Team FedGroup Itec's Brandon Stewart and Konny Looser lost all but eight seconds of their more-than-five-minute overnight lead, while Asrin Cycling's James Reid and Jens Schuermans won a second successive stage on a dramatic day 4 of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek in South Africa on Wednesday.
Looser crashed heavily at 27km into the 107km stage from Price Albert to De Rust, damaging his rear wheel and his suspension fork in the process. He also sustained hip, knee and ankle injuries. Team FedGroup's rivals charged on in an effort to take back time on the race leaders, who managed to narrowly retain the race lead with three stages remaining.
Reid and Schuermans, winners of the event's mountaintop finish queen stage on Tuesday, delivered a snappy final dash from a lead bunch of nine to secure the stage victory in a time of 3:57:04. Contego Giant Factory Racing's Gert Heyns and Louis Bresler Knipe finished second with Team RE:CM's Waylon Woolcock and Erik Kleinhans taking third.
Losing time steadily despite a courageous 80km chase, Stewart and Looser managed to cross the line in eighth, 5:16 down, maintaining their yellow jersey grasp by just eight seconds over Woolcock and Kleinhans. Reid and Schuermans are still third overall 8:34 back.
Team RE:CM Davinci's Ariane Kleinhans and Annika Langvad extended their lead in the women's race, by winning the stage - their fourth in succession - by over 12 minutes, confirming their utter dominance of the event.
They now lead stage 3 runners-up Wheeler BMC's Esther Suss and Jane Nuessli by 41:32, with Biogen SA's Robyn de Groot and Ischen Stopforth in third another half an hour behind.
"I'm disappointed that our rivals took advantage of our misfortune today, especially so early in the stage. But Konny showed some true grit to fight through the pain with a damaged bike and we live to fight another day in yellow. That was an unexpectedly tough day out," said Stewart.
"I hit a rock that a rider in front of me must have dislodged and went over the handlebars. I fell really hard on my left side but with the other teams racing on, I had no time to worry about injuries. My wheel would have taken a long time to repair and luckily a German team saw our situation and gave us one of their back wheels to help us get going again," said Looser, who sustained serious bruising in the fall.
The first mixed team home on Wednesday was Cube Nutswerk MTB's Birgit Lavrijssen and Marco Minnaard, who managed to displace overnight leaders and stage runners-up, Asrin Cycling 3's Jennie Stenerhag and Craig Gerber, from the top of the general classification.
In the veteran's division, Klein Karoo Vets' Wynand Mulder and Gerrie Beukes claimed their first stage win and moved from third to second in the overall race. They beat overall leaders, Cube Nutswerk 2's Micha de Vries and Rik van den Hanenberg by 3:41, but trail the Dutchmen by more than an hour in the general classification.
The masters' category saw the continued dominance of Wilde 3's Izak Visagie and Lieb Loots with their fourth successive stage win, which saw them stretch their overall lead to one hour and 23 minutes over Stone Hammer's Malcolm Dods and Wizner Zbigniew.
Adriaan Louw claimed the solo men's division stage win on Wednesday and increased his overall lead, while Bettina Uhlig won the solo women's stage, closing down Kate Slegrova's overall lead to just over three minutes.
At 70km, Thursday's stage 4 from De Rust to Herold will be a short haul, but with 1950 metres of ascent and sections of very rough terrain through the Kammanassie Mountains, it's extremely tough.
Brief Results (Full results not available at time of posting)
Men stage 3
|1||Asrin Cycling - James Reid (RSA) & Jens Scheurmans (Bel)||3:57:04|| |
|2||Contego Giant Factory Racing - Gert Heyns (RSA) & Louis Bresler Knipe (RSA)||0:00:01|| |
|3||RE:CM - Waylon Woolcock (RSA) & Erik Kleinhans (RSA)||0:00:02|| |
|4||Scott Factory Racing - Philip Buys (RSA) & Matthys Beukes (RSA)||0:00:07|| |
|5||Westvaal Bells Cycling - Nico Bell (RSA) & Gawie Combrinck (RSA)||0:00:12|| |
Women stage 3
|1||RE:CM Davinci - Ariane Kleinhans (Swi) & Annika Langvad (Den)||4:26:08|| |
|2||Wheeler - BMC - Jane Neussli (GBr) & Esther Suss (Swi)||0:12:22|| |
|3||Klein Karoo Chicks - Yolande de Villiers (RSA) & Yolande Speedy (RSA)||0:12:42|| |
Mixed stage 3
|1||Cube NutSwerk MTB - Birgit Lavrijssen (Ned) & Marco Minnaard||4:31:29|| |
|2||Asrin Cycling 2 - Nizaam Esa (RSA) & Catherine Williamson (GBr)||0:03:14|| |
|3||Asrin Cycling 3 - Jennie Stenerhag (Swe) & Craig Gerber||0:04:23|| |
Veteran stage 3
|1||Klein Karoo Vets - Wynand Mulder (RSA) & Gerrie Beukes (RSA)||4:17:07|| |
|2||Cube NutSwerk 2 - Micha de Vries (Ned) & Rik Van Den Hanenberg (Ned)||0:03:41|| |
|3||Cannondale Blend Vets - Martin Epstein (RSA) & Stefano Madies (RSA)||0:14:52|| |
Masters stage 3
|1||Wilde 3 - Izak Visagie (RSA) & Lieb Loots (RSA)||4:38:53|| |
|2||Bridge Masters 1 - Con Malherbe (RSA) & Greg Anderson (RSA)||0:01:30|| |
|3||Stone Hammer - Malcolm Dods (GBr) & Wizner Zbigniew (Swe)||0:03:40|| |
Amateurs stage 3
|1||Klein Karoo Express - Kobus Barnard (RSA) & Cornelius Muller (RSA)||4:22:33|| |
|2||Scott Saffa Power - George Nel (RSA) & Franso Steyn (RSA)||0:05:56|| |
|3||Contego Giant 2 - Sakkie Hannekom (RSA) & Hannes Hannekom (RSA)||0:07:08|| |
Solo men stage 3
|1||Adriaan Louw (RSA)||4:02:21|| |
|2||Craig Boyes (RSA)||0:04:43|| |
|3||Darren Lill (RSA)||0:11:47|| |
Solo women stage 3
|1||Bettina Uhlig (Ger)||4:42:14|| |
|2||Dalene van der Leek (RSA)||0:18:08|| |
|3||Kate Slegrova (RSA)||0:18:14|| |
Men general classification after stage 3
|1||FedGroup Itec - Brandon Stewart (RSA) & Konny Looser (Swi)||12:38:47|| |
|2||RE:CM - Waylon Woolcock (RSA) & Erik Kleinhans (RSA)||0:00:08|| |
|3||Asrin Cycling - James Reid (RSA) & Jens Scheurmans (Bel)||0:08:34|| |
|4||SCOTT Factory Racing - Philip Buys (RSA) & Matthys Beukes (RSA)||0:21:25|| |
|5||Westvaal Bells Cycling - Nico Bell (RSA) & Gawie Combrinck (RSA)||0:32:39|| |
Women general classification after stage 3
|1||RE:CM Davinci - Ariane Kleinhans (Swi) & Annika Langvad (Den)||14:16:33|| |
|2||Wheeler - BMC - Jane Neussli (GBr) & Esther Suss (Swi)||0:41:32|| |
|3||Biogen SA - Ischen Stopforth (RDSA) & Robyn de Groot (RSA)||1:13:20|| |
Mixed general classification after stage 3
|1||Cube NutSwerk MTB - Birgit Lavrijssen (Ned) & Marco Minnaard||15:21:44|| |
|2||Asrin Cycling 3 - Jennie Stenerhag (Swe) & Craig Gerber||0:03:53|| |
|3||Bridge Peptosport - Gerhard Ebersohn (RSA) & Christine Jansen van Rensburg (RSA)||1:24:03|| |
Veteran general classification after stage 3
|1||Cube NutSwerk 2 - Micha de Vries (Ned) & Rik Van Den Hanenberg (Ned)||9:49:20|| |
|2||Cannondale Blend Vets - Martin Epstein (RSA) & Stefano Madies (RSA)||1:12:05|| |
|3||Klein Karoo Vets - Wynand Mulder (RSA) & Gerrie Beukes (RSA)||1:18:14|| |
Masters general classification after stage 3
|1||Wilde 3 - Izak Visagie (RSA) & Lieb Loots (RSA)||10:11:03|| |
|2||Stone Hammer - Malcolm Dodds (RSA) & Wizner Zbigniew (RSA)||1:19:27|| |
|3||Brug Meesters - Charles Nienaber (RSA) & Ergee du Toit (RSA)||1:26:07|| |
Amateur general classification after stage 3
|1||Contego Giant 2 - Sakkie Hannekom (RSA) & Hannes Hannekom (RSA)||14:43:27|| |
|2||Scott Saffa Power - George Nel (RSA) & Franso Steyn (RSA)||0:09:22|| |
|3||Kivada Schorriemorrie - Ninko Doornbos (Ned) & Coen HooGervorst (Ned)||0:56:28|| |
Solo men general classification after stage 3
|1||Adriaan Louw (RSA)||13:22:05|| |
|2||Craig Boyes (RSA)||0:42:52|| |
|3||Tomas Kozak (CZE)||0:54:57|| |
Solo women general classification after stage 3
|1||Kate Slegrova||17:11:17|| |
|2||Bettina Uhlig (Ger)||0:03:16|| |
|3||Dalene van der Leek (RSA)||0:04:43|| |