Cape Town - Former two-time Absa Cape Epic winner Roel Paulissen of Belgium was back at the top of the podium on Friday after winning a tough stage five with Italian partner Riccardo Chiarini (Torpado).
South African Philip Buys and Swiss world champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo) finished six seconds behind them after a dramatic chase into the overnight stop at Elgin.
Drama played out in the race for overall honours during Friday's 110km leg.
Early into the stage, leader Kristian Hynek of the Czech Republic, riding with German Robert Mennen in team Topeak-Ergon, suffered simultaneous punctures in both his tyres. Centurion Vaude’s Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kaess came to their rescue, giving them Kaufmann’s tyres - which happened to be compatible.
Kaufmann and Kaess were already out of the running for the overall victory after a disastrous stage two on Thursday, when the former broke his frame.
In second-place overall, Christoph Sauser of Switzerland, and Czech Frantizek Rabon (Meerendal Songo Specialized) made inroads into the Topeak-Ergon team’s nearly 12-minute cushion, but Sauser’s tyre was slashed in a section of singletrack.
In the women’s category, Swiss Ariane Kleinhans and Dane Annike Langvad (RECM 2) won the stage by a significant 14 minutes, taking their overall lead -- over Swiss Esther Suss and Briton Sally Bigham (Meerendal) -- to more than 15 minutes.
This represented a dramatic turnaround after the RECM pairing were nearly 24 minutes behind after Monday’s first stage, where they suffered a series of punctures and technical problems.
The eight-stage race finishes at Lourensford Wine Estate on Sunday.
Results from stage five of the Absa Cape Epic on Friday
Men: 1 Roel Paulissen and Riccardo Chiarini (Torpado) 4:52:03.4. 2 Nino Schurter and Philip Buys (Scott-Odlo) 4:52:09.9. 3 Christoph Sauser and Frantisek Rabon (Meerendal Songo Specialized) 4:57:03.4.
Overall: 1 Mennen and Hynek 23:43:31.6; 2 Christoph Sauser and Frantisek Rabon (Meerendal Songo Specialized) 23:53:19.3; 3 Tim Boehme and Simon Stiebjahn (Bulls 2) 23:59:24.3.
Women: 1 Ariane Kleinhans and Annike Langvad (RECM 2) 5:29:20.5; 2 Esther Suss and Sally Bigham (Meerendal) 5:43:33.9; 3 Jennie Stenerhag and Theresa Ralph (Cape Brewing Company) 6:09:50.7.
Overall: 1 Kleinhans and Langvad 27:09:10.7; 2 Suss and Bigham 27:24:35.2; 3 Stenerhag and Ralph 28:53:25.6.