Cape Town – South African Philip Buys won his second stage of the 2014 Absa Cape Epic with his Swiss partner Nino Schurter (Team Scott-Odlo).
Overall leaders Robert Mennen and Kristian Hynek (Topeak-Ergon) finished the 88km sixth stage in second place and, barring disaster, should be wearing yellow when the race finishes at Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West Sunday.
Hynek benefited from an act of sportsmanship for the second day running when he picked up a bad puncture only five kilometres from the start.
Again fellow professionals Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kaess (Centurion-Vaude) – out of the race for overall honours after a disastrous day on Tuesday’s second stage – stopped and donated a wheel.
The rapid change of tyres meant Hynek and Mennen could chase and ultimately catch up to their general classification competitors.
“Another stage, another flat, another drama,” Hynek said after the day's racing.
“This time it happened on a gravel section... the tyre was cut. We got great, great help from Centurion-Vaude.”
“I must actually apologise because we took their chance of a stage win,” Mennen added.
“We’ll have to do something big for them.”
Buys and Schurter blitzed the stage, which started and finished at Oak Valley, Elgin, and went through many of the best singletrack sections in the Western Cape, in 3:34.51,2, finishing nearly six minutes ahead of the yellow jersey-wearers.
“On the singletracks we work well together, but I suffer quite a lot on the climbs,” Buys said of his race.
Pre-race favourite and four-times winner Christoph Sauser of Switzerland and his Czech partner Christoph Rabon (Meerendal Songo Specialized) were third, another 34 seconds back.
They remain in second overall but are more than 10 minutes back with only Sunday’s 68km stage to come Ä a margin that they are unlikely to bridge unless the leading team runs into serious trouble.
Sauser revealed that he and Rabon would attack from the start on Sunday, but Hynek went for a slightly more conservative approach, admitting that an overall win would be the main focus, and not a stage victory.
“It would be beautiful to win at Lourensford, but there is no reason to take risks. The yellow jersey is our priority,” Hynek said.
Ariane Kleinhans of Switzerland and Annike Langvad of Denmark (RECM 2) seem likely winners of the women’s category after another commanding performance on Saturday.
The pair finished in 4:12.44,0 Ä 10 minutes ahead of their nearest rivals Esther Suss, another Swiss, and Sally Bigham of England (Meerendal).
Kleinhans and Langvad’s overall lead is now 26 minutes. – Sapa