- Milder weather and a shorter stage allowed riders to recover.
- But for the pro teams, it was all about gaining positions in the overall classification.
- And the defending Cape Epic champion showed his intentions with a powerful display on the Greyton trails.
The Cape Epic route tests but rarely delights. It is not supposed to be easy, but organisers usually reward riders with a 'play day' after very challenging stages.
Monday and Tuesday saw Cape Epic riders experience some of the most demanding stages in the event’s history. But stage 4 was a chance to gain positions for those teams riding strong, or recover, for riders suffering from fatigue.
Cooler weather was a theme along the 82km route, looping around Greyton, with a total ascent of 1650m.
Getting over the stage 2 loss
The defending Cape Epic champion rode an incredibly tactical race, featuring terrific teamwork by the Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized team.
One of stage 4’s highlights was Christopher Blevins squirting chain lube on Beers’ chain, while the team rode furiously in the lead bunch.
Exciting spring finish
Beers and Andreas Seewald broke away from their teammates with little more than 5km to the finish. Both riders then slowed with the finish 1km in the distance, to allow for a tactical sprint to the line.
In the sprint, Blevins delivered by beating Seewald’s Canyon Northwave MTB teammate, Martin Stošek, and gave Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized the stage win by 2.1 seconds. Third place went to stage 3 winners, Speed Company Racing’s George Egger and Lukas Baum.
The powerful Scott-SRAM team has a terrible day, with Nino Schurter and Lars Forster finishing in 17th place.
Another win for Robyn in her last Epic
In the women’s race Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Robyn de Groot won by 01:12.2 from Haley Batten and Sofía Gómez Villafane. Third place went to Mari Rabie and Hayley Preen.
The Cape Epic general classification sees Canyon Northwave MTB’s Andreas Seewald and Martin Stošek with a 04:48.1 lead ahead of second-placed George Egger and Lukas Baum (Speed Company Racing).
Matt Beers and Christopher Blevins (Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized) are in third place overall, heading into stage 5, trailing the leaders by 06:50.0.
Back to 'normal' for stage 5
The women’s race has Batten and Gómez Villafane (NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized), leading by a commanding 11:06.7, followed by Ferrand-Prévot and De Groot (BMC MTB Racing). Occupying third place overall, is the South African combination of Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss (Face Rola), 15:44.2 off the lead.
Stage 5 routes the Cape Epic riders from Greyton to Stellenbosch.
After a fun day on the bike for stage 4, the Cape Epic’s fifth leg will take riders back into the pain cave, with 115km and 2400m of climbing.