STELLENBOSCH – Nino Schurter and Lars Forster completed their triumphant march with overall victory in the men’s race of the Absa Cape Epic at Val de Vie Estate on Sunday.
The Scott-Sram MTB-Racing team went into the final stage from Stellenbosch University to Val de Vie Estate with a comfortable eight-minute lead over second-placed Cannondale Factory Racing. This meant they had to watch only Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini to cap off a successful week and claim overall honours at the Cape Epic.
This they did smoothly, giving Schurter his second victory and Forster a golden debut by a margin of 7:36 over Avancini and Fumic.
“This was amazing,” Schurter said. “It’s a really special one to win. It’s really tough to win this race you need to have a lot of good luck and a strong team. We are super stoked about it.”
“Yesterday I was suffering and today I was suffering more,” said Forster. “Luckily I had a strong horse with me who still had some left in the tank.”
Their conservative run to the finish allowed other teams to gun for coveted Grand Finale stage honours. Queen Stage victors Matthys Beukes and Phil Buys of PYGA Euro Steel seized the initiative early, attacking up a climb in Jonkershoek.
In the final stage of the Men's category, KROSS-SPUR claimed the day ahead of @PygaEuroSteel, but the overall honours remained with @scottmtbracing. Read about the day's events and how it ended at @valdevieestate: https://t.co/GpGBKg2cBZ pic.twitter.com/lUpIXo8MAX— Cape Epic (@CapeEpic) March 24, 2019
The only team who could stay with them was Kross-Spur, who had been aggressive all week, winning various Dimension Data Hotspots but to date had been unable to convert that form into a stage win. A win they desperately wanted after being put out of GC contention with mechanical issues on Stage 1.
While CST Sandd, Trek Selle San Marco, both 7C CBZ Wilier teams, SpecializedFoundationNAD as well as the Team Bulls outfits of Heroes and Young Guns were left to chase across a route which featured the best of Jonkershoek, Vuurberg, Boschendal and Val de Vie’s trails, Kross-Spur Racing and the South Africans worked well together all the way to the finish.
Onto Val de Vie Estate and the long final stretch it came down to a bunch sprint, which saw Matthys Beukes cross the line first, but Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez and Ondřej Cink followed closely in second and third, giving them stage honours.
“It was so so close,” said Gutierrez at the finish. “It was the shortest stage but still very tough with lots of singletrack and many climbs.”
“A stage victory is super important,” he added outlining how they had to change their strategy of overall GC aspirations after their disastrous Stage 1 mechanical. “We were super focused on a stage win after that; finally, on the last opportunity on the last stage, we managed that, so it is very special.”
It also proved a special day for Sebastian Fini and Martins Blums of CST Sandd who finished on the stage podium for the first time in the race. As well as SpecializedFoundationNAD’s Alan Hatherly and Matt Beers, who finished sixth on the day doing enough to stay in fifth overall and win the Absa African Men’s Jersey.
1. KROSS-SPUR 14-1 Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Spain) 14-2 Ondřej Cink (Czech Republic) 02:53.07,3
2. PYGA Euro Steel 7-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 7-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 02:53.07,4 +0,1
3. CST Sandd 19-1 Sebastian Fini (Denmark) 19-2 Martins Blums (Latvia) 02:54.02,2 +54,9
1. Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing 4-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 4-2 Lars Forster (Switzerland) 26:09.45,5
2. Cannondale Factory Racing 3-1 Manuel Fumic (Germany) 3-2 Henrique Avancini (Brazil) 26:17.22,4 +7.36,9
3. Trek Selle San Marco 10-1 Damiano Ferraro (Italy) 10-2 Samuele Porro (Italy) 26:26.22,8 +16.37,3
African News Agency (ANA)