Cape Epic Stage 1 – a reality check for all riders

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Canyon Northwave MTB won stage 1 and took the yellow jersey (Photo: Nick Muzik/Cape Epic)
Canyon Northwave MTB won stage 1 and took the yellow jersey (Photo: Nick Muzik/Cape Epic)
  • Showing how different the same terrain can be when distances increase – a lot. Cape Epic riders suffered through a brutal stage 1 at Lourensford.
  • The happy smiles of Sunday’s prologue were in short supply.
  • European teams showed their power among the elite riders, with South African riders struggling for podiums.

Cape Epic wisdom dictates that a good prologue never guarantees a great Stage 1. And the first 'real' stage of this year's Cape Epic proved this to be fact.

Although the trails were terrific, with great singletrack descents, the 92km route punished riders with 2850m of climbing. And many of those climbs were of the sharp and steep variety.

Riders were granted very few free meters on stage 1, to spin out the legs and recover.

mountain bike
Mariske Strauss leads the ladies down Heldeberg trails (Photo: Nick Muzik/Cape Epic)

Mechanical denies former champ the women’s win

In the women's race, five-time Cape Epic winner Ariane Lüthi and teammate Amy Wakefield were in control for most of the stage, until a mechanical forced them to stop. This allowed Argentina's Sofia Gomez Villafane and American Haley Batten, to take the win for NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized. The South African team of Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss, were thrid. 

For the men's category, European rider depth and talent was evident. 

Canyon Northwave took the overall win, with Andreas Seewald (Germany) and Martin Stošek (Czech Republic) finishing nearly a minute ahead of Hans Becking (Netherlands) and José Dias (Portugal). Fabian Rabensteiner (Italy) and Wout Alleman (Belgium) completed the men's podium.

Mountain bike race
Somerset West has some amazing mountain bike trails. But riders work hard, for their descents. (Photo: Nick Muzik/Cape Epic)

A tough day for the defending Cape Epic champ

Seewald and Stošek take the overall lead into stage 2, followed by Becking and Dias, with Maxime Marotte and Keegan Swenson third overall, on the general classification timesheet.

Prologue winners, Matt Beers and Christopher Blevins, struggled through stage 1. On occasion, the defending Cape Epic champion received a push from his American teammate, but the pair could not stay with the lead group.

Beers and Blevins finished the day in 12th and dropped to eight position, in the overall rankings.

Nino
Unquestionably the best rider at the Cape Epic, Nino Shurter, had another day of bizarre tyre failures. (Photo: Cape Epic/Twitter)

It only gets harder from here

After a nightmarish prologue with tyre and wheel issues, Nino Schurter and his Scott-SRAM teammate, Lars Foster, had a point to prove on stage 1. Amazingly, Schurter again suffered from tyre issues. Despite this, the Scott-SRAM team rode strongly to finish in fifth place, for a general classification of seventh.

The Cape Epic peloton transitions from the Helderberg area to Greyton, for stage 2. It is much longer stage, measuring 123km.

Stage 2 has a route profile that sees 2350m of climbing. It will be another severe test for the riders. Especially those amateurs and foreign teams unaccustomed to the Western Cape's heat and dust, this time of year.

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