Stander, Sauser win warm-up
Cape Town - Reigning ABSA Cape Epic champions, Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser, claimed a confidence boosting overall victory at the Columbia Grape Escape three-day mountain bike stage race at Boschendal Wine Farm near Cape Town on Saturday.
Racing in the colours of 36One Songo.info, the cycling development initiative that Sauser established for disadvantaged South African youngsters, the Specialized Racing Team pair showed they’re in good form and on track to defend their Cape Epic title later this month. The three stages of the Grape Escape covered some of the same trails set for the 2012 Cape Epic. The event also attracted a high quality field, making Stander and Sauser work hard for the victory.
Stander, the current South African marathon champion and Sauser, the current world marathon champion, won all three stages, outsprinting Nedbank 360Life’s David George and Kevin Evans on Stage 1 and then ousting multiple Cape Epic winners, Stefan Sahm and Karl Platt (Team Bulls 1) on Stages 2 and 3 for the top podium spot.
Evans and George’s quest to defend the title they won in 2011 ended when George became ill after Stage 2, leaving the two Bulls teams to fill the remaining podium spots, with Germans Sahm and Platt (Bulls 1) filling second and German Tim Bohme and French marathon champion, Thomas Dietsch (Bulls 2) claiming third overall.
“The whole event went very smoothly for us,” said Stander. “We had no technical or physical problems whatsoever. We used the event to fine-tune our preparation for the Cape Epic and we’re happy with our equipment and our form.”
Stander said that although the pace was hard, they were never in any kind of difficulty.
“We never attacked and just rode our own pace. Day 1 wasn’t really a great route, but Days 2 and 3 were superb. The final day was actually tough with over 2 000 metres of climbing in 66km. We managed just fine and it seems like our recipe is still working.
“We don’t get to race much together other than at the Cape Epic, so it was a well-timed preparation event for us. Christoph is surprised at his form because he’s come from European winter. I’m happy with my form because I came into this race from a hard week of training. I had to return to my recovery nutrition supplementation regime after each stage, which I’ve not needed to do for a while and clearly, that is working. There are still three weeks until the start of the Epic so still time to fine-tune,” smiled Stander.
With both Stander and Sauser eyeing Olympic gold in London later this year, the pair will head to the KwaZulu-Natal province next to compete in the opening round of the 2012 Cross-country World Cup in Pietermaritzburg on March 17. They’ll then head back to the Western Cape for the 2012 Cape Epic, which starts on March 25 and ends on April 1.Overall results
Team Men 1st: Burry Stander / Christoph Sauser (Team Songo- Specialized) (08:14:45)
Team Men 2nd: Stefan Sahm / Karl Platt (Team Bulls) (08:18:56)
Team Men 3rd: Tim Böhme / Thomas Dietsch (Team Bulls) (08:25:09)
Team Ladies 1st: Hanlie Booyens / Jane Seggie(Cape Argus Ladies) (10:22:44)
Team Ladies 2nd: Yolandi du Toit / Nicci Grobler (Team Bizhub-fcf) (10:40:53)
Team Ladies 3rd: Nicola Walker / Jennie Stenerhag (Thule/Diadora) (10:56:33)