Four days ago the toughest stage race in South Africa started. The Absa Cape Epic is considered the “Tour de France of mountain biking”. After three stages plus prologue, Annika Langvad and her teammate Anna van der Breggen clearly dominate the women’s field. At the men´s field, however, the front positions are heavily fought over and there is still no clear favorite.
The Specialized-duo in the women category fits perfectly into their role as a favorite. Annika and Anna won masterfully all stages and so they are in the lead overall, with 24 seconds ahead .
The prologue already showed their dominance. After just six, out of a total of 20 kilometers to go, they had already gain over one minute to their rivals.
Also at the first stage of 111km with start and finish in Hermanus, the duo could settle early and rolled, with a total of 3:07 minutes before their pursuers, across the finish line.
On the third day, the top favorites completed their hattrick. However, over the 90km, the fatigue was noticeable. Especially for the street world champion, Anna, the long stages represent a special challenge. Also in the technical passages she was not sure before, if she could keep up with her experienced teammate.
The third stage also had no surprises to offer for our two riders. They pedaled along the track at their pace, literally shaking off their pursuers. This allowed them to further expand their overall leadership.
Although it seems like the overall standing in the women category is as good as decided, but in the upcoming four days with a total of 302 kilometers to ride, everything is still possible and can happen.
Sam Gaze has to give up because of serious injury
At the men´s category, things started to get turbulent from day one. As well with our athletes.
After a successful start into the competition, the tide turned for Jaroslav Kulhavy and Sam Gaze. At the longest stage, the Kiwi crashed. In a post on Instagram, he summarizes the stage and the fall: “Long story short, lost time early on, crash my brains out which lost me some time and left me nursing a sore body, lost more time again and then a dropped chain to polish off an eventful day. ” Yet they became sixth. But the fall should have consequences. The second stage, the Specialized rider suffered with severe pain. At this point, he did not want to give up yet. “I’ve taken a big knock, and it takes time to recover but I’m not willing to give up on a team and team mate who are supporting me so well. For sure the overall is gone, but we aren’t leaving the Epic without a fight, “he writes after the finish on rank 37. But then, the journey ended. “Yesterday afternoon my condition got worse, following with issues this morning,” he wrote. A concussion was diagnosed.
His teammate Jaroslav can not defend his overall victory, but he continued as support for the team Specialized Foundation NAD with Alan Hatherly and Matthew Beers.
Alan and Matthew competed as absolute outsiders. Although far from the yellow jersey, the team still puts a lot of pressure on the top. In the prologue, the team was stopped by a rear wheel defect of Matthew, which cost them a few seconds. Nevertheless, they reached the fifth place. Since then, they are confidently in the top ten (# 1 place 9, # 2 place 7, # 3 place 7). This puts them in seventh place in the overall standings.
What lasts long is getting better and better
The two riders of the team Centurion Vaude, Daniel Geismayr and Jochen Käß, are two old hands in terms of stage races. For several years they already participate in the Absa Cape Epic. After four years, however, they find themselves together again as team partners. And that, with success. Starting in tenth place at the prologue, they finally work their way up to fifth place in the third stage. The many endurance races have taught them to divide their power well. We are curious if they climb the ladder further up.
Also Bart Brentjens is brimming with experience at the Absa Caoe Epic. The Dutchman has not missed an epic year and has recorded four overall victories so far. The signs are good that he can add another to his collection this year. The fifty-year-old, together with his colleague Abraoo Azevedo, has won every single stage victory in the Grand Masters category so far, and with a 37-second lead in the overall standings, the pair are already quite close to the gold medal.
Further results of our athletes: