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Cape Epic - S2
South Africa, March 24-31, 2007
Stage 4 - March 27: Ladismith - Barrydale, 121km
South Africans Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart of Team Raleigh MTN Energade 1 inspired a day of drama at the 2007 Absa Cape Epic on Tuesday when they attacked the field after just 15km and went in search of a coveted stage win in their home country.
But their podium hopes were crushed by Swiss world marathon champion Ralf Naf and his Spanish Multivan Merida teammate, Jose Hermida, who started the chase, caught, and passed the two South Africans. The Multivan Merida team went on to claim their first stage win by completing the 121km fourth stage from Ladismith to Barrydale in four hours, seven minutes, and 52 seconds.
Crossing the finish line in second place, less than 10 seconds later was Team Bulls' Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, both from Germany, whose time of 4:08:01 was more than three-and-a-half minutes quicker than overall race leaders, the Cannondale Vredestein 1 pair of Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang, who finished third in 04:11:33.
Paulissen and Fuglsang, winners of the previous two stages were plagued by bad luck with three punctures and a torn tyre delaying their progress. They chased hard though, but lost half of their seven-minute-plus lead over Platt and Sahm, who now trail by just three minutes and 24 seconds. The ill fate that befell of Cannondale Vredestein 1 inadvertently reinstated some suspense into a race that appeared to be leaning heavily in their direction even before halfway through in the eight-day event.
In a courageous display of defiance, Evans and Stewart, lying seventh overall at the start of the stage, built up a three-minute lead on the field at one point, but it was in the Leopard Rock Game Reserve before the halfway point where Naf and Hermida decided to begin the chase in earnest. The only riders able to stay with them were Platt and Sahm and the newly paired multiple world cup champion Swiss Christoph Sauser and top South African professional road rider, 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, David George. The original partners of both riders were ill and withdrew after Stage 3. Race rules allow remaining riders to pair up with a new partner, but they are not permitted to claim stage podium places or influence the racing in any way. For example, they're not permitted to contribute to the pace making or provide mechanical assistance to others.
Evans and Stewart were eventually caught at 95km and a pat on the back from the world champion as he powered past will have given them some measure of satisfaction. They soldiered on steadily in the hopes of claiming the final podium spot, but could only watch helplessly as they were passed by Paulissen and Fuglsang with just 5km remaining.
"After three days of conservative riding, we decided to take the racing to the 'okes' today," said a weary, but upbeat Stewart, who won a stage in similar fashion last year.
"We obviously had no help up front so had to ride into the wind alone and that eventually takes it out of you. We had to show some fighting South African spirit and give it our best shot, but well know tomorrow how much of our 'pie' we ate today."A slight rise in the road one kilometre from the finish was all Naf and Hermida needed to get a gap on Platt and Sahm who seemed more interested in the time gains they were making over Cannondale Vredestein 1 than contesting the stage win.
Evans and Stewart finished fourth in 4:12:57 and increased their lead in the Absa African team competition over their mates, Mannie Heymans and Melt Swanepoel of Raleigh MTN Energade 2, who were eighth on the stage in 04:20:59.
After the stage, the top seven places in the General Classification remained unchanged, but dropping out courtesy of a tough fourth stage was Giant Athleticum, the Swiss duo of Silvio Bundi and Gion Manetsch, who slipped from eighth to 12th. Moving into eighth place was the steadily-improving all-German Stevens team of Johannes Sickmeuller and Rene Birkenfeld, while a third South African team, Adidas William Simpson's Shan Wilson and Jacques Rossouw, moved up to 10th.
However by the start of the fifth stage, there may be some changes at the top of the GC. The fifth placed Trek Volkswagen pair of Alban Lakata and Peter Roman were awaiting a decision from the race commissaries with regard to a time penalty for not riding together. The pair were allegedly more than the permitted two minutes apart at both checkpoints en route and could face a one-hour penalty. The fourth-placed Dutch Team Dolphin duo of Bart Brentjens and Rudi van Houts may also be doubtful starters on Wednesday as Van Houts is suffering with stomach illness.
The Duravit team of Anke Erlank and Yolande de Villiers claimed their fourth successive stage win on Wednesday to extend their lead in the women's race, while the IMC Mongoose pair of Yolande Speedy and Paul Cordes kept their Mixed title hopes firmly on track with their fourth stage victory.
The Master's category produced more new faces on top of the podium in the form of the Danish team of Mads Bodker and Henrik Cohen (Nordic Sportcenter). Cycle Lab's Andrew McLean and Damian Booth were second but retained their category lead and are placed an impressive 16th overall.
At 101km, Stage 5 from Barrydale to Montagu is relatively short compared to the first four stages. But two tough climbs await the riders, the first at 28km, a 5km singletrack ascent that climbs 345m and the second at 72km, a 7km climb that rises 430m.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Cape Epic
Images by Frank Bodenmuller/PhotoSport International
Images by Gallo Images
Men 1 Ralf Naf (Swi) / Jose Hermida (Spa) Multivan Merida 1 4.07.52 2 Karl Platt (Ger) / Stefan Sahm (Ger) Team Bulls 0.09 3 Roel Paulissen (Bel) / Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Cannondale Vredestein 1 3.41 4 Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) Raleigh MTN Energade 1 5.05 5 Johannes Sickmeuller (Ger) / Rene Birkenfeld (Ger) Stevens 6.57 6 Alban Lakata (Aut) / Peter Roman (Swi) Trek Volkswagen 9.40 7 Thomas Zahnd (Swi) / Sandro Spaeth (Swi) Texner-Stoeckli 9.41 8 n Raleigh MTN Energade 2 13.07 9 Moritz Milatz (Ger) / Tim Boehme (Ger) Multivan Merida 2 16.55 10 Jonas Vuille (Swi) / Vullioud Phillipe (Swi) Texner BMC Acqiris 17.51 Women 1 Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) Duravit 4.46.01 2 Kristine Noergaard (Den) / Anna-Sofie Noergaard (Den) Cube WLS 27.20 3 Myriam Saugy (Swi) / Fabienne Heinzmann (Swi) Texner BMC Thoemus 29.33 Masters 1 Mads Bodker (Den) / Henrik Cohen (Den) Nordic Sportcenter 4.34.15 2 Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) Cycle Lab 0.14 3 M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) Red Mongoose 5.10 Mixed 1 Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) IMC Mongoose 4.46.32 2 Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) ABSA Pro Mixed 0.46 3 Ivonne Kraft (Ger) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (Ger) Maloja BTS 7.45 General Classification after stage 4 Men 1 Roel Paulissen (Bel) / Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Cannondale Vredestein 1 18.07.23 2 Karl Platt (Ger) / Stefan Sahm (Ger) Team Bulls 3.24 3 Ralf Naf (Swi) / Jose Hermida (Spa) Multivan Merida 1 21.16 4 Bart Brentjens (Ned) / Rudi van Houts (Ned) Team Dolphin 42.29 5 Alban Lakata (Aut) / Peter Roman (Swi) Trek Volkswagen 46.48 6 Thomas Zahnd (Swi) / Sandro Spaeth (Swi) Texner-Stoeckli 59.46 7 Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) Raleigh MTN Energade 1 1.04.12 8 Johannes Sickmeuller (Ger) / Rene Birkenfeld (Ger) Stevens 1.13.09 9 Mannie Heymans (Nam) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) Raleigh MTN Energade 2 1.15.39 10 Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) Adidas William Simpson 1.35.04 Women 1 Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) Duravit 22.12.01 2 Myriam Saugy (Swi) / Fabienne Heinzmann (Swi) Texner BMC Thoemus 2.22.39 3 Kristine Noergaard (Den) / Anna-Sofie Noergaard (Den) Cube WLS 2.53.13 Masters 1 Andrew McLean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) Cycle Lab 20.46.01 2 Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) ABSA Masters 20.44 3 M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) Red Mongoose 38.00 Mixed 1 Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) IMC Mongoose 21.15.41 2 Ivonne Kraft (Ger) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (Ger) Maloja BTS 27.56 3 Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann McKirdy (RSA) ABSA Pro Mixed 46.48 Full results coming!