Elements batter Epic riders

Christoph Sauser pushing hard. (Chris Hitchcock)
Christoph Sauser pushing hard. (Chris Hitchcock)
Chris Hitchcock
Cape Town -  First wind, then the threat of fire and finally heavy rains wreaked havoc on Thursday as event organisers of the Cape Epic mountain bike race were forced to change the route and then some tents housing more than a thousand cyclists and journalists collapsed under heavy rain.

More than 1 200 riders - both pro and amateur - take part in the event which takes place over 8 days and 781km, with 16 300m on climbs.

Kati Csak, race director, says the race was re-routed on Thursday at one point after the first 100 cyclists had gone through, because the gusting wind suddenly changed direction and a fire threatened the course and riders.

"The wind caused havoc," she said.

Sian Bailey, the spokesperson for the 36ONE-SONGO-SPECIALIZED team said that a number of tents of competitors and members of the media collapsed after heavy rains and wind pounded the campsite at around 20:00 on Thursday evening.

Those affected by the rain and weather were all moved into the school hall, said Csak. 

It was still raining late on Thursday evening and the Weather Service warned that heavy rain was expected in the Overberg area of the Western Cape on Friday morning.

"The pro teams all stay in camper vans and are unaffected by the weather," Bailey said.

“The stage was shorter than yesterday, but I think the wattage was higher due to false peaks. When you don’t know the route, it is hard to set goals. Towards the end, strong winds made the dust unbearable. We were lucky that it was pretty quiet when travelling up Babylonstoring and descending on Charlie’s Heaven otherwise it would have been hard to keep balance”, said Christoph Sauser of the 36one-Songo-Specialized team who is wearing the leader's yellow jersey.

Friday’s stage 5 from Caledon through Gabrielskloof near Botrivier and up to the Highlands area near Elgin will kick off as planned even though wet conditions are expected, said Csak.

The route may be adjusted, however, depending on actual conditions.

Scouts will be leaving at 04:00 to recce the route, said Csak.


 
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