- New winners in the men’s category, at the Cape Epic’s fifth stage.
- The women’s race continues to be dominated by a single team.
- Riders will have to think about wet weather gear and tyres, for the next stage.
The Dutch-Portuguese pairing of Hans Becking and José Dias, rode a flawless race to win Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic.
This stage was a 73km rapid-fire race from Saronsberg, Tulbagh, to Goudini Spa in the Slanghoek Valley. And the Buff Scott MTB paced themselves perfectly.
Overall leaders Matt Beers and Jordan Sarrou (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) claimed second on the day, extending their overall lead through skill and circumstance.
Stage 3 winners, Canyon Northwave MTB, abandoned the stage before the start due to stomach complaints for Martin Stošek. Andreas Seewald continued as a solo rider but is out of the racing.
The BULLS rider Simon Schneller was also ill overnight but opted to start regardless. Despite the illness, he managed to complete the stage. That leaves Beers and Sarrou with a 00:06:42 lead over Martin Frey and Simon Stiebjahn (BULLS 2). Samuele Porro and Fabian Rabensteiner (Trek-Pirelli) now move into third on the general classification.
The men’s field started like they were racing for the last Woolworths chocolate milk, with the entire bunch scorching out of the Saronsberg start chute.
Beers and Sarrou, BULLS 2 and Trek-Pirelli attempted to hang with the leaders, but once onto the Slanghoek Trails, Buff Scott MTB could extend their lead further. The eventual winners had no trouble on the twisty, technical trails and could ride home to the Goudini Spa finish with uninterrupted views of the stunning Slanghoek Valley.
José Dias relished the technical trail riding. "There were some really fast parts in the beginning. Then there was some sand, then rocks, a bit of everything. The trails at the end were really nice and the bikes handled very well. I enjoyed the ride a lot today and the bonus was the stage win."
The weather forecast promises heavy rain over the next two days, something that doesn’t bother Dias. "I am from Portugal and Hans is from Holland; it rains a lot there. So we say ‘bring it on’."
The women's race, looks done
Nothing much changed in the women’s race. Sina Frei and Laura Stigger (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) won their fifth consecutive Absa Cape Epic stage in the Slanghoek Valley.
It means they now hold a near-unassailable 17 minute lead over Robyn de Groot and Ariane Luthi (Salusmed) with three stages to go.
Stage 5 is an 84km trail-riding festival with 2900m of climbing in and around the trails of Wellington. The first climb of the day is aptly named ‘Heavy Legs’, a section of the ride that could set the tone for the day.
With rain pending in the Wellington area, some of the downhill sections could become very muddy and punish inattentive or pressured riders, with the possibility of crashing. Tyre choice and drivetrain care, will be crucial factors in making it through the day, without mechanical issues.