South Africans top Cape Epic prologue

Marino Kobayashi (Nippo-Vini Fantini)

Marino Kobayashi (Nippo-Vini Fantini) (Image credit: Nippo-Vini Fantini)

South African riders became the first ever participants from the home country of the Cape Epic to wear the race leaders' jerseys when Kevin Evans and David George took victory in the prologue on Friday. The pair, riding as Team MTN Energade 1 scorched the 17 kilometre prologue course in Knysna, setting a 31'04" mark nearly one minute faster than the runner-up Cannondale Vredestein team of Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang. Defending champions, Stefan Sahm and Karl Platt were third.

"We did a good job today," said the typically modest Evans, struggling to contain a virtually permanent grin. "We came to this race hoping to win a stage and maybe wear the leader's jersey and we've accomplished that on the first day."

Evans says that thanks to the meticulous preparation of George, a five-time South African time trial champion and former Under-23 world championships bronze medallist, the pair were already at an advantage even before the start.

"Dave insisted we wear skinsuits and that we warm up on stationary rollers. It's small details like this that we've been incorporating into our training over the past four months that have got us to the top of the podium today."

"Some of the guys looked a bit surprised to see us catch them, but we had a faultless ride and are in the best shape of our lives," beamed Evans, who admitted that he and George would start Saturday's second stage with the pressure of defending the lead, but said it wasn't a bad thing.

"To beat us, the other teams have to ride away from us. And having placed all our training emphasis on endurance and climbing, rather than the high intensity required on the prologue stage, we feel confident we can stay with them."

In the women's race, Cyclingnews diarists, Team Trek – VW WSD's Susan Haywood and Jennifer Smith were first to go off, and set a time of 42'51", and no other team could match the American/Kiwi pair. "This prologue was a great way to start the stage race," said Haywood. "It felt good to work our legs after the long trip to South Africa. Since we are used to cross country races, the short and intense racing today was something that suited us, especially since we could race in a safe environment with few riders around us. We are more worried about what’s laying ahead."

The second place team Rocky Mountain were 38.5 seconds back, with Canadian Alison Sydor and Finland's Pia Sundstedt suffering from bad luck with a flat tyre in the first few kilometres. "We learned our first lesson today," said Sydor. "Two hands are faster fixing a tyre than four. In fact, we really learned a lot about each other and the prologue was a great way of getting used to your partner and working in a team rather than alone. The flat tyre gave us confidence, because we learned that we can work well together under pressure."

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