Mennen and Hynek conquer the Cape Epic

Kleinhans and Langvad win the women's overall

German Robert Mennen and his Czech teammate Kristian Hynek (Topeak-Ergon) coolly defended their lead during the seventh and final stage of the Cape Epic to take overall honours in the prestigious mountain bike stage race for the first time.

A large and lively crowd gathered at the finish line at Lourensford Wine Estate, Somerset West, also witnessed Gert Heyns and Matthys Beukes (Scott factory Racing) become the first South Africans ever to win the closing stage - the most sought after stage in the event. And adopted South African Ariane Kleinhans - Swiss but living in Stellenbosch - and her Danish teammate Annika Langvad were warmly cheered across the line as they won the women’s category by some distance.

Mennen and Hynek started the 67km stage from Elgin with a more than 10-minute lead and defended it comfortably - finishing in a group containing their main general classification rivals.

“I got some revenge for last year,” said Mennen afterwards in reference to the incident in the 2013 Cape Epic when he hit a duiker that ran in front of his bicycle, was thrown over his handlebars and broke his collarbone.

“But I never thought I could win the biggest mountain bike stage race in the world …it feels incredible,” said Mennen, who has competed in the Cape Epic twice before.

Hynek was riding his first Epic and confessed to sleeping very little on Saturday night: “It was a big relief to cross the line after having problems on the earlier stages, but nothing went wrong today.”

With a little bit of help from their friends, Hynek and Mennen held on to the zebra-striped yellow leaders’ jersey from stage three. On earlier stages Hynek had twice been the beneficiary of sportsmanship by fellow professionals Centurion-Vaude - Germans Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kaess - when they handed over their wheels after he got punctures.

About 45km into Sunday’s stage a group of four riders - none in contention for overall laurels - broke away.

Cross country world champion Nino Schurter of Switzerland and his South African teammate Philip Buys (Scott-Odlo) turned up the pace and their back-up team - locals Matthys Beukes and Gert Heyns (Scott Factory Racing) - joined them. The chasing pack - led by former Epic winner Roel Paulissen of Belgium and Riccardo Chiarini of Italy (Torpado) - could not reel them in.

As the two teams approached the finish line on the grass at Lourensford, Buys and Schurter backed off, allowing the young South Africans to take the stage and make a piece of Epic history.

An emotional Beukes said the win in the prestigious final stage into Lourensford was “unbelievable … to do this with my two best friends (Heyns and Buys) and the world champion - who’s also become our friend - was very special”.

They and the Scott-Odlo team had got away from others on the portage down the old wagon trail alongside Sir Lowry’s Pass. “Once we realised we were going to win in front of our friends and family nothing could have stopped us … we could have gone on forever,” said Beukes.

Four-time winner Christoph Sauser of Switzerland had started the day with Czech partner Frantisek Rabon (Meerendal Songo Specialized) determined to make inroads into the overall lead of Hynek and Mennen, but had to settle for second overall after being unable to shake off the Topeak-Ergon team.

Sauser said he was disappointed not to win after “chasing the yellow every day … but that’s the Cape Epic, that’s how it is”. He and Rabon suffered several punctures and some technical problems during the race.

Rabon, competing in his first Cape Epic since switching to mountain biking from road racing, said he had been “to hell and back many times”. He had learnt that the racing was more intense than on the road - where you could rest in the peloton on a bad day.

There was some consolation for the Bulls team after losing race favourite Karl Platt to an injury when its back-up team - Germans Tim Boehme and Simon Stiebjahn (Bulls 2) - finished third overall.

Women

Kleinhans and Langvad (RECM2) won the women’s category by more than 30 minutes, overturning a 24-minute deficit after stage one when they were plagued by punctures and mechanical problems.

They had ridden a conservative race Sunday to hold their lead, but still won the stage by 12 minutes.

Langvad said the finish at Lourensford was “amazing … overwhelming … surreal with this huge crowd”. Kleinhans thanked South Africans who had “adopted me as their daughter … their support made me very emotional”.

Esther Suss of Switzerland and Briton Sally Bigham (Meerendal) finished second and South African Theresa Ralph and Swede Jennie Stenerhag (Cape Brewing Company) were third.

Mixed

Yannick Lincoln and Aurelie Halbwachs of Synergy won the mixed category overall in a time of 37:07:20. They were followed by Gal Tsachor and Idit Shub of Trek Israel in 39:03.37 with Tom Janas and Bettina Uhlig of Sportograf.com - BQ Cycling in third place in 39:42.31. They (Sportograf.com - BQ Cycling) also won today's stage in 3:41.29. Synergy beat their closest rivals by 1 hour, 56 minutes and 17 seconds.

Lincoln said, "I've never experienced the Epic like this. It's the biggest victory ever. I can't believe it. We never expected it."

Halbwachs said, "In 2009, I ended 24th and now I won! It's not something I really have words for."

Masters

Bart Brentjens and Abraao Azevedo (Betch.nl Superior Meerendal) reigned supreme in the masters category and won the final stage (3:28:25) as well as the overall in a time of 33:53:04. South Africans Shan Wilson and Adrian Enthoven of Definitive Bikes finished second overall with Absa Masters Warren Squires and Nic White in third place overall. Brentjens and Azevedo won by 19 minutes and 25 seconds.

Brentjens said, "We got stronger everyday and to finish this way is amazing. It's a great end to a great Epic."

His teammate Azevedo said, "Riding with Bart was a great experience and very special. I enjoyed being part of the Epic and the team. I enjoyed every day."

Grand masters

The South African and Austrian duo, Andrew Mclean and Heinz Zoerweg of Cycle Lab Toyota won the Grand masters overall in a time of 33:56:38. They won the prologue as well as six stages of this year's race. They were followed by Bärti Bucher and Doug Brown of Meerendal Songo Specialized 4 with Absa Grand Masters Eben Espach and Corrie Muller in third place overall. Bärti Bucher and Doug Brown of Meerendal Songo Specialized 4 won their first stage in this year's race in 3:33:36. Mclean and Zoerweg won this category by 59 minutes and 47 seconds.

Mclean said, "It's all about the jersey. We ended up winning almost all the stages, but in the end all that we wanted was the jersey. It was a great experience riding with someone I didn't really know before the time. We worked so well together despite that. I had a good time with Heinz."

Africans

Gert Heyns and Matthys Beukes's stirring win on the seventh and final stage ensured that they became the first all-African team to complete the eight-day event.

The Scott Factory Racing pair had been wearing the red African jersey - for the best performing team from the continent - since Thursday and Sunday's result put them into sixth place overall, two positions and 22 minutes ahead of closest rivals Erik Kleinhans and Nico Bell (RECM).

Philip Buys, racing with cross country world champion Nino Schurter from Switzerland, was the best-placed South African in fifth overall.

Best all-South African team on the women's event was Sasol Racing's Yolande de Villiers and Ischen Stopforth, sixth overall, but Theresa Ralph managed to get on to the podium in third place with her Swedish partner Jennie Stenerhag.

Shan Wilson and Adrian Enthoven (Definitive Bikes) were the fastest South Africans in the masters category, but had to settle for second overall, 19 minutes behind Dutchman Bart Brentjens and Brazilian Abraao Azevedo (BETCH.nl Superior Meerendal).

Nic White and Zimbabwean Warren Squires were third in the category, but more than two hours back.

Andrew Mclean, riding with Austrian Heinz Zoerweg (Cycle Lab Toyota), finished an incredible 15th overall to secure the grandmasters title ahead of Doug Brown and Switzerland's Barti Bucher (Meerendal Songo Specialized 4), who were nearly an hour behind. Eben Esbach and Corrie Muller (Absa) were third.Mixed

Yannick Lincoln and Aurelie Halbwachs of Synergy won the mixed category overall in a time of 37:07:20. They were followed by Gal Tsachor and Idit Shub of Trek Israel in 39:03.37 with Tom Janas and Bettina Uhlig of Sportograf.com - BQ Cycling in third place in 39:42.31. They (Sportograf.com - BQ Cycling) also won today's stage in 3:41.29. Synergy beat their closest rivals by 1 hour, 56 minutes and 17 seconds.

Lincoln said, "I've never experienced the Epic like this. It's the biggest victory ever. I can't believe it. We never expected it."

Halbwachs said, "In 2009, I ended 24th and now I won! It's not something I really have words for."

Results

Men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Matthys Beukes (RSA) and Gert Heyns (RSA) Scott Factory Racing3:00:02 
2Nino Schurter (Swi) and Philip Buys (RSA) Scott-Odlo0:00:00 
3Roel Paulissen (Bel) and Riccardo Chiarini (Ita) Torpado Factory0:02:22 
4Lukas Fluckiger (Swi) and Martin Fanger (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing0:04:25 
5Tim Boehme (Ger) and Simon Stiebjahn (Ger) Bulls 20:04:25 
6Christoph Sauser (Swi) and Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Meerendal Songo Specialized0:07:40 
6Erik Kleinhans (RSA) and Nico Bell (RSA) RECM  
8Robert Mennen (Ger) and Kristian Hynek (Cze) Topeak-Ergon Racing0:07:41 
9Markus Kaufmann (Ger) and Jochen Kaess (Ger) Centurion Vaude0:07:41 
10Stefan Sahm (Fra) and Thomas Diestch (Fra) Bulls 30:11:20 
Women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ariane Kleinhans (Swi) and Annika Langvad (Den) RECM 23:32:59 
2Esther Suss (Swi) and Sally Bigham (GBr) Meerendal0:12:08 
3Milena Landtwing (Swi) and Hielke Elferink (Ned) Meerendal Wheeler0:15:33 
4Jennie Stenerhag (Swe) and Theresa Ralph (RSA) Cape Brewing Company0:31:10 
5Sara Mertens (Bel) and Laura Turpin (Ned) Meerendal Wheeler 20:39:50 
6Yolandi du Toit (RSA) and Leana De Jager (RSA) SasolRacing 20:45:16 
7Tanya Rabie (RSA) and Nicola Walker (RSA) Woolworths In2Food0:49:07 
8Hanlie Booyens (RSA) and Mariske Strauss (RSA) Pragma Orange Monkey0:51:35 
9Ischen Stopforth (RSA) and Yolande de Villiers (RSA) SasolRacing0:56:58 
10Theresa Horn (RSA) and Desiree Loubser (RSA) Khombisa Media1:02:25 
Mixed
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tom Janas (Ger) and Bettina Uhlig (Ger) Sportograf.com - BQ Cycling3:41:29 
2Yannick Lincoln (Mau) and Aurelie Halbwachs (Mau) Synergy0:14:27 
3Gal Tsachor (Isr) and Idit Shub (Isr) Trek Israel0:16:10 
4Eric Wictor (Ned) and Hanneke Boon (Ned) Velozine0:27:59 
5Sophie van Biervliet (Bel) and Jan Stockman (Bel) 't Velootje0:32:46 
6Robert Vogel (NZl) and Amanda Brooks (NZl) Hansgrohe 20:37:39 
7Henning Blaauw (RSA) and Louise Ferreira (RSA) Globeflight0:40:23 
8Vaughn Roux (RSA) and Sunet Geldenhuys (RSA) ENS Mixed0:42:39 
9Sabina Compassi (Swi) and Paul Buhler (Swi) Meerendal Songo Specialized 80:43:21 
10Pablo Rodriguez (Arg) and Lolita van Aardt (RSA) Orphans Africa MTB0:48:38 
Masters
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bart Brentjens (Ned) and Abraao Azevedo (Bra) Betch.nl Superior Meerendal3:28:25 
2Shan Wilson (RSA) and Adrian Enthoven (RSA) Definitive Bikes0:01:02 
3Warren Squires (Zim) and Nic White (RSA) Absa masters0:03:31 
4Richard Lurie (RSA) and Leendert Lorenzen (RSA) Eurocasa0:12:57 
5Derek Wilson (GBr) and Dean Camier (GBr) Motorhouse0:14:30 
6Heinz Posch (Swi) and Andreas Guignard (Swi) Meerendal Songo Specialized 130:15:50 
7Andy Davies (GBr) and Marius Nel (RSA) Pragma BikePlus0:16:04 
8Igna de Villiers (RSA) and Pierre Griffioen (RSA) LGE/Midas/DWR0:16:41 
9Robert Enthoven (GBr) and Edward Nicholson (GBr) Nando's0:20:34 
10Helmuth Weich (RSA) and Mannie Haymans (RSA) Mediclinic SUNHeart0:24:51 
Grand Masters
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Barti Bucher (Swi) and Doug Brown (RSA) Meerendal Songo Specialized 43:33:36 
2Eben Espach (RSA) and Corrie Muller (RSA) Absa Grand Masters0:04:18 
3Andrew Mclean (RSA) and Heinz Zoerweg (Aut) Cycle Lab Toyota0:06:07 
4Lieb Loots (RSA) and Izak Visagie (RSA) Pragma Nampak0:17:01 
5Waleed Baker (RSA) and Glen Haw (RSA) Pitstop0:23:38 
6Ivar Tollefsen (Nor) and Tronde Hilde Gutta Boyz0:24:38 
7James Stopforth (RSA) and Peter Stopforth (RSA) MN70:28:24 
8Otta Matousek (Cze) and Ales Kilnar (Cze) IT champions0:39:03 
9William Werthheim (RSA) and Greg Anderson (RSA) NUK Orthodontic0:43:28 
10Thomas Dooley (USA) and Mike Hogan (USA) Kappius / Sir Richards0:44:05 
Africans
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Matthys Beukes (RSA) and Gert Heyns (RSA) Scott Factory Racing3:00:02 
2Erik Kleinhans (RSA) and Nico Bell (RSA) RECM0:07:40 
3Johann Rabie (RSA) and Neil MacDonald (RSA) FedGroup Itec 20:13:50 
4Kevin Evans (RSA) and Max Knox (RSA) FedGroup Itec0:14:14 
5Andrew Hill (RSA) and Charles Keey (RSA) RED-E Blend0:17:09 
6Craig Boyes (RSA) and Lous-Bresler Knipe (RSA) Asrin cycling0:17:53 
7Oliver Munnik (RSA) and Alastair Davies (RSA) Paarl Media Pinners0:18:03 
8Bradley Stroberg (RSA) and Guylin van den Berg (RSA) SOAR0:22:51 
9Dominic Calitz (RSA) and Jurgen Uys (RSA) Paarl Media Young Guns0:23:09 
10Shan Wilson (RSA) and Adrian Enthoven (RSA) Definitive Bikes0:29:25 
Men final general classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Robert Mennen (Ger) and Kristian Hynek (Cze) Topeak-Ergon Racing30:31:59 
2Christoph Sauser (Swi) and Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Meerendal Songo Specialized0:10:23 
3Tim Boehme (Ger) and Simon Stiebjahn (Ger) Bulls 20:13:26 
4Roel Paulissen (Bel) and Riccardo Chiarini (Ita) Torpado Factory0:15:29 
5Nino Schurter (Swi) and Philip Buys (RSA) Scott-Odlo0:16:48 
6Matthys Beukes (RSA) and Gert Heyns (RSA) Scott Factory Racing1:10:53 
7Lukas Fluckiger (Swi) and Martin Fanger (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing1:19:48 
8Erik Kleinhans (RSA) and Nico Bell (RSA) RECM1:33:12 
9Stefan Sahm (Fra) and Thomas Diestch (Fra) Bulls 32:11:58 
10Markus Kaufmann (Ger) and Jochen Kaess (Ger) Centurion Vaude2:24:58 
Women final general classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ariane Kleinhans (Swi) and Annika Langvad (Den) RECM 234:54:54 
2Esther Suss (Swi) and Sally Bigham (GBr) Meerendal0:37:44 
3Jennie Stenerhag (Swe) and Theresa Ralph (RSA) Cape Brewing Company2:40:44 
4Milena Landtwing (Swi) and Hielke Elferink (Ned) Meerendal Wheeler3:18:21 
5Sara Mertens (Bel) and Laura Turpin (Ned) Meerendal Wheeler 24:38:52 
6Ischen Stopforth (RSA) and Yolande de Villiers (RSA) SasolRacing5:54:09 
7Yolandi du Toit (RSA) and Leana De Jager (RSA) SasolRacing 27:07:36 
8Hanlie Booyens (RSA) and Mariske Strauss (RSA) Pragma Orange Monkey7:49:08 
9Tanya Rabie (RSA) and Nicola Walker (RSA) Woolworths In2Food9:02:43 
10Theresa Horn (RSA) and Desiree Loubser (RSA) Khombisa Media10:21:31 
Mixed final general classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Yannick Lincoln (Mau) and Aurelie Halbwachs (Mau) Synergy37:07:20 
2Gal Tsachor (Isr) and Idit Shub (Isr) Trek Israel1:56:17 
3Tom Janas (Ger) and Bettina Uhlig (Ger) Sportograf.com - BQ Cycling2:35:11 
4Sophie van Biervliet (Bel) and Jan Stockman (Bel) 't Velootje4:22:14 
5Nizaam Essa (RSA) and Christina Kollman (Aut) Asrin Cycling4:23:30 
6Pablo Rodriguez (Arg) and Lolita van Aardt (RSA) Orphans Africa MTB4:57:29 
7Eric Wictor (Ned) and Hanneke Boon (Ned) Velozine5:08:14 
8Sabina Compassi (Swi) and Paul Buhler (Swi) Meerendal Songo Specialized 85:19:29 
9Robert Vogel (NZl) and Amanda Brooks (NZl) Hansgrohe 25:40:39 
10Henning Blaauw (RSA) and Louise Ferreira (RSA) Globeflight6:05:40 
Masters final general classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bart Brentjens (Ned) and Abraao Azevedo (Bra) Betch.nl Superior Meerendal33:53:04 
2Shan Wilson (RSA) and Adrian Enthoven (RSA) Definitive Bikes0:19:25 
3Warren Squires (Zim) and Nic White (RSA) Absa masters2:40:57 
4Richard Lurie (RSA) and Leendert Lorenzen (RSA) Eurocasa3:08:11 
5Igna de Villiers (RSA) and Pierre Griffioen (RSA) LGE/Midas/DWR3:53:40 
6Udo Boelts (Ger) and Lothar Leder (Ger) Juwi Fox4:05:48 
7Robert Enthoven (GBr) and Edward Nicholson (GBr) Nando's4:23:09 
8Heinz Posch (Swi) and Andreas Guignard (Swi) Meerendal Songo Specialized 134:41:51 
9Derek Wilson (GBr) and Dean Camier (GBr) Motorhouse4:49:42 
10Andy Davies (GBr) and Marius Nel (RSA) Pragma BikePlus5:01:47 
Grand masters final general classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Andrew Mclean (RSA) and Heinz Zoerweg (Aut) Cycle Lab Toyota33:56:38 
2Barti Bucher (Swi) and Doug Brown (RSA) Meerendal Songo Specialized 40:59:46 
3Eben Espach (RSA) and Corrie Muller (RSA) Absa Grand Masters2:44:57 
4Lieb Loots (RSA) and Izak Visagie (RSA) Pragma Nampak4:10:15 
5Waleed Baker (RSA) and Glen Haw (RSA) Pitstop4:40:20 
6Thomas Dooley (USA) and Mike Hogan (USA) Kappius / Sir Richards6:32:41 
7William Werthheim (RSA) and Greg Anderson (RSA) NUK Orthodontic7:05:18 
8James Stopforth (RSA) and Peter Stopforth (RSA) MN77:18:44 
9Ivar Tollefsen (Nor) and Tronde Hilde Gutta Boyz7:33:31 
10Tomas Pribyl (Cze) and Jaroslav Send (Cze) Author Masters8:19:05 
Africans final general classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Matthys Beukes (RSA) and Gert Heyns (RSA) Scott Factory Racing31:42:52 
2Erik Kleinhans (RSA) and Nico Bell (RSA) RECM0:22:19 
3Andrew Hill (RSA) and Charles Keey (RSA) RED-E Blend1:16:45 
4Craig Boyes (RSA) and Lous-Bresler Knipe (RSA) Asrin cycling2:04:01 
5Kevin Evans (RSA) and Max Knox (RSA) FedGroup Itec2:20:52 
6Shan Wilson (RSA) and Adrian Enthoven (RSA) Definitive Bikes2:29:37 
7Dominic Calitz (RSA) and Jurgen Uys (RSA) Paarl Media Young Guns2:59:42 
8Johann Rabie (RSA) and Neil MacDonald (RSA) FedGroup Itec 23:11:05 
9Oliver Munnik (RSA) and Alastair Davies (RSA) Paarl Media Pinners3:14:30 
10Bradley Stroberg (RSA) and Guylin van den Berg (RSA) SOAR3:33:35 

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