Johannesburg - Switzerland's Christoph Sauser and his South African teammate Burry Stander are on a winning streak by again finishing first in Thursday's trial ride (Stage 4) of this year's Cape Epic.
They completed the tough 32km course in a time of 1:10.01,1 and are now 7 minutes and 48 seconds in the lead. They were again followed by Hannes Genze and Jochen Kloss in 1;11.34,0 with the team of Sergio Gutierrez Mantecon and Carlos Nicolas Coloma in third place in 1:12.08,0.
It is a first for the Cape Epic's two time trials in the 2011 race.
This was a 32km route through the foothills of Brandwacht. As in 2010, riders traversed the western side of Worcester in this semi-desert environment. Added to last year's route was an extra 5km loop along dual tracks past the local golf course. The route data showed 860m of climbing which may not seem like a lot, but over such a short distance, it still required a hard effort.
Sauser and Stander maintain their overall lead with a time of 15:44.14,9. In second position overall are Hannes Genze and Jochen Kloss in 15:52.03,3, followed by the team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm in 15:55.53,8. In fourth place overall are the team of Urs Huber and Konny Looser who finished in fifth place today (16:11.01,0), with Nicolas Vermeulen and Kevin van Hoovels in fifth place overall (16:13.29,8). They finished in 8th place today.
Stander said: "This is the first day in this year's Cape Epic that I really felt good and had good legs. I didn't need to rely on Christoph and could finally push him as he has done with me the last couple of days, putting me through the paces. It's also nice that we a have a bit more time today to recover ahead of the last two long stages.
"We've extended our lead but it's hard to say what'll happen in the next three days."
Sauser added " We've learnt that it's never good for me to think I'm going to have a nice racing day. We caught up with Genze and Kloss in the big downhill, rode together for a bit and in the next uphill pulled away. It's always a cool feeling catching the guys in front. If it's just down to pedalling, we stand a good chance to stay in front, but this race is not like an office job and an 8 minute lead is not a lot."
Hannes Genze reckons his partner Jochen Kloss had a very good day. "I was feeling a bit weak this morning, but Jochen had obviously recovered and pushed the hammer down. After the first kilometre, I thought wow, Jochen is in good form. But luckily after about 10 minutes I also got into a nice rhythm."
The current Spanish Cross Country Champion Sergio Gutierrez Mantecon said: "We're extremely happy with our first podium finish and felt good today. This race is very difficult and the competition is exceptionally fierce with the best riders in the world participating.
"It's also a fantastic atmosphere with the school kids welcoming us at the finish line. It's a fun race and I'm sure we'll be back again."
Mannie Heymans and Adrien Niyonshuti maintain their lead in the African Jersey with an overall time of 16:53.47,3, followed by Paul Cordes and Charles Keey in 17:34.29,0. In third place are Brandon Stewart and Shan Wilson in 17:33.27,9. Heymans and Niyonshuti are now in 10th position overall.
South Africa's Brandon Stewart, riding with Shan Wilson said: "We were quite close to the leading team in the African jersey up to yesterday, but then Shan had two big crashes and we lost some time. We suspect he has a fractured collar bone and broken septum. We took it nice and easy today as tomorrow's stage will be really tough."
Eva Lechner and Nathalie Schneitter won the Ladies Category for the fourth time, finishing in 1:27.16,3 (overall 22:10.54,7), ahead of Sally Bigham and Karien Van Jaarsveld in a time of 1:37.04,1 (overall 21:02.18,7). In third place were Naomi Hansen and Jodie Willett in 1:37.54,8 (overall 21:59.55,5) with Hanlie Booyens and Ischen Stopforth in fourth (1:40.41,3; overall 21:28.02,4). Bigham and Van Jaarsveld lead this category by 25 minutes and 43 seconds. The team of Carsten Bresser and Udo Boelts won the time trail stage in 1:18.14,0 (overall 17:23.48,2), followed by Adrian Enthoven and Gerrie Beukes in a time of 1:22.33,8 (overall 18:34.53,1). In third place were Robert Sim and Doug Brown in 1:22.44,3 (overall 18:10.07,1). Sim and Brown are still in second place overall in this category.
The team of Barti Bucher and Esther Süss again won the Mixed category in 1:23.26,7 (overall 18:52.47,1), again followed by Erik Kleinhans and Ariane in 1:27.44,0 (overall 19:35.19,2). Ivonne Kraft and Peter Vesel finished in third place today in 1:29.00,7.