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From delight to despair, from a certain win to defeat. If bad luck comes in threes then Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy have had their fill of it in just four days of the 10th Absa Cape Epic.
Yesterday was perhaps the most devastating piece of luck for the Burry Stander-Songo One team.
With just two kilometres left and with a gap of around two minutes on the Team Bulls One pair of Karl Platt and Urs Huber, the race leaders, they turned left when they should have gone straight and rode off the course, losing their way. By the time they rode back to the course, Platt and Huber had flown past and won, although they didn’t know they had taken their second stage win in a row.
“The Specialized guys are so unlucky,” said Platt, who won by 46 seconds. “They’ve flatted, they broke the chain and they took the wrong turn. It’s a pity for them.
“They were trying very hard today. They put the hammer down. I knew today they would try, and Christoph said they would try every day. It’s not going to be easy for us. It’s going to be tough. When we crossed the finish line we thought we were second.
“My team manager said to me, ‘Hey, what did you do?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘They are not here.’ I said, ‘Oh! Cool’.”
They were hardly cool in their celebrations, hugging and shouting in celebration when they were told. For Sauser, the defending champion, the loss was disappointing, but not devastating.
“We had a solid lead, two or three minutes with only two kays to go,” said Sauser. “We come so fast around this corner, and there was a 90 degree bend, and the arrow points to the left, so we went left. Just when we got back to the corner, we saw the Bulls go past.
“Exactly the same thing happened to me at the Nashua Grape Escape. It’s just s**t. We’re the strongest team here. Now we’ve lost time again 2km before the finish. It’s very frustrating. Instead of closing the gap to two or three minutes, we lose more time.”
They are now eight minutes and 49 seconds down on Bulls, who had two teams on the podium yesterday when Thomas Dietsch and Tom Boehme took third ahead of the increasingly impressive SA pair of Darren Lill and Charles Keey (Cannondale-Blend).
Ariane and Erik Kleinhans (Team RE.CM) took their fourth win in a row at this year’s Epic, as they moved one step closer to defending their mixed category title.
They were 3:12.3 ahead of Theresa Ralph and Damian Perrin (Biogen Britehouse) on the stage, and now lead them on the general classification by an hour and 41 minutes.
“That was nice riding. It’s fun and technical, and you have to work. There was quite a bit of single track,” said Erik.
“There was tough competition from Theresa and Damian. Every time after the second or third water point we rode away from them, though.
“There were big bunches today. It’s a difficult thing because you don’t know what to do. Today was difficult because there is a lot of dust, and also in the single track, if people fall off you get stuck behind them. so I told Ariane we should ride on the front so we’re not eating dust all the time.”
Yolande Speedy and Catherine Williamson (Energas) won the ladies category but neither was the first woman over the line – that honour went to Jane Nuessli (BMC), now riding by herself after illness forced her partner, Esther Suss, to pull out. - Cape Argus