Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls 1) successfully defended their lead in the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race on day four. The pair took over the lead yesterday, during stage three, giving themselves the yellow leaders' jerseys.
"Yellow is still such a beautiful color - and we would like to keep it a little longer," said a happy Platt before breakfast on Wednesday morning. He and Sahm went on to do just that.
The Bulls' defense of the yellow was not easy during the 88km stage from Ceres to Worcester. It featured 1,640m of climbing with some steep ascents en route.
From the start, eventual stage four winners Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser (Songo-Specialized by DCM) went on the attack to get whatever gap they could on Platt and Sahm, but other Bulls riders, from the second Bulls team, Thomas Diestch and Tim Boehme, lent their services to help the overall leaders.
By the middle of the race, only the leaders and two other teams remained - those of Team Songo-Specialized and those of Team MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon which includes Kevin Evans and Alban Lakata. Everyone else was at least 1:30 back.
Just 10km from the finish line, MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon fell slightly off the pace, leaving Songo-Specialized and the Bulls to fight it out. Stander and Sauser went on to take the win by one minute and 23 seconds.
"That was a hard day. The profile was for cross country specialists, such as the Songo-Specialized team. And Burry and Christoph tried to use it to their advantage," said Sahm. "I think we delivered today though, and I'm happy with the yellow."
"From the start, one attack followed another, but we defended and felt like we could keep going forever. Especially at the beginning, we had Tim and Thom which helped," said Platt.
Thinking of the general classification, Platt added, "We have 6:18 on Songo-Specialized and 8:20 on MTN - Qhubeka Topeak Ergon It sounds like a lot, but it's not at the Cape Epic. So much could still happen, but we'll give everything for the overall win."
Riders will do a time trial on Thursday during stage five.