South Africa’s finest surge at Absa Cape Epic

Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock (File)
Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock (File)

Cape Town - Another day, another impressive ride at the Absa Cape Epic for the leading men in the race for the Absa African special jersey.

Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock (USN Purefit) have looked unflappable at the 2016 Absa Cape Epic; not even a string of minor irritations have been able to unsettle the South African duo. On the 73km Stage 4 through the trail network of Wellington, they suffered another early puncture, yet remained calm to increase their overall lead in the Absa African special jersey competition to 17 minutes.

The next best of the African challengers, Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell (NAD Pro MTB) chased hard on the day, but they couldn’t stop the former roadies from pulling away towards the finish.

Lill and Woolcock eventually finished ninth on the day, in a time of 3:15.14,7. That was enough to add approximately two minutes to their overnight Absa African lead of 15 minutes. Combrinck and Bell rode well to finish 12th on Stage 4, in 3:17.06,2.

With lots of challenging, technical climbs and a route predominantly winding through the renowned mountain biking hotspot of Welvenpas, Stage 4 was not a day particularly suited to road cyclists turned mountain bikers.

Lill and Woolcock, though, have shown this week that they can stop referring to themselves as ‘roadies’ and proudly take on the mountain biker mantle. “The stage didn't really suit us,” said a typically self-effacing Woolcock, “but we were able to extend our advantage in the Absa African special jersey a little bit more. That was the plan today. We didn’t want to overextend ourselves, so all in all everything went according to plan."

Despite another small spot of bad luck, the pair pushed on to finish well again, something they’ve become accustomed to this week. "Today was good, but after getting a puncture yesterday we got another one early today. Lucky we were able to plug it quickly and kept the gap on Gawie and Nico,” said Woolcock.”

While Stage 4 could be interpreted as something of a respite for the riders, Stage 5 of the Absa Cape Epic is fully back in Epic mode. Riders will head from Wellington to Boschendal Wine Estate in Stellenbosch in a 93km stage that features five big climbs along the way. There is 2 500m of climbing in total on the day.

Ahead of the 2016 event, Stage 5 was labelled as potentially the toughest stage of them all. Team USN Purefit is unperturbed, though. “If there is any stage that suits us - that we might target for a stage win - it’s Stage 5,” said Woolcock. “But that all depends on what happens on the day.”

Stage 4 results

1. USN Purefit 7-1 Darren Lill (South Africa) 7-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 3:15.14,7
2. NAD Pro MTB 8-1 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 8-2 Nico Bell (South Africa) 3:17.06,2 +1.51,5
3. Rwanda 21-1 Nathan Byukusenge (Rwanda) 21-2 Thinus Redelinghuys (South Africa) 3:25.24,3 +10.09,6

Overall results

1. USN Purefit 7-1 Darren Lill (South Africa) 7-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 18:05.49,0
2. NAD Pro MTB 8-1 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 8-2 Nico Bell (South Africa) 18:22.20,1 +16.31,1
3. Rwanda 21-1 Nathan Byukusenge (Rwanda) 21-2 Thinus Redelinghuys (South Africa) 19:39.56,3 +1:34.07,3
4. Imbuko-Freewheel Cycology 25-1 Christopher Wolhuter (South Africa) 25-2 Craig Boyes (South Africa) 19:43.50,2 +1:38.01,2
5. William Simpson A 33-1 Michael Posthumus (South Africa) 33-2 Derrin Smith (South Africa) 19:47.55,2 +1:42.06,2
6. Britehouse Biogen 24-1 Carl Pasio (South Africa) 24-2 Charles Keey (South Africa) 19:53.07,5 +1:47.18,5
7. White Inc 61-1 Adrian Enthoven (South Africa) 61-2 Nic White (South Africa) 19:54.35,4 +1:48.46,4
8. GoPro 30-1 Oliver Munnik (South Africa) 30-2 Matthew Beers (South Africa) 19:59.10,5 +1:53.21,5
9. NFB - Spine & Sport 32-1 Craig Uria (South Africa) 32-2 Andrew Duvenage (South Africa) 20:00.06,7 +1:54.17,7
10. Cycle Lab 66-1 Andrew Mclean (South Africa) 66-2 Doug Brown (South Africa) 20:19.17,1 +2:13.28,1

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