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Cape Epic - NE

South Africa, April 22-28, 2006

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Race 6 - April 27: Greyton - Hermanus

Teams Stevens Racing and adidas/ WE Cycles/ Bianchi finally succeed

Stage 6 of the Absa Cape Epic from Greyton to the famous whale watching town of Hermanus saw some of the best single track riding of the race so far. The route led across the historic 1820 Riviersonderend Bridge followed by long scenic fynbos sections with plenty of challenging technical riding. The highlight of the day – spectacular views over Hermanus and the Walker Bay – first demanded for hard work. The Epic riders had to climb one of the toughest ascents in the entire race with gradients of up to 25 degrees at certain points which seemed to go on forever. What made the climb even more difficult was the constantly changing terrain ranging from soft sand to lose gravel rocks. Up on top they enjoyed magnificent views before entering a fast and technical jeep track downhill section where riders hit top speeds up to 80 km/h.

Today’s stage saw once again different faces on the top of the podium. After another powerful attempt, team Stevens Racing with Johannes Sickmueller (GER) and Christian Heule (SUI) and Mixed team adidas/ WE Cycles/ Bianchi with Anke Erlank (RSA) and Fourie Kotze (RSA), finally achieved their goal and won a stage.

Early in the race, Silvio Bundi (SUI) of the leading team Specialized ripped off his derailleur. “In the first downhill a small stick got caught between my spokes of my wheel. Fortunately we were able to fix it, but it cost us about seven minutes. When we got back onto our bikes we knew we would have to ride very hard to close the gap. At the second watering point we had already narrowed the lead by thee minutes and eventually we caught up with the front bunch before we reached the third water point.” The tough final climb was made even more strenuous by the fact that the leading teams started to attack. Today it was team GT Mr. Price with Marc Bassingthwaighte and Arno Viljoen that made the bold first move of trying the break away in the technical climb. Stevens rider Christian Heule responded immediately stepping up the pace to follow them. Johannes was left behind with the rest of the pack. “We were pushed to our limits during that climb”, remembered Silvio. “Christian was very strong in the ascents today. They really deserved to win the stage that’s why we gave way at the finish line. We were also a bit tired from pushing so hard to catch up with them. We only had about 20 minutes to recover and the race was on again.”

“It was really hard today, like almost every stage”, Christian Heule said. “I am very impressed by the amateurs that participate in this race. We are pros; it is our job to ride our bikes. And we have five to six more hours time to regenerate. It is really cruel, by the time we have showered, have had our massage and go to eat some of these guys are still coming in. I admire their dedication and passion.”

Within its short lifetime, The Cape Epic has become a world class race. “It is now tougher and faster compared to the first two years”, commented Mannie Heymans (NAM) of team adidas Raleigh who won the inaugural Cape Epic in 2004 and who placed third today. “When you look at the overall results you can see that the leaders are literally minutes apart after more than 26 hours in the saddle. In previous years the gap was anything ranging from 30 minutes to an hour. You cannot come to The Cape Epic and be ‘unprepared’. If you want to make it onto the podium you have to be at the top of your game.”

This was exactly the case today for South Africa’s Mixed favourites Anke Erlank and Fourie Kotze who outpaced the Mixed leaders by more than six minutes when the crossed the finish line after 4:38:09. But it wasn’t all easy going as Anke crashed an hour into the race when the leading group single filed out on a jeep track and her front wheel overlapped with someone’s back wheel. “It was on a downhill single track. I was going down at about 55 km/h when it happened. Next thing I knew I hit a rock and thought ‘tuck and roll’ as I always preach to amateurs. You must relax when you fall.” Anke grazed her entire right hand side when she hit the ground and damaged her saddle in the process. Fourie, Anna Baylis-(AUS) and Jörg Scheiderbauer (GER) were caught up in the crash and went down as well. “In the collision the tow rope contraption that the Scheiderbauers are using broke”, Anke explained, “so we actually waited for them to fix it. Jörg is a master in improvisation. Then the four of us rode together for about 30 kilometres licking our wounds.” Going at a consistent pace the two Mixed teams got closer and closer to the leading bunch. In a very technical section of the route with demanding up- and downhills through beautiful fields of fynbos Anke and Fourie left the green leader jerseys behind. “I suppose they were tired and Anna was probably hurting. Maybe they had a mechanical problem, but I actually don’t know. We never saw them again”, said Fourie who at 51 years of age is the oldest competitor in the elite group. “I said to Anke we must go now and so we rode hard. We saw a group at the horizon and 15 minutes later we caught them and left them behind. We then caught Geddan and Linus around water point 3 and we stayed together until the last technical climb. At one point we passed Brandon Stewart (RSA) and Shan Wilson (RSA). I could see that Shan was feeling miserable today, he was so pale and sick on his stomach. Later they caught us up and we rode with them until the finish.”

Challenges behind the scenes

Burning up to 5000 calories and more during the strenuous stages, the riders must first of all refuel when they arrive at the finish. Feeding 1500 Epic participants and crew every day is a challenge for those who work behind the scenes. During the race week the riders consume almost 15 000 muffins and pastries, 2100 loafs of bread, 41300 pieces of fresh fruit, 1305 kilos of cereals, 11 000 juice packs and 2800 kilos of pasta, to just list a few. Each day, the dining marquee has to be equipped with 150 tables and 1500 chairs which have to be packed up again after dinner. The Cape Epic’s catering manager Andrew Dietrich of Spier Wine Estate has even created an incentive programme to speed up the process. “We’ve asked the local schools to send us their rugby team to set up the dining marquee and we turned it into a competition. The school with the fastest set-up times wins a trophy, cash and a weekend accommodation at Spier for a raffle. To date Swellendam has been the fastest with 1 hour 33 minutes offloading the truck and 57 minutes to upload.”

Andrew Dietrich faces yet another challenge: whilst in previous years the entire Cape Epic catering was supplied by Spier, this year the towns prepare the food for the riders. “We want the towns to benefit from The Cape Epic, that’s why we decided to hand over the daily catering to the respective stage locations”, he stated. “We are monitoring the food preparation and consult the towns with a team of five catering and banqueting experts as well as a health and safety officer. Day one is always the hardest day of the Epic, because everything is new and you have to find your routine. For us, every day is a ‘day one’ since we are working with a new town each day. But we have done several pre-visits so we knew about the challenges in each town and we have adjusted the menu accordingly. For instance, we discarded BBQs at places where a gravel road was close to the kitchen tent.” Andrew Dietrich’s team is supported by microbiologist Ian Scholtz of SWIFT Micro Laboratories who runs several hygiene audits with food and swaps (towels, gloves etc.) each day. “I work off a full hygiene checklist of four different kitchens”, Ian explained. “One of the most important aspects is temperature control; I check the fridges, the cooking process and the hot holding. If I have a concern, the food has to be dumped as we don’t want to take a safety risk. Imagine over 1000 riders getting a food poisoning. Events of this size should always have a health and hygiene officer. But the reality is that The Cape Epic is the first event that I am aware of to have put this important function in place.”


1 Johannes Sickmueller (Ger)/Christian Heule (Swi) Stevens Racing                  4.16.28
2 Christophe Sauser (Swi)/Silvio Bundi (Swi) Specialized                                  
3 Kevin Evans (RSA)/Mannie Heymans (Nam) adidas Raleigh                               1.11
1 Sabine Grona (Ger)/Kerstin Brachtendorf (Ger) adidas-Fiat-Rotwild                5.37.54
2 Elisabeth Hager (Aut)/Sandra Lettner (Aut) Mountainbike Revue                      10.30
3 Barbara Kreisle (USA)/Christina Begy (USA) Go Fast Girls                         2.05.38
1 Linus van Onselen (RSA)/Geddan Ruddock (RSA) Absa Business Banking Services      4.37.04
2 Ergee du Toit (RSA)/Corrie Muller (RSA) dennis mccann                               5.47
3 Tony Conlon (RSA)/Lieb Loots (RSA) Marsilio Projects                               17.11
1 Fourie Kotze (RSA)/Anke Erlank (RSA) adidas/W E Cycles/Bianchi                   4.38.09
2 Jorg Scheiderbauer (Ger)/Anna Baylis-Scheiderbauer (Ger) GHOST International        6.06
3 Dolores Maechler (Swi)/Severin Rupp (Swi) radys.com                                 8.59

General classificaitons after stage 6
1 Christophe Sauser (Swi)/Silvio Bundi (Swi) Specialized                          26.23.40
2 Johannes Sickmueller (Ger)/Christian Heule (Swi) Stevens Racing                    13.09
3 Karl Platt (Ger)/Carsten Bresser (Ger) Rocky Mountain Business Object              15.21
1 Sabine Grona (Ger)/Kerstin Brachtendorf (Ger) adidas-Fiat-Rotwild               34.34.44
2 Elisabeth Hager (Aut)/Sandra Lettner (Aut) Mountainbike Revue                      55.17
3 Barbara Kreisle (USA)/Christina Begy (USA) Go Fast Girls                         5.03.42
1 Linus van Onselen (RSA)/Geddan Ruddock (RSA) Absa Business Banking Services     29.01.54
2 Ergee du Toit (RSA)/Corrie Muller (RSA) dennis mccann                              51.50
3 Tony Conlon (RSA)/Lieb Loots (RSA) Marsilio Projects                             1.36.55
1 Jorg Scheiderbauer (Ger)/Anna Baylis-Scheiderbauer (Ger) GHOST International    29.22.23
2 Fourie Kotze (RSA)/Anke Erlank (RSA) adidas/W E Cycles/Bianchi                     42.14
3 Dolores Maechler (Swi)/Severin Rupp (Swi) radys.com                                55.36