Cape Town - Alban
“The Albanator” Lakata cut a lonely figure as he completed Stage 4 of the Absa
Cape Epic on Thursday - yet another quest to win a coveted Epic title
His Topeak Ergon Racing team-mate, the Czech Republic’s
Kristian Hynek, crashed about 5km before the finish of Wednesday’s
Hynek started the stage on Thursday but pulled out before the first
water point, leaving Lakata to continue on his own - leaving him to start as an
Outcast on Stage 5 tomorrow, the status given to an elite rider whose partner
and Hynek had gone into the race favourites after finishing last year’s
event in second place.
Epic history had him making his way to the top of the podium with results that include:
6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd in the race. He was just missing the Epic crown. But
it was not to be.
required stitches on his elbow from a deep gash he sustained in the crash. He
fell on his side and his ribs were also painful.
team were in third place when Hynek withdraw, but have suffered a string of
misfortunes, including wheel troubles for Lakata on the Prologue, a shoe
malfunction for Hynek forcing him to swap shoes with his back-up team member
Erik Kleinhans, on Stage 2, and Hynek’s race-ending crash
on Stage 3.
was only Stage 1 that proved incident-free with the pair finishing strong in
second place, a mere 38 seconds behind the Bulls. At the press conference
later, they looked composed and it seemed they would be the only team able to
topple the rampant Bulls.
won the Epic in 2014 but rode with Germany’s
Robert Mennen, who was called up at the last minute because Lakata snapped his
Achilles tendon in a skiing accident.
he crossed the line on Thursday, Lakata, the 2015 Cross Country Marathon World
Champion and six-time Austrian national champion, was visibly disappointed. He
said it felt that he was doomed never to win the Epic.
“This race is so
difficult, and anything can happen. It has been really tricky this year because
been so dusty - you can’t see where you’re going,” he said.
more taxing to ride in front, but at least you have a cleaner line.”
had ridden alone behind the leading group on Thursday because he did not to
interfere with the racing- besides, he added, “it’s
difficult to find motivation when you’ve lost your
partner - but it’s
not his fault”.
said he had chatted with Hynek before the start of the stage and the two had
resolved to come back next year - stronger, more prepared, and hopefully with
luck going their way.