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Cape Epic - S2
South Africa, March 24-31, 2007
Stage 6 - March 29': Montagu - Villiersdorp, 111km
Cannondale-Vredestein 1 back on top
Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fugslang of Cannondale-Vredestein 1 inched back into the overall leaders' spot by winning the sixth stage of the Absa Cape Epic, with a stage time of 3:46.34. They once again hold the coveted top overall spot with a mere 11 seconds separating them and fierce competitors German Team Bulls.
"This is such a crazy race," said Fuglsang. "It is so highly competitive that each day is a non stop battle. You have to fight for every second and use each and every opportunity to push away.
"On the other hand that's what makes it so interesting and exciting," he added. "We are all, more or less, of equal strength. And of course, everyone is tired. Roel is pulling me a lot and Karl is pulling Stefan a lot. And when one team puts the hammer down, the other has to follow."
With five of the race's eight stages already run and one, the duo decided to attack today, knowing that every second will count in the final wash-up.
"Today we decided to attack on all the climbs. We knew, from previous days, that we are the strongest team uphill and that we have a big advantage on the rocky terrain with our full suspension bikes," explained Fuglsang. "On each climb we gained about 40 to 50 seconds today. Bart was closest to us on the rocky climb. Rudi was falling behind and that was lucky for us because they could have caught us."
Today's podium saw another new team step on to the podium. Last year's champion Silvio Bundi and his teammate Gion Manetsch came in third today in 3:51.7.
"We didn't have such a good start into this year's Absa Cape Epic," admitted Silvio. "After the first two days we knew that we would not play a role in winning the overall race: we had a lot of punctures and mechanical problems.
"Yesterday we decided to have a rest day - if you could call it a rest day when you sit five hours in the saddle," he added. "But we took it easy and simply enjoyed the stage. Last night we felt much better so we decided to try for the podium on the last three days. It worked. Gion had great legs [today]. Mine were not that good, but good enough to keep up with him."
Taste of Heaven
There were no surprises in the masters and ladies races today, with Andrew Mclean and Damian Booth of Cycle Lab taking the masters stage by two minutes to maintain their overall lead. "A lot of people told us that we wouldn't be able to beat Linus van Onselen and Doug Brown" said Mclean. "But we believed we would. And we were right. The only time Linus and Doug got away from us was when we got a puncture."
Now we hope to maintain our lead all the way to the finish," added a confident Mclean. "But you never know - anything can happen in these kinds of races. What is great though, is that we have a good fight going on in the Masters category. Apart from the Men's, ours is the closest race, which makes every victory even sweeter. I enjoy proving that 'roadies' - as mountain bikers like to call us - can ride off-road, too."
The Absa Cape Epic is Mclean's first big mountain bike race. In fact, the South African has only owned a mountain bike for three months.
"When my mates told me I must do the Absa Cape Epic, they said it is like a road race on dirt roads," said Mclean. "Well, that is certainly not true and there is quite a lot of carrying, pushing and walking involved which I didn't expect."
Mclean, a presenter of Supersport's Super Cycling, offered some advice for other Cape Epic virgins: "You must build up a lot f endurance for this race and you need mental toughness as much as physical strength."
South African pair Yolande de Villiers and Anke Erlank won yet another stage for Team Duravit in the women's category, putting them in the strongest position for an overall victory, their time gap being 3 hours and 20 minutes.
"I simply cannot get over how people can put themselves through this race, finish after ten hours and then still have to feed themselves, wash their clothes, fix their bikes and so on," commented Erlank. "In fact, having your bike fixed every day gets really expensive for an average guy taking part, but that's the nature of this race. Everything is epic. It is a brag race. You want to brag that you have been there, done that and got the T-shirt.
"The amateurs are the guys that make it," she added. "And in a way I benefit from them because they all buy their equipment and that's why I have sponsors who can equip me.
Germans Ivonne Kraft and Nico Pfitzenmaier claim first stage win
The mixed classification saw some changes with Olympian Ivonne Kraft and Nico Pfitzenmaier of Team Maloja-BTS Time for Travel taking the stage victory ahead of Team IMC/Mongoose who have managed to hold onto their overall lead by 26 minutes.
"We finally made it in our third attempt," said a delighted Pfitzenmaier. "For the past two days we built up a good lead and then we had a nasty puncture. On stage four, Ivonne hit a wire that ripped her rear wheel, and yesterday a sharp stone cut her tyre at a river crossing.
"Today there were no defects, but Ivonne was feeling a bit sick at the start of the race," he added. "She had a sore throat so we decided not to push too hard but to ride at our own pace instead. We still caught a good group up front although we struggled a bit in the flat stretches."
Despite the epic day, Pfitzenmaier, a former ironman, found solace in the surrounds on today's 111 kilometre stage.
"The cheering children along the route are really motivating," he noted. "They get so excited when you touch their hands. Seeing their resplendent eyes gives you so much energy that you forget about your pain and strain. Another energy booster is the stunning scenery. I really enjoyed today's stage. I rode ahead a few times in order to take pictures. After all, you want to cherish these memories for a lifetime."
South Africans come in strong
Today, riders covered 111 kilometres of lush Robertson farmland, rolling hills, fun descents and torturous hike-a-bike sections on their way from Montagu to Villiersdorp, the total climb for the day adding up to 1565 metres. Twelve kilometres into the race, the South African Teams, Raleigh MTN Energade 1 and 2, adidas/William Simpson and Exel/Specialized attacked on the transition from the tar to the sand road.
"This was not planned," noted Shan Wilson. "I looked at Mannie Heymans and I instantly felt that he was planning to break away. So I said to Jacque, 'let's go with Mannie'. In the end there were four South African teams breaking away. Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart were the first we lost as they had a flat tyre. Among the six of us, we shared the work until the second water point when we approached the climb on the tar road. We had achieved a four and a half minute gap. In the hike-a-bike section, our group was broken up.
"The Europeans are much better runners so Roel and Jakob passed us right then and there," he added. "Next we were caught by the Bulls Team and finally, at the third water point, I had to tighten my right cleat and Silvio and Gion passed us. Team Dolphin attacked us on the last tar section before they finished sixteen seconds ahead of us in fourth place. I was a little disappointed but I was also happy to finish in the top five of such a world class field."
Stage seven will see riders facing two thirds of the Groenlandberg monster climb before enjoying a long stretch of rolling jeep track through natural fynbos. A gradual climb takes the riders up and over the mountain before they get to enjoy a roller coaster descent into the Lebanon forest area where fire roads and cool shady forests await. After this all-too-short forest section, a quick dip under the N2 ends with breathtaking panoramic ocean views as riders descend into the sleepy coastal town of Kleinmond.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Frank Bodenmuller/PhotoSport International
Men 1 Roel Paulissen (Bel) / Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Cannondale-Vredestein 1 3.46.35 2 Karl Platt (Ger) / Stefan Sahm (Ger) Team Bulls 1.31 3 Silvio Bundi (Swi) / Gion Manetsch (Swi) Giant/Athleticum 4.33 4 Bart Brentjens (Ned) / Rudi van Houts (Ned) Dolphin Mountainbike Team 6.21 5 Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) Team Adidas/William Simpson/Ep 6.37 6 Thomas Zahnd (Swi) / Sandro Spaeth (Swi) Team Texner-Stoeckli 7.08 7 Mannie Heymans (Nam) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) RALEIGH MTN ENERGADE 2 8.12 8 Johannes Sickmueller (Ger) / René Birkenfeld (Ger) Stevens 10.03 9 Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) RALEIGH MTN ENERGADE 1 13.10 10 Oliver Munnick (RSA) / Max Knox (RSA) ADIDAS/WILLIAM SIMPSON 14.30 Women 1 Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolandè De Villiers (RSA) DURAVIT 4.21.34 2 Myriam Saugy (Swi) / Fabienne Heinzmann (Swi) Texner BMC Thoemus 26.15 3 Kerstin Brachtendorf (Ger) / Daniele Troesch (Fra) ADIDAS FIAT Rotwild 44.10 4 Kristine Noergaard (Den) / Anna-Sofie Noergaard (Den) CUBE WLS TEAM 46.00 5 Liesbet Kristafor (RSA) / Leanne Brown-Waterson (RSA) K-Way 1.02.07 6 Di Thomas (RSA) / Linzi Fredman (RSA) Day Trippers 1.43.53 7 Jaclynn Derosier (USA) / Sharon Mcdowell-Larsen (USA) Snow Queens 1.51.46 8 Ruth Kirchmann (RSA) / Lorna Mclaren (RSA) Angel Wings 2.05.09 9 Lecinda Uys (RSA) / Mitzi Knipe (RSA) Prolong 2.16.47 10 Lynley Baker (NZl) / Katherine Heatley (NZl) Maiden New Zealand 2.26.58 Masters 1 Andrew Mclean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) Cycle lab 4.16.09 2 Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) ABSA Masters 1.58 3 Tony Conlon (RSA) / Lieb Loots (RSA) Marsilio Projects 3.10 4 M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) Red Mongoose 4.05 5 Corrie Muller (RSA) / Ergee Du Toit (RSA) SAND 7.18 6 Jacques Malan (RSA) / Schuiling Bobby (RSA) MILES FOR MARROW 7.37 7 Mads Bodker (Den) / Henrik Cohen (Den) Nordic Sportscenter 7.58 8 Andre Viljoen (RSA) / Guy Pike (RSA) Team Checkers 10.22 9 Nick Bester (RSA) / Bryan Strauss (RSA) HARMONY 19.48 10 Ennis Venter (RSA) / Andrew Johan Cillie (RSA) GOSSOUW,HARDING&WATERLOO 29.51 Mixed 1 Ivonne Kraft (Ger) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (Ger) Maloja-BTS Time for Travel 4.24.23 2 Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) IMC/Mongoose 4.48 3 Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann Mckirdy (Can) ABSA PRO MIXED 6.21 4 Virginie Souchon (Fra) / Julien Sauvigné (Fra) CMT 11.03 5 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Jurie Barnard (RSA) Pezula 16.50 6 Fourie Kotze (RSA) / Jeannie Bomford (RSA) adidas 21.26 7 Greg Minnaar (RSA) / Hannele Steyn-Kotze (RSA) adidas 24.20 8 Nicole Haas (Swi) / Peter Kunz (Swi) Los Pezos 27.07 9 Peter Stopforth (RSA) / Ischen Stopforth (RSA) MARSILIO PROJECTS MIXED 27.32 10 Brian Tear (GBr) / Martine Verweij (GBr) MI Racing/Double Dutch 35.30 General Classification after stage 6 Men 1 Roel Paulissen (Bel) / Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Cannondale-Vredestein 1 25.40.30 2 Karl Platt (Ger) / Stefan Sahm (Ger) Team Bulls 0.11 3 Bart Brentjens (Ned) / Rudi van Houts (Ned) Dolphin Mountainbike Team 43.51 4 Alban Lakata (Aut) / Roman Peter (Swi) Trek Volkswagen Racing 1.05.22 5 Thomas Zahnd (Swi) / Sandro Spaeth (Swi) Team Texner-Stoeckli 1.06.30 6 Johannes Sickmueller (Ger) / René Birkenfeld (Ger) Stevens 1.25.42 7 Kevin Evans (RSA) / Brandon Stewart (RSA) RALEIGH MTN ENERGADE 1 1.32.30 8 Mannie Heymans (Nam) / Melt Swanepoel (RSA) RALEIGH MTN ENERGADE 2 1.38.59 9 Ralph Naef (Swi) / Jose Hermida (Spa) Multivan Merida Biking Team 1 1.43.19 10 Shan Wilson (RSA) / Jacques Rossouw (RSA) Team Adidas/William Simpson/Ep 1.56.37 Women 1 Anke Erlank (RSA) / Yolandè De Villiers (RSA) DURAVIT 30.53.25 2 Myriam Saugy (Swi) / Fabienne Heinzmann (Swi) Texner BMC Thoemus 3.19.38 3 Kerstin Brachtendorf (Ger) / Daniele Troesch (Fra) ADIDAS FIAT Rotwild 3.47.10 4 Kristine Noergaard (Den) / Anna-Sofie Noergaard (Den) CUBE WLS TEAM 4.25.02 5 Liesbet Kristafor (RSA) / Leanne Brown-Waterson (RSA) K-Way 6.49.25 6 Di Thomas (RSA) / Linzi Fredman (RSA) Day Trippers 11.13.01 7 Jaclynn Derosier (USA) / Sharon Mcdowell-Larsen (USA) Snow Queens 12.44.44 8 Lecinda Uys (RSA) / Mitzi Knipe (RSA) Prolong 13.36.09 9 Ruth Kirchmann (RSA) / Lorna Mclaren (RSA) Angel Wings 14.49.45 10 Estie Du Plessis (RSA) / Louiza Swartz (RSA) Flabulous females 16.01.36 Masters 1 Andrew Mclean (RSA) / Damian Booth (RSA) Cycle lab 29.16.55 2 Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) ABSA Masters 22.42 3 M.C. Franken (RSA) / Fred Coleske (RSA) Red Mongoose 51.50 4 Corrie Muller (RSA) / Ergee Du Toit (RSA) SAND 1.06.33 5 Jacques Malan (RSA) / Schuiling Bobby (RSA) MILES FOR MARROW 1.28.07 6 Mads Bodker (Den) / Henrik Cohen (Den) Nordic Sportscenter 1.49.35 7 Tony Conlon (RSA) / Lieb Loots (RSA) Marsilio Projects 1.49.56 8 Andre Viljoen (RSA) / Guy Pike (RSA) Team Checkers 2.13.16 9 Nick Bester (RSA) / Bryan Strauss (RSA) HARMONY 2.46.24 10 Ennis Venter (RSA) / Andrew Johan Cillie (RSA) GOSSOUW,HARDING&WATERLOO 3.29.56 Mixed 1 Yolande Speedy (RSA) / Paul Cordes (RSA) IMC/Mongoose 30.09.19 2 Ivonne Kraft (Ger) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (Ger) Maloja-BTS Time for Travel 26.20 3 Geddan Ruddock (RSA) / Jean Ann Mckirdy (Can) ABSA PRO MIXED 56.51 4 Peter Stopforth (RSA) / Ischen Stopforth (RSA) MARSILIO PROJECTS MIXED 2.09.22 5 Virginie Souchon (Fra) / Julien Sauvigné (Fra) CMT 3.06.49 6 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Jurie Barnard (RSA) Pezula 3.28.18 7 Fourie Kotze (RSA) / Jeannie Bomford (RSA) adidas 3.59.26 8 Greg Minnaar (RSA) / Hannele Steyn-Kotze (RSA) adidas 4.29.30 9 Nicole Haas (Swi) / Peter Kunz (Swi) Los Pezos 4.39.02 10 Andreas Mühlbacher (Aut) / Anita Waiss (Aut) Peak Vienna 4.43.57