Hermieda, Van Houts win Epic prologue

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iol spt mar23 Sauser Karin Schermbrucker/SPORTZPICS 2013 winner Christoph Sauser and partner, Frantisek Rabon make their way through Meerendal wine farm during the Prologue of the 2014 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville outside Cape Town, South Africa on the 23 March 2014.Photo by Karin Schermbrucker/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Cape Town – Spaniard Jose Hermida and his Dutch partner Rudi van Houts (Team Multivan Merida) grabbed a thrilling 14 second win in the Cape Epic prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate on Sunday, while some of the cycling favourites faltered.

The 23km time trial results suggest the race is going to be one of the closest in years.

Hermida and Van Houts squeezed home in 59 minutes and 8 seconds (59:08), second place went to Swiss pair Lukas Fluckiger and Martin Fanger (BMC) while German Robert Mennen and his Czech teammate Kristian Hynek (Topeak-Ergon) finished third.

Race favourites German Karl Platt and Swiss Urs Huber (Bulls) finished sixth, more than two minutes off the pace while Swiss Christoph Sauser and his Czech partner (Meerendal Songo Specialized) were ninth, more than three minutes behind the winners.

South African podium hopefuls Kevin Evans and Max Knox (FedGroup Itec) finished seventh.

The women’s race was comfortably won by RECM - Swiss Ariane Kleinhans and Dane Annika Langvad - in spite of the latter crashing badly as the course took them down some steps outside the Meerendal Manor House.

They finished in 1:10.07, more than two minutes ahead of nearest challengers Esther Suss and Sally Bigham (Meerendal).

Third finishers were Jennie Stenerhag of Sweden and her South African partner Theresa Ralph, who were more than five minutes off the pace. – Sapa

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