More Drama, Same Result For Cannondale
The battle between the marathon racers and cross-country specialists continued into Stage 2, on a tougher course with more climbing and even gnarlier terrain.
The pressure that comes with wearing the yellow jersey was etched onto the faces of Cannondale Factory Racing’s Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini ahead of Stage 2 this morning – a demanding 106km/2000m course that would yet again favour the diesel engines of the marathon racers. A new-found sense of maturity is paying off for the exuberant duo who spent most of the day conserving energy and riding smart.
Marathon incumbents and Prologue winners Nicola Rohrbach and Daniel Geismayr (Centurion Vaude) made up for yesterday’s ordinary display by riding to a calculated and powerful tempo. Their efforts were not without drama however… The pair experienced a mechanical early in the stage but the back-up team of Markus Kaufmann and Jodok Salzmann were on hand to assist with a rear-wheel change – a move that would ultimately keep them in third position on the general classification.
“I had a flat tyre after 5km and the bunch was quite big so we just kept pushing and managed to get back to them,” said Rohrbach. “It was not easy with all the dust but it was a better day for us and to get second today and win some time on Investec Songo Specialized is great.”
Geismayr echoed his partners sentiments: “Our strategy was to make up some time after yesterday. After 60km I tried to attack on a 100m climb but it all stayed together and nobody wanted to work so it came to sprint finish.”
Yesterday’s runners up, Investec Songo Specialized, made their intentions known when they attacked on the appreciably steep and loose “One-Two-Three” climb, a move only Canyon Topeak and Centurion Vaude were able to follow. They maintained their momentum on the loose descents by using their cross-country prowess to full effect and entered the 9.5km Bosvark Land Rover Technical Terrain in first position. The tight and twisty nature of this section worked in their favour but no sooner did they extend their lead than a costly puncture forced them to surrender it to a chasing pack comprising yellow jersey wearers Cannondale Factory Racing.
After putting in a serious effort to get back to the leading pack, Jaroslav Kulhavy and Howard Grotts looked poised for their first stage victory after breaking away a technical section about 15km from the finish. Kulhavy would unfortunately suffer another puncture and with it, surrender all hopes of snatching the yellow jersey away from Cannondale Factory Racing.
“Today we were let down by mechanicals,” said Grotts.” We were set for a good stage and did everything right. It was just so frustrating to be in the front and then lose time. I was riding over my limit when we chase back – now I just need to recover well.”
Further back the BULLS combination of five-time winner Karl Platt and Urs Huber were struggling to keep up with the pace – a surprise given yesterday’s valiant performance.
“Today I felt strong and good at the start,” said Platt. “But at 70km or so I just lost all my energy. I can’t explain it – this is just so disappointing.”
Daniel Geismayr (Centurion Vaude) tried to mix things up by attacking just after the Breede River crossing but Rohrbach was unable to match his partner’s effort and the bunch came together yet again. In the end it was Cannondale Factory Racing who asserted their dominance in the final 500m, communicating on an almost telepathic level which saw them outsmart Centurion Vaude and Canyon Topeak to win in a sprint finish for a second day in a row.
“Today was all about keeping safe for us,” said Fumic. “The stage suited the marathon guys more and they went for it to show us. We focussed on damage control but got caught out a few times. In the sprint our experience helped us for sure and to get the stage win and another day in yellow makes us happy. There’s still a lot of racing to come.”
Canyon Topeak’s Alban Lakata was happy to finish on the podium but expressed some of bitterness at how the final kilometres played out.
“Kristian was up to race in front today and it was brilliant,” said Lakata. “In the end the sprint finish was a little bit chaotic and I thought the Cannondale wouldn’t sprint – especially since we did a lot of work today.
“The course felt like it had less climbing but there was a lot of tricky terrain – sand, dust and slow single-track riding. I actually enjoyed the route today despite it not suiting my style of riding.
“Coming into the Absa Cape Epic I felt we could win every stage and I think we can still make up a lot of time in the next few days.”
The PYGA Euro Steel team of Matthys Beukes and Julian Jessop bagged their first win in the Absa African Men’s special jersey race with Timothy Hammond and Arno Du Toit (SPOT Africa) and HB Kruger and Stuart Marais (Ellsworth-ASG) rounding off the podium. NAD MTB’s Nico Bell and Matthew Beers – who finished 6th – were forced to surrender their red jersey to the Ellsworth-ASG pairing of Kruger and Marais.
“Today’s start was tough but we managed to work through it,” said Kruger. “We are very happy to get our hands on that red jersey – that was the one goal we had. There are still more days to come and we will defend the jersey.”
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
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
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
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