fast little loans
If, as Bobby Behan of Team Specialized said a few years back, the Absa Cape Epic should be decided by legs doing the talking, then the Burry Stander-Songo-Info team of Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy are all but champions elect for the 10th anniversary of the race after they took the fifth stage yesterday.
They are, by common assent, the strongest team at the Epic. Yet, anything can happen at this race, and it has happened this week. Sauser and Kulhavy now have three minutes and 43,3 seconds as an overall lead on the Team Bulls pair of Karl Platt and Urs Huber after they destroyed the field with yet another emphatic performance.
The Bulls were third on the stage, 2:32 behind Sauser and Kulhavy, with Scott-Swisspower’s Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel finally getting on to the podium with second.
It took but a scratch on the surface to discover just how much the Epic meant to the top contenders yesterday. Just under the handshakes, the congratulations and the praise after the short and sharp fifth stage, sat the lingering resentment, from both sides, at the decision to reinstate-penalise the two Bulls teams and Multivan Merida after they took a wrong turn and followed the markers for yesterday’s route on Wednesday’s stage.
Immediately after they had finished, José Hermida (Multivan Merida) and Platt were talking amongst themselves in the winner’s circle about how the route had been a little different today and about how they believed the route markers were more prominent today (Friday) than yesterday (Thursday).
It is understood that both Bulls and Merida were upset by the tweet from Sauser that called them “criers” on Thursday, but the Swiss three-time champion of the Epic was not backing down yesterday. The decision to “award the first of the three teams in question the winning time plus 10 minutes”, as the statement read, did not sit well with the defending champion.
“No, I’m not okay with it because if you make one mistake at the Epic you have to deal with the consequences,” said Sauser. “It’s your mistake if you go off the route, and whatever happens afterwards, that’s your problem. We went wrong (on the third stage), didn’t think about lodging a protest. We want to win the race pedalling and not with protests on paper.”
Platt had more words with the race organisers about the route markings behind the scenes, but preferred not to talk about it on the record as he, too, wants the race to be won “pedalling”. He was full of admiration for the strength of the Burry Stander-Songo team, with his teammate describing Kulhavy, the gold medal winner at the 2012 Olympics, as being stronger than “two or three teams together”.
“Like Urs said, the competition is much harder than last year especially with Kulhavy,” said Platt. “He’s so strong on the flats. It’s like a train going and if you miss the train you can’t come back. We tried really hard, but even in the feed zone, we’d get to within 20, 30 metres of them, and when we went out there was a flat part and then we’d be (makes an exploding noise with chicken wing action).”
It will, he admitted, take a mistake by Burry Stander-Songo to make up the time on them, said Platt. This has been an Epic of mistakes and misfortune, and perhaps there is more to come.
Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes (Scott Factory Racing) took the Absa African Leader from Charles Keey and Darren Lill (Cannondale-Blend), after finishing seventh on the stage. “It was a very nice stage today. We feel very good and I think yesterday’s third place gave us a boost mentally. We just enjoyed today and the single-track, and rode fast and hard,” said Beukes.
Yolande Speedy and Catherine Williamson (Energas) took a fourth stage win on the trot and are well ahead of the second-placed pair of Sara Mertens and Laura Turpijn (C-Bear) by two hours and three minutes. “It wasn’t a lot of fun. It would’ve been more fun if you had fresh legs, but there were so many steep climbs and my legs are shattered,” said Williamson. “It was quite hard. The single-track was really nice and we enjoyed that. The bit in-between was not as nice.”
Ariane and Erik Kleinhans (RE:CM) had to settle for second for the first time in the 2013 edition of the race, when they lost out to Theresa Ralph and Damian Perrin (Biogen Britehouse). Johan Labuschagne and Yolandé de Villiers (Exxaro Cycle Lab) were third, but the biggest cheer of the day was reserved for Cherise Stander and Duane Stander (Africanmtbkid 1) who were in fourth. - The Star