Worcester - A transition stage on the Absa Cape Epic – from one race village host
town to another – is sometimes regarded as being easier, but
Wednesday’s 128km Stage 3 from Elgin Valley to Worcester was “very rough
and really sandy”, according to race leader Christoph Sauser.
Riders further back in the field also spent several hours battling in
baking heat as the temperature steadily ticked up towards the 30ºC
Swiss Sauser and his Czech partner Jaroslav Kulhavy
(Investec-Songo-Specialized) were again imperious at the front of the
field, powering away on the last 15km to register a 25 second win and
extend their overall lead to more than seven minutes. It was their third
stage win in succession and Sauser looks increasingly likely to become
the first person to win the event five times.
Kulhavy’s rear tyre developed a slow leak midway on the ride, but
they “bombed” it – pumped it with a canister containing compressed CO2 –
and replaced the tyre at Water Point 2.
A dust-caked Kristian Hynek of the Czech Republic, who finished
second with Austrian Alban Lakata (Topeak Ergon), said immediately after
finishing that the course was a “really tough one … I thought a
transition might be easier”.
“Today was really close and it’s still an open race,” he added. “We’re fighting, we’re really strong and we’re good climbers.”
Asked about the difference in this year’s race compared to last year, Hynek said simply: “Jaro is a game changer”.
The Topeak Ergon pair moved up into second position overall as the
Bulls – four time winner Karl Platt of Germany and Switzerland’s Urs
Huber – dropped from second to fourth after some bad luck. Platt had
punctured badly a couple of kilometres from Water Point 3 and ended up
riding on his rim to the tech zone and a spare wheel.
“I think we lost about three-and-a-half minutes there,” said Platt.
They also lost contact with the front group and by the end were nearly
seven minutes back from Sauser.
Multivan Merida’s Jose Hermida of Spain and Rudi van Houts of the
Netherlands also moved past the Bulls into the top three in spite of the
former suffering from stomach problems.
A notable performance yesterday was that of Topeak Ergon support team
Robert Mennen (Germany) and Jeremiah Bishop (USA), who finished third
overall. The American said later that they had helped Lakata get back to
the front group when he dropped back and “we rode our hearts out”.
Meanwhile, there was a change in the race for the red Absa African
special jersey – for the first team from the continent to win – when
RED-E Blend’s Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock finished sixth overall.
They now lead from Scott Factory Racing’s Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes
and USN’s Rourke Croeser and Travis Walker, who have worn the red
jersey for all three stages so far.
Thursday’s Stage 4 is a 111km loop, starting and finishing in
Worcester, and during which riders will gain a total of 2 000 vertical
metres. It also promises to be a rugged affair.
Men’s category Stage 3 results
1. Investec-Songo-Specialized 2-1 Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) 2-2 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) 5:01.17,2
2. Topeak Ergon 1-1 Kristian Hynek (Czech Republic) 1-2 Alban Lakata (Austria) 5:01.43,0 +25,8
3. Topeak Ergon 2 8-1 Robert Mennen (Germany) 8-2 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) 5:03.29,0 +2.11,8
Men’s Overall after Stage 3
1. Investec-Songo-Specialized 2-1 Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) 2-2 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) 14:42.29,8
2. Topeak Ergon 1-1 Kristian Hynek (Czech Republic)1-2 Alban Lakata (Austria) 14:49.51,7 +7.21,9
3. Multivan Merida 6-1 Jose Hermida (Spain) 6-2 Rudi van Houts (Netherlands) 14:53.22,1 +10.52,3
4. Bulls 4-1 Karl Platt (Germany) 4-2 Urs Huber (Switzerland)14:56.02,9 +13.33,1
5. Novus OMX Pro 23-1 Martin Gujan (Switzerland) 23-2 Fabian Giger (Switzerland) 15:16.40,3 +34.10,5
6. Meerendal Centurion Vaude 5-1 Jochen Kaess (Germany) 5-2 Daniel Geismayr (Austria)15:24.44,1 +42.14,3
7. RED-E Blend 36-1 Darren Lill (South Africa) 36-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 15:27.22,6 +44.52,8
8. Scott Factory Racing 7-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 7-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 15:33.50,7 +51.20,9
9. USN 11-1 Rourke Croeser (South Africa) 11-2 Travis Walker (South Africa) 15:35.25,4 +52.55,6
10. EAI South Africa 33-1 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 33-2 Johann Rabie (South Africa) 15:38.46,4 +56