Songo in League of Their Own
Author : Press Release
PhotoCredit : Shaun Roy/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS
Date Posted : 2018/03/25
The trails in and around Wellington on Stage 6 would offer a superb mix of singletrack but with 2000m of vertical ascent spread over 76km the racing was anything but easy, especially with a resurgent Cannondale Factory Racing outfit looking to reclaim their second place on the general classification over Canyon Topeak.
Attacks would come early and at regular intervals. Cannondale Factory Racing’s Henrique Avancini made his early ambitions known when he and Mani Fumic sent the leading group into a frenzy of watts and panic. Canyon Topeak and Centurion Vaude had no choice but to follow in a fast-paced first hour of racing that would see Nicola Rohrbach hit the deck in a crash – something he, and teammate Daniel Geismayr, would never fully recover from.
“Today we rode for the GC,” said Avancini. “We had two goals: get clear of Centurion Vaude and get back our second place from Canyon Topeak. That’s why we put the pressure on early and kept the pace high.”
After riding at the measured pace for most of the morning Investec Songo Specialized would finally make their move on the Green Mamba – a long and steep brute of a climb. Cannondale Factory Racing were unable go with the attack and were forced to adopt a damage control approach for the reminder of the stage. For the Czech Express and his partner, Howie Grotts, it was full speed ahead, the two riding a faultless final 35km in which they stamped their dominance and consolidated their lead.
“It was a pretty good day for us. We knew the profile would suit us so we put pressure on from the start, said Fumic. We lead for most of the stage and tried to press on all the time and put the other guys in the hurt box. Investec Songo Specialized attacked us on Mamba climb but we had nothing left. We saw Canyon Topeak were taking strain so we kept the pace on to get the gap and extend it.”
Their tactic worked and after initially marking Cannondale’s continued attacks, Canyon Topeak’s Alban Lakata was unable to match the intensity and fell off the pace. They’d eventually finish Stage 6 in fifth position and surrender their four second lead and second place position on the general classification to Cannondale Factory Racing.
“Today Investec Songo Specialized showed that they are unreachable,” said a dejected Lakata. “They are both in impressive shape. We lost second but tomorrow we will try again. It was a proper fight with Cannondale so let’s hope the legs are there tomorrow to close that gap.”
Jaroslav Kulhavy was pleased with the way he and partner Grotts performed on Stage 6 but mentioned the race is not over until they cross the finish line at Val de Vie on Sunday’s Grand Finale. Still, their lead has grown to well over eight minutes and barring any misfortune the race is theirs for the taking.
“Howie (Grotts) has been getting stronger every day,” said Kulhavy. “We have to be careful tomorrow. We have a pretty good gap so there can’t be any crashes or mechanicals.”
“Today was perfect – after we got a gap, we just kept a consistent pace,” said Grotts. It’s been an incredible experience thus far and everything has just clicked together for us.”
Trek Selle San Marco 2’s Fabian Rabensteiner and Michele Casagrande continued their consistent run of results by finishing second, leapfrogging Simon Stiebjahn and Tim Bohme (BULLS 2) to sixth overall in the general classification – a position they may very well defend going into the Grand Finale on Sunday.
“It is really nice to be with the front guys racing,” said Rabensteiner. “We are having a good time at the moment. Today’s stage was a really great one – not just our finishing on the podium but the routes, too.”
The biggest surprise of the day was the South African pairing of Matthew Beers and Nico Bell (NAD MTB) who appear to have found their groove after a series of illness setbacks hampered Beers’ earlier performances. The re-energised NAD MTB duo put in a superlative performance that saw them cross the line as the first all-South African team. They now find themselves in third place overall on the Absa African Men’s special jersey competition behind leaders Matthys Beukes and Julian Jessop (PYGA Euro Steel) and HB Kruger and Stuart Marais (Ellsworth-ASG).
“We got some time on the Absa African Men’s special jersey race today,” said Bell. “Tomorrow we will give it a full effort. That’s the goal – we will go as hard as we can.”
More About This Event
With 69km and 2000m of vertical gain standing between riders and a finisher’s medal at Val de Vie Estate, this year’s Grand
Much has been made of the Kulhavy Express hauling the Investec Songo Specialized men to victory at the Absa Cape Epic, but their
Illness and injury has been a constant spectre hanging over the women’s race at the Absa Cape Epic, and on Saturday it once again
Yellow and Orange are increasingly beginning to look like gold as the men’s and women’s leader jersey wearers consolidated
There was cause for double celebrations for Investec Songo Specialized as they put themselves in an almost invincible position on
Despite winning the Queen Stage on Thursday 21 March, Centurion Vaude’s Daniel Geismayr and Nicola Rohrbach still find themselves in
A breakaway at the start of Stage 3 turned the Men’s category and general classification on its head as the race moved to
The Investec Songo Specialized team kept their unbeaten record intact in the Women’s category by claiming win number four on the
The battle between the marathon racers and cross-country specialists continued into Stage 2, on a tougher course with more climbing and
Once again Annika Langvad and Kate Courtney stamped their authority on the Women’s category of the Absa Cape Epic when they collected
Sunday’s Prologue marked a well-earned victory for Centurion Vaude and the marathon contingent but the cross-country specialists had
Multiple World Champion Annika Langvad and her young American partner Kate Courtney overcame a puncture to surge to a second successive
You can’t win the Absa Cape Epic on the Prologue but you can prove a point – and that’s exactly what the Centurion Vaude
Three-time winner Annika Langvad and her novice partner Kate Courtney combined perfectly to win the Prologue of the 2018 Absa Cape Epic at
Table Mountain National Park is proud to host the Prologue of the 2018 Absa Cape Epic. When the 20km time trial takes place on Sunday 18
After a year’s break three-time Absa Cape Epic Women’s category champion Annika Langvad is back having “built up the
The Absa Cape Epic Men’s category is gearing up for a veritable clash of the titans as world champions, national champions and
In one breath, Nicola Rohrback will tell you that there is no secret to winning the Absa Cape Epic. In the next, the Swiss will smile and
Cannondale Factory Racing’s baggy-wearing duo of Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini might be one of the most entertaining teams at
Choosing the Absa Cape Epic as your first-ever stage race and partnering with a modern legend is not a decision most would take. But
When the powerful diesel engine that drives the Jaroslav Kulhavy Express leaves the station, you had better be ready or you will be left
Karl Platt may have broken his hip just a few months ago but he’s back to his best and is feeling confident ahead of this
Top South African mountain biker Candice Lill finished her first Absa Cape Epic in 2017 “hungry for more”. Lill used
One of the enduring images of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic, was Sabine Spitz crossing the line with a stick and tape holding her broken
Hope springs eternal for Alban Lakata as he heads into his ninth Absa Cape Epic, desperately seeking the win that has proved elusive for
From the majestic slopes of Table Mountain to the magnificence of the Grand Finale at Val de Vie Estate with a manic time trial in between