Somerset West - Burry Stander has become the first South African to ever win the Absa Cape Epic, when he and partner Christoph Sauser walked away with top honours as overall winners of this year’s Cape Epic on Sunday.
With a ten minute and 51 second lead time at the start, Stander and Sauser finished the last 8 days of the Magical and Untamed Mountain Bike Race of 707km in an overall time of 28:44.44,0.
It is the first time in the history of the race that a South African is part of the winning team.
In second place in an overall time of 28:51.52,8 were the German team of Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss (Multivan Merida Biking), with the Bulls, Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, in third place overall in 29:05.53,7.
Platt and Sahm won the Absa Cape Epic in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and Karl Platt won in the inaugural year (2004) with Mannie Heymans from Namibia. He is the most successful participant in the history of the race having won four times with eleven stage wins.
The Swiss Flückiger brothers, Lukas and Mathias, of the Trek World Racing team, won the final stage on Sunday in 2:33.18,6 with Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss (Multivan Merida Biking) in second place (2:35.37,1). They were closely followed by José Hermida and Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida Biking 3) in 2:39.06,1, with Alexandre Moos and Balthasar Weber of BMC Mountainbike Racing in fourth place (2:39.07,4).
Stander and Sauser took a slower pace once they reached the final 200 metres in order to enjoy the overwhelming welcome of the crowds, finishing in fifth place in 2:39.19,7.
Stander said: “We didn’t start off well today. We lost about 4 minutes with a flat. We then chased hard again to catch up with the leading group, only to find out that Multivan Merida attacked. We finally caught up with them and could then relax and enjoy it to the finish. Today was still hard, but we were prepared for that. To be the first South African to win this race is on par to winning the World Championships. The Absa Cape Epic takes more work because for eight days you have to be perfect instead of only one day.”
Sauser added: “This is only my opinion, but I was surprised when they attacked (Multivan Merida) when we were having problems. We then had to risk not staying with our back-up teams to make up some time. When we finally caught up with them, we could enjoy the rest of the race. This race is definitely up there with the World Championships. I can’t describe the feeling of winning in words, but I know the exhaustion will hit us tomorrow.”
Mannie Heymans and Adrien Niyonshuti (team Garmin adidas MTN) won the African Jersey in an overall time of 30:29.36,5, followed by Brandon Stewart and Shan Wilson (Toyota DCM) in 31:33.52,7. Paul Cordes and Charles Keey (MTN/Qhubeka) finished in third position in 32:01.11,9. Heymans and Niyonshuti finished in 9th position overall.
In the Ladies category Sally Bigham and Karien Van Jaarsveld (team USN) finished in third place today (3:30.37,5) and are the overall winners of the Ladies category in 37:44.09.0.
Eva Lechner and Nathalie Schneitter (team Colnago Arreghini Südtirol) finished second in a time of 39:18.02,7. They also won the final stage on Sunday in 3:29.04,7. In third place overall was the Absa aBreast team of Hanlie Booyens and Ischen Stopforth in 39:24.09,6. They finished in fifth place today in 3:43.49,0. In second place was the Attix5 Ladies team of Hannele Steyn and Leana de Jager in a time of 3:30.30,1.
In the Master’s Category the Juwi team (Carsten Bresser and Udo Boelts) secured their 7th stage win in 2:58.10,2 and won the Masters category in 31:31.26,1. They were followed by Robert Sim and Doug Brown of the Robert Daniel team in 3:00.20,9 (2nd overall Masters, 32:30.16,7), with the Toyota Cyclelab team of Gary Marescia and Bruce Diesel in third place in 3:05.26,2 and fourth overall 33:58.02,2. In third place overall (Masters) were Adrian Enthoven and Gerrie Beukes (team Nandos) in 33:32.34,5.
In the Mixed Category Erik Kleinhans and Ariane Lüthi (of Contego Giant Sludge) finally had their first stage win by finishing first in the Mixed category in 3:04.42,2 and second overall in 34:52.27,7. The Wheeler - BIXS team, Bärti Bucher and Esther Süss, having won 7 stages of this year’s event, finished in second place in 3:05.41,1 and first overall in 33:53.12,5. In third place overall were Ivonne Kraft and Peter Vesel (Raedisch Race) with a time of 37:04.39,7. They finished fourth place today (3:11.28,5).