannick Lincoln and Aurelie Halbwachs of Synergy in 5:47:04. In third place were Asrin Cycling’s Nizaam Essa and Christina Kollmann. Synergy leads this category by 18 minutes and 55 seconds.

Stander said, "It was a long, tough stage because of the wind and the open roads. I think we made some rookie errors. We rode alone for most of the day and in this wind that was stupid. That is what the overall leaders did. With 20km to go we were in the same group as them again. In the final 5km Theo and I just gave it one final push. We didn't really make up much time, but it was nice to not lose time for a change. Theo was so strong today."

Blignaut jokingly said, "I ordered Cherise's legs on E-bay and they were delivered this morning. We had a good day. I only got my legs going after 100km. I had no idea I was good in the long stages like this! I'm very chuffed with our stage victory."

Masters

The masters category was again won by Bart Brentjens and Abraao Azevedo (BETCH.nl Superior Meerendal) in a time of 5:28:58. They were followed by Shan Wilson and Adrian Enthoven of Definitive Bikes team in 5:30:22 with Pascal de Kort and Bart van de Water of Technofit in third place (5:35:50). Wilson and Enthoven remain in the lead by three minutes and 59 seconds and are placed 19th overall.

Grand Masters

Andrew McLean and Heinz Zoerweg of Cycle Lab Toyota finished in first place in the grand masters for the fourth day in a row in a time of 5:27:14. They were followed by Bärti Bucher and Doug Brown of Meerendal Songo Specialized 4. Lieb Loots and Izak Visagie of Pragma Nampak finished third today .

Africans

Erik Kleinhans and Nico Bell (RECM) were by far the most influential South African riders in Wednesday’s stage three of the Absa Cape Epic - they worked tirelessly to help Christoph Sauser and Frantisek Rabon (Meerendal Songo Specialized) win the stage - but the African jersey stayed in the hands of Max Knox and Kevin Evans (FedGroup Itec).

Knox and Evans are eighth overall in 15:45.11,5, five minutes ahead of Scott Factory Racing’s Matthys Beukes and Gert Heyns.

Beukes said, "My legs felt good today. We rode very hard, but at one point I was behind another group due to some traffic. I really had to push hard to catch up."

Kleinhans and Bell faded a bit towards the end of Wednesday, finishing eighth, but have recovered from their troubled opening stages to move up to 11th overall, third among the all-South African teams.

Quickest South African on the day was Philip Buys, riding with cross country world champion Nino Schurter, who finished fourth yesterday after the Scott-Odlo combination had been leading for a while.

Stage 4: Greyton to Greyton (88Km, 1800m of climbing)

Stage 4 will be the kind of day that makes a mountain biker's heart beat faster - due to the abundance of singletrack (although there will be plenty of climbing crammed into the relatively short stage).

The stage will be a constant roller coaster of farm roads, twisty and rocky singletrack as well as some district roads in the middle section for riders to spin out their legs. A historical highlight of the day will be a visit to the small town of Genadendal, the first mission station in Southern Africa, with its Moravian Church. More flowing trails will take riders to the neighbouring town of Greyton. As the crow flies it will be less than 10km from there to finish, but instead riders will be left wondering whether to love or hate the route designers over the next 25-odd-kilometres where (on tired legs) short but hard climbs alternate with exhilarating descents. All in all, it will be a fun day, although no rider should believe that fun means easy.

Brief Results

Men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Christoph Sauser (Swi) and Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Meerendal Songo Specialized4:53:35 
2Markus Kaufmann (Ger) and Jochen Kaess (Ger) Centurion-Vaude0:00:00 
3Robert Mennen (Ger) and Kristian Hynek (Cze) Topeak-Ergon Racing0:00:02 
4Nino Schurter (Swi) and Philip Buys (RSA) Scott-Odlo0:04:51 
5Roel Paulissen (Bel) and Riccardo Chiarini (Ita) Torpado Factory0:10:27 
6Karl Platt (Ger) and Urs Huber (Swi) Bulls0:10:38 
7Tim Boehme (Ger) and Simon Stiebjahn (Ger) Bulls 20:10:38 
8Erik Kleinhans (RSA) and Nico Bell (RSA) RECM0:11:44 
9Jose Hermida (Spa) and Rudi van Houts (Ned) Multivan Merida0:20:33 
10Stefan Sahm (Fra) and Thomas Diestch (Fra) Bulls 30:24:08 
Women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ariane Kleinhans (Swi) and Annika Langvad (Den) RECM 25:34:07 
2Esther Suss (Swi) and Sally Bigham (GBr) Meerendal0:02:31 
3Milena Landtwing (Swi) and Hielke Elferink (Ned) Meerendal Wheeler0:18:37 
4Jennie Stenerhag (Swe) and Theresa Ralph (RSA) Cape Brewing Company0:23:57 
5Sara Mertens (Bel) and Laura Turpin (Ned) Meerendal Wheeler 20:31:05 
6Ischen Stopforth (RSA) and Yolande de Villiers (RSA) SasolRacing0:59:08 
7Yolandi du Toit (RSA) and Leana De Jager (RSA) SasolRacing 21:00:44 
8Hanlie Booyens (RSA) and Mariske Strauss (RSA) Pragma Orange Monkey1:11:54 
9Tanya Rabie (RSA) and Nicola Walker (RSA) Woolworths In2Food1:19:41 
10Theresa Horn (RSA) and Desiree Loubser (RSA) Khombisa Media1:28:30 
Mixed
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Cherise Stander (RSA) and Theo Blignaut (RSA) RECM Mixed5:46:00 
2Yannick Lincoln (Mau) and Aurelie Halbwachs (Mau) Synergy0:01:04 
3Nizaam Essa (RSA) and Christina Kollman (Aut) Asrin Cycling0:29:21 
4Tom Janas (Ger) and Bettina Uhlig (Ger) Sportograf.com - BQ Cycling0:34:32 
5Gal Tsachor (Isr) and Idit Shub (Isr) Trek Israel0:39:50 
6Sophie van Biervliet (Bel) and Jan Stockman (Bel) 't Velootje0:45:18 
7Pablo Rodriguez (Arg) and Lolita van Aardt (RSA) Orphans Africa MTB0:45:56 
8Eric Wictor (Ned) and Hanneke Boon (Ned) Velozine0:57:34 
9Henning Blaauw (RSA) and Louise Ferreira (RSA) Globeflight1:00:59 
10Vaughn Roux (RSA) and Sunet Geldenhuys (RSA) ENS Mixed1:03:19 
Masters
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bart Brentjens (Ned) and Abraao Azevedo (Bra) Betch.nl Superior Meerendal5:28:58 
2Shan Wilson (RSA) and Adrian Enthoven (RSA) Definitive Bikes0:01:24 
3Pascal de Kort (Bel) and Bart van de Water (Bel) Technofit0:06:52 
4Warren Squires (Zim) and Nic White (RSA) Absa masters0:17:55 
5Jean-Luc Perez (Fra) and Stephane Pouillet (Fra) Comus-DCM Precision0:26:07 
6Udo Boelts (Ger) and Lothar Leder (Ger) Juwi Fox0:26:22 
7Leon Erasmus (RSA) and Dennis du Toit (RSA) Pragma Teahmo0:29:43 
8Robert Enthoven (GBr) and Edward Nicholson (GBr) Nando's0:30:54 
9Andy Davies (GBr) and Marius Nel (RSA) Pragma BikePlus0:31:26 
10Igna de Villiers (RSA) and Pierre Griffioen (RSA) LGE/Midas/DWR0:31:40 
Grand Masters
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Andrew Mclean (RSA) and Heinz Zoerweg (Aut) Cycle Lab Toyota5:27:14 
2Barti Bucher (Swi) and Doug Brown (RSA) Meerendal Songo Specialized 40:02:43 
3Lieb Loots (RSA) and Izak Visagie (RSA) Pragma Nampak0:25:19 
4Eben Espach (RSA) and Corrie Muller (RSA) Absa Grand Masters0:36:41 
5Waleed Baker (RSA) and Glen Haw (RSA) Pitstop0:42:52 
6William Werthheim (RSA) and Greg Anderson (RSA) NUK Orthodontic0:54:12 
7Thomas Dooley (USA) and Mike Hogan (USA) Kappius / Sir Richards0:55:00 
8James Stopforth (RSA) and Peter Stopforth (RSA) MN70:55:43 
9Gideon Knoetze (RSA) and Linus van Onselen (RSA)0:56:40 
10Tomas Pribyl (Cze) and Jaroslav Send (Cze) Author Masters1:06:44 
Africans
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Erik Kleinhans (RSA) and Nico Bell (RSA) RECM5:05:19 
2Kevin Evans (RSA) and Max Knox (RSA) FedGroup Itec0:13:22 
3Matthys Beukes (RSA) and Gert Heyns (RSA) Scott Factory Racing0:13:22 
4Johann Rabie (RSA) and Neil MacDonald (RSA) FedGroup Itec 20:13:24 
5Andrew Hill (RSA) and Charles Keey (RSA) RED-E Blend0:21:20 
6Oliver Munnik (RSA) and Alastair Davies (RSA) Paarl Media Pinners0:24:18 
7Shan Wilson (RSA) and Adrian Enthoven (RSA) Definitive Bikes0:25:03 
8Rowan Grobler (RSA) and Andrew Grobler (RSA) Gear Dunkeld Cycles0:31:47 
9Craig Boyes (RSA) and Lous-Bresler Knipe (RSA) Asrin cycling0:33:18 
10Bradley Stroberg (RSA) and Guylin van den Berg (RSA) SOAR0:36:39 
Men general classification after stage 3
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Robert Mennen (Ger) and Kristian Hynek (Cze) Topeak-Ergon Racing14:56:42 
2Karl Platt (Ger) and Urs Huber (Swi) Bulls0:09:27 
3Christoph Sauser (Swi) and Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Meerendal Songo Specialized0:09:41 
4Tim Boehme (Ger) and Simon Stiebjahn (Ger) Bulls 20:12:27 
5Roel Paulissen (Bel) and Riccardo Chiarini (Ita) Torpado Factory0:25:50 
6Lukas Fluckiger (Swi) and Martin Fanger (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing0:30:37 
7Nino Schurter (Swi) and Philip Buys (RSA) Scott-Odlo0:38:57 
8Kevin Evans (RSA) and Max Knox (RSA) FedGroup Itec0:48:30 
9Stefan Sahm (Fra) and Thomas Diestch (Fra) Bulls 30:54:32 
10Matthys Beukes (RSA) and Gert Heyns (RSA) Scott Factory Racing1:03:46 
Women general classification after stage 3
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Esther Suss (Swi) and Sally Bigham (GBr) Meerendal17:15:19 
2Ariane Kleinhans (Swi) and Annika Langvad (Den) RECM 20:11:23 
3Jennie Stenerhag (Swe) and Theresa Ralph (RSA) Cape Brewing Company0:51:23 
4Milena Landtwing (Swi) and Hielke Elferink (Ned) Meerendal Wheeler1:22:31 
5Sara Mertens (Bel) and Laura Turpin (Ned) Meerendal Wheeler 21:38:12 
6Ischen Stopforth (RSA) and Yolande de Villiers (RSA) SasolRacing2:11:53 
7Yolandi du Toit (RSA) and Leana De Jager (RSA) SasolRacing 23:33:32 
8Hanlie Booyens (RSA) and Mariske Strauss (RSA) Pragma Orange Monkey3:35:06 
9Tanya Rabie (RSA) and Nicola Walker (RSA) Woolworths In2Food3:46:53 
10Celina Carpinteiro (Por) and Katerina Slegrova (Cze) Itec/BTT Loulé/BPI4:41:28 
Mixed general classification after stage 3
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Yannick Lincoln (Mau) and Aurelie Halbwachs (Mau) Synergy18:02:37 
2Cherise Stander (RSA) and Theo Blignaut (RSA) RECM Mixed0:18:55 
3Gal Tsachor (Isr) and Idit Shub (Isr) Trek Israel1:11:26 
4Nizaam Essa (RSA) and Christina Kollman (Aut) Asrin Cycling1:46:16 
5Tom Janas (Ger) and Bettina Uhlig (Ger) Sportograf.com - BQ Cycling2:03:50 
6Pablo Rodriguez (Arg) and Lolita van Aardt (RSA) Orphans Africa MTB2:13:21 
7Sophie van Biervliet (Bel) and Jan Stockman (Bel) 't Velootje2:19:31 
8Peter Vesel (Ger) and Anni Hellstern (Ger) ETIS2:45:37 
9Sabina Compassi (Swi) and Paul Buhler (Swi) Meerendal Songo Specialized 82:50:09 
10Eric Wictor (Ned) and Hanneke Boon (Ned) Velozine2:54:07 
Masters general classification after stage 3
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Shan Wilson (RSA) and Adrian Enthoven (RSA) Definitive Bikes16:51:48 
2Bart Brentjens (Ned) and Abraao Azevedo (Bra) Betch.nl Superior Meerendal0:03:59 
3Pascal de Kort (Bel) and Bart van de Water (Bel) Technofit0:23:08 
4Warren Squires (Zim) and Nic White (RSA) Absa masters1:34:22 
5Rory Mapston (RSA) and Rex Benson (RSA) CHIC Foundation1:35:46 
6Andy Davies (GBr) and Marius Nel (RSA) Pragma BikePlus1:39:09 
7Udo Boelts (Ger) and Lothar Leder (Ger) Juwi Fox1:43:05 
8Robert Enthoven (GBr) and Edward Nicholson (GBr) Nando's1:44:41 
9Igna de Villiers (RSA) and Pierre Griffioen (RSA) LGE/Midas/DWR1:45:45 
10Richard Lurie (RSA) and Leendert Lorenzen (RSA) Eurocasa1:50:14 
Grand masters general classification after stage 3
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Andrew Mclean (RSA) and Heinz Zoerweg (Aut) Cycle Lab Toyota16:25:35 
2Barti Bucher (Swi) and Doug Brown (RSA) Meerendal Songo Specialized 40:50:47 
3Eben Espach (RSA) and Corrie Muller (RSA) Absa Grand Masters1:42:22 
4Lieb Loots (RSA) and Izak Visagie (RSA) Pragma Nampak2:04:40 
5Waleed Baker (RSA) and Glen Haw (RSA) Pitstop2:36:43 
6William Werthheim (RSA) and Greg Anderson (RSA) NUK Orthodontic3:12:36 
7Thomas Dooley (USA) and Mike Hogan (USA) Kappius / Sir Richards3:22:34 
8James Stopforth (RSA) and Peter Stopforth (RSA) MN73:45:57 
9Tomas Pribyl (Cze) and Jaroslav Send (Cze) Author Masters4:08:42 
10Ivar Tollefsen (Nor) and Tronde Hilde Gutta Boyz4:14:55 
African classification after stage 3
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kevin Evans (RSA) and Max Knox (RSA) FedGroup Itec15:45:12 
2Matthys Beukes (RSA) and Gert Heyns (RSA) Scott Factory Racing0:15:17 
3Erik Kleinhans (RSA) and Nico Bell (RSA) RECM0:16:47 
4Andrew Hill (RSA) and Charles Keey (RSA) RED-E Blend0:29:38 
5Johann Rabie (RSA) and Neil MacDonald (RSA) FedGroup Itec 20:39:51 
6Craig Boyes (RSA) and Lous-Bresler Knipe (RSA) Asrin cycling1:03:12 
7Shan Wilson (RSA) and Adrian Enthoven (RSA) Definitive Bikes1:06:36 
8Oliver Munnik (RSA) and Alastair Davies (RSA) Paarl Media Pinners1:27:55 
9Fritz Pienaar (RSA) and Francois Theron (RSA) Advendurance1:52:39 
10Dominic Calitz (RSA) and Jurgen Uys (RSA) Paarl Media Young Guns1:58:57 

 

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