Taylor takes the lead | SASCOC - SASCOC

Taylor takes the lead

Multiple South African road cycling champion, Cherise Taylor (Team USN), showed her versatility when she won Stage Two and took the overall lead in the Columbia Grape Escape mountain bike stage race in Franschhoek on Saturday.

The 21-year-old Taylor finished the 78 kilometre stage in a time of three hours 36 minutes and 40 seconds to move ahead of overnight leader and seasoned veteran, Hanele Steyn-Kotze (Attix5 Ladies) on an exceptionally hot stage that started at Nelson Wine Estate and finished at Boschendal Wine Estate.

Like many of the more than 700 participants in the prestigious three-day race, Taylor experienced a number of punctures on Stage One. But she had a problem-free second stage from a mechanical perspective and only stopped to douse herself with water.

ÔÇ£I put extra sealant in my tyres after yesterday’s stage, where I had at least four puncture incidents. Today I made a point of keeping my core temperature down and stopped at water points to pour water over my head. It definitely helps!ÔÇØ explained Taylor.

Taylor was more than seven minutes faster than Steyn-Kotze on Saturday, erasing the three-minute deficit after the first stage and giving Taylor a four-minute lead with one stage remaining. Hanlie Booyens, multiple Cape Epic stage winner, was third on Stage 2 and holds third place overall.

ÔÇ£I’m very impressed with how strong Hannele still is. I was only able to really put time into her in the last 15km,ÔÇØ said Taylor of her main rival.

In the men’s race, Germany’s four-time ABSA Cape Epic champion, Karl Platt (Team Bulls) outsprinted current South African cross-country champion, Burry Stander (Specialized USN) and current South African marathon champion, Kevin Evans (Team 360Life) to win his second consecutive stage and maintain his narrow lead over Evans on the General Classification.

Sunday’s third and final stage is a 67km loop that starts and finishes at Boschendal Wine Estate. It’s expected to be tougher than Saturday’s stage as it includes a similar amount of climbing in a shorter distance, with more hot weather.

Columbia Grape Escape
Stage Two (78km)
Leading results

1 Cherise Taylor (Team USN) 03hr 36min 40sec
2 Hannele Steyn-Kotze (Attix5 Ladies) @ 7min 33sec
3 Hanlie Booyens @ 20min 03sec

General Classification after Stage Two:
1 Cherise Taylor (Team USN) 07hr 12min 38sec
2 Hannele Steyn-Kotze (Attix5 Ladies) @ 4min 23sec
3 Hanlie Booyens @ 36min 50sec