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Cape Epic - S2
South Africa, March 24-31, 2007
Stage 3 - March 26: Oudtshoorn - Ladismith, 128km
Slick move gives Cannondale Vredestein second victory
In a move dripping with irony, the Cannondale Vredestein 1 team of Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang used an eight kilometre section of tar road to drop its nearest rivals and went on to win Stage 3. The pair's second consecutive stage victory extends their overall lead in the 2007 Absa Cape Epic to nearly seven minutes.
With 40 kilometres remaining on the 128km leg from Oudtshoorn to Ladismith, two teams led the field onto the tarred section and it was here that Paulissen and Fuglsang gave the slip to Team Bulls, the German pairing of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm. The Cannondale Vredestein 1 pair continued strongly, extending their lead to clock a quick 4:56.08, more than three minutes ahead of Platt and Sahm, who finished in 04:59.55.
World marathon champion, Ralph Naf and his Multivan Merida 1 teammate, Jose Hermida, pulled off an incredible recovery to finish third. Hampered by early mechanical problems, the pair were 10 minutes down in 14th place at the summit of the climb at the 45 kilometre mark, but chased most of their rivals down by the finish and were rewarded by moving into third on the General Classification.
Dropping out of third overall was former Olympic champion, Bart Brentjens and his Dutch compatriot Rudi van Houts of Team Dolphin, who finished fifth on the stage.
The two Raleigh MTN Energade teams continued to fly the South African flag by finishing together in ninth and 10th places. Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart were first home in 05:18:52, maintaining their seventh place overall and retaining the Absa African Team leader's jersey. Mannie Heymans and Melt Swanepoel clocked 05:18:53 and dropped down one place to ninth in the GC.
"We kept it really steady today and it seemed pay off," said Stewart. "We were actually closing down [on] the three teams ahead of us quite quickly towards the finish, which was encouraging. It's good to feel so in control in the final kilometres of a stage.
"Both our teams stuck together from the first water point onwards," he added. "Melt actually crashed early on and Kevin was suffering a bit from a bad stomach so Mannie and I did a fair bit of the pacing today."
In the women's race, Duravit's Anke Erlank and Yolande de Villiers maintained their perfect record to win a third consecutive stage and extend their overall women's lead even further. Meanwhilein the Mixed category, Yolande Speedy and Paul Cordes on Team IMC Mongoose secured a third stage victory and 20th place outright on the day, in the process increasing their category lead to 20 minutes.
There was a change in the hotly-contested masters category as winners of the first two stages, Andrew McLean and Damian Booth (Cycle Lab), fell victim to a puncture with 50km to go and were unable to make up their time loss to nearest rivals, the Absa Masters pair of Linus van Onselen and Doug Brown. The Absa Masters pair won the stage from McLean and Booth by over six minutes. The latter still however maintain an eight-minute lead in the masters general classification standings.
Stage three featured two gruelling climbs, the first, Fielie's Folly, at 42 kilometres with an average gradient of 14 per cent. The second at 70km, a three kilometre ascent up stony jeep track, known as the Calitzdorp Crusher. All the leading riders walked at various sections on the second climb except 2004 Cape Epic winner Mannie Heymans on Raleigh MTN Energade 2 and Alban Lakata, the Austrian on the Trek Volkswagen team.
"The uphills were very rocky and tricky but I'm one of the few pros that still rides with a granny gear chainring so I was able to keep going when others couldn't," said Heymans. "It's really about keeping traction and maintaining a steady rhythm from the bottom to the top."
Tomorrow's Stage 4 is another long haul of 121 kilometres from Ladismith to Barrydale, but is far less mountainous than the first three stages. There is also very little in the way of technical terrain which the riders, and their mechanics, will no doubt appreciate.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Cape Epic
Images by Frank Bodenmuller/PhotoSport International
Elite men 1 Roel Paulissen (Bel)/Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Cannondale Vredestein 1 4.56.08 2 Karl Platt (Ger)/Stefan Sahm (Ger) Team Bulls 3.47 3 Ralf Naf (Sui)/Jose Hermida (Esp) Multivan Merida 1 9.00 4 Alban Lakata (Aut)/Peter Roman (Sui) Trek Volkswagen 13.01 5 Bart Brentjens (Ned)/Rudi van Houts (Ned) Team Dolphin 15.22 6 Johannes Sickmeuller (Ger)/Rene Birkenfeld (Ger) Stevens 20.19 7 Silvio Bundi (Sui)/Gion Manetsch (Sui) Giant Athleticum 8 Thomas Zahnd (Sui)/Sandro Spaeth (Sui) Texner-Stoeckli 20.45 9 Kevin Evans (RSA)/Brandon Stewart (RSA) Raleigh MTN Energade 1 22.44 10 Mannie Heymans (Nam)/Melt Swanepoel (RSA) Raleigh MTN Energade 2 22.45 Elite women 1 Anke Erlank (RSA)/Yolande de Villiers (RSA) Duravit 6.30.57 Masters 1 Linus van Onselen (RSA)/Doug Brown (RSA) ABSA Masters 5.38.48 2 Andrew McLean (RSA)/Damian Booth (RSA) Cycle Lab 6.08 3 Jacques Malan (RSA)/Bobby Sculling (RSA) Miles for Marrow 17.37 Mixed 1 Yolande Speedy (RSA)/Paul Cordes (RSA) IMC Mongoose 5.49.02 2 Ivonne Kraft (Ger)/Nico Pfitzenmaier (Ger) Maloja BTS 7.02 3 Geddan Ruddock (RSA)/Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) ABSA Pro Mixed 16.49 General Classification after Stage 3 Elite men 1 Roel Paulissen (Bel)/Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Cannondale Vredestein 1 13.55.49 2 Karl Platt (Ger)/Stefan Sahm (Ger) Team Bulls 6.57 3 Ralf Naf (Sui)/Jose Hermida (Esp) Multivan Merida 1 24.58 4 Bart Brentjens (Ned)/Rudi van Houts (Ned) Team Dolphin 25.36 5 Alban Lakata (Aut)/Peter Roman (Sui) Trek Volkswagen 40.50 6 Thomas Zahnd (Sui)/Sandro Spaeth (Sui) Texner-Stoeckli 53.47 7 Kevin Evans (RSA)/Brandon Stewart (RSA) Raleigh MTN Energade 1 1.02.48 8 Silvio Bundi (Sui)/Gion Manetsch (Sui) Giant Athleticum 1.04.52 9 Mannie Heymans (Nam)/Melt Swanepoel (RSA) Raleigh MTN Energade 2 1.06.13 10 Johannes Sickmeuller (Ger)/Rene Birkenfeld (Ger) Stevens 1.09.54 Elite women 1 Anke Erlank (RSA)/Yolande de Villiers (RSA) Duravit 17.25.59 Masters 1 Andrew McLean (RSA)/Damian Booth (RSA) Cycle Lab 16.11.31 2 Linus van Onselen (RSA)/Doug Brown (RSA) ABSA Masters 8.25 3 M.C. Franken (RSA)/Fred Coleske (RSA) Red Mongoose 33.05 Mixed 1 Yolande Speedy (RSA)/Paul Cordes (RSA) IMC Mongoose 16.29.09 2 Ivonne Kraft (Ger)/Nico Pfitzenmaier (Ger) Maloja BTS 20.11 3 Geddan Ruddock (RSA)/Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) ABSA Pro Mixed 46.01