Stander, Sauser beaten | SASCOC - SASCOC

Stander, Sauser beaten

Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser tasted defeat for the first time in this year’s Absa Cape Epic cycle race when they lost out in a sprint finish on the third stage in Worcester on Wednesday.

The South African/Swiss combination had won the prologue and the first two stages until that point but on Wednesday the 36ONE Songo Specialized combination were beaten by Germans Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss of the Multivan Merida Biking team.

The winning margin was just 2.8 seconds but Stander and Sauser still have an overall lead of 6min 15sec. Three time winners Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (Bulls) are fourth overall, 8:32 behind them.

Genze and Kass took 5hr 06min 33sec to cover the 125km trek from Tulbagh to Worcerster, which involved 1900m of climbing.

K├ñss says it was a great day for them. ÔÇ£About 20km from the finish, we broke away from the Bulls team and carried on riding with Sauser and Stander. We’re extremely happy with our stage win. I trained differently to previous winters and it obviously worked. We’re in good shape. This stage win is excellent motivation for us to perhaps finish on the podium on Sunday and perhaps we can even finish in second place overall.ÔÇØ

Genze added: ÔÇ£Today was my best day so far and Jochen was also feeling strong. I wasn’t feeling great on the uphill during the middle of the race, but near the end decided that I still had some energy left as I saved a bit yesterday which stood us in good stead today. Also, Susi (Christoph Sauser) and Stander didn’t push for the stage win. Bart was riding very well today ÔÇô his partner is a roadie (Jeroen Boelen) and roadies always want to attack to win stages. They attacked shortly before water point two, but I think they spent too much energy alone on the tar, so we could close the gap again.ÔÇØ

Said Stander: ÔÇ£We’re happy with our overall result and weren’t fighting for the stage win. We’re ahead of the Bulls overall. We stayed with the Multivan Merida Biking team and they broke away in the last 2km. We let them know if you want to win a stage, you have to earn it. This stage was very hard ÔÇô I’ve never experienced something so tough. It was five hours of pain and at one point I couldn’t feel my hands or feet. There were rocks everywhere and the first 50km felt like we’ll be riding all day. Eventually we hit the tar. I take my hat off to anyone who finishes this stage!ÔÇØ

Mannie Heymans and Adrien Niyonshuti (team Garmin adidas MTN) are the leaders in the African Jersey with an overall time of 15:34.00,8, followed by Paul Cordes and Charles Keey (MTN/Qhubeka) in 16:12.51,6. In third place are Brandon Stewart and Shan Wilson (Toyota DCM) in 16:15.09,6.

In the women’s category Tuesday’s leading team Eva Lechner and Nathalie Schneitter (team Colnago Arreghini S├╝dtirol) received a time penalty of one hour. They were penalised for breaking rule 23.1 and 23.4 of the Absa Cape Epic which states that riders are not allowed any outside assistance with regards to spares, equipment and nutrition.

Sally Bigham and Karien Van Jaarsveld (team USN) were in the leader jersey out of Tulbagh on Wednesday morning and proved their competence by also winning stage three in a time of 6:43.35 (overall 19:25.14). They were followed by Hanlie Booyens and Ischen Stopforth of Absa aBreast in 6:48.40,6 (overall 19:47.21,1) with their first podium finish, ahead of Naomi Hansen and Jodie Willett of adidas who finished third in 6:55.45 (overall 20:22.00). Lechner and Schneitter still lead by 22min 6sec.

Van Jaarsveld said: ÔÇ£It was a really long stage, but even though we were in the Leader jersey, we stayed within our strategy and were racing our own race. We’re both endurance riders and the other team’s penalty didn’t change anything for us. We just kept doing what we set out to do. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s shorter stage ÔÇô the time trial. Our plan is to stay consistent. We’ve had immense support from everyone when we were told we’d be wearing the Leader jersey and we also behaved like leaders today. We’re still riding quite conservatively, looking after ourselves and our equipment. We have a nice lead and don’t need to take risks.ÔÇØ

Team-mate Bigham added: ÔÇ£I don’t know how to feel about having the Leader jersey because I’m not sure how it happened. I’d want to be in the Leader jersey because we’re the strongest team, but I also firmly believe in sticking to rules. If it’s true that they didn’t stop at the water points, they (Eva Lechner and Nathalie Schneitter) saved a lot of time because it takes us at least two minutes at each water point, which adds up to six minutes per day in total. Having won today was really nice though and I’m really pleased. It was a tough stage and lived up to the Absa Cape Epic’s reputation. It definitely is the hardest race I’ve ever done and I’ve done quite a lot. We’re halfway and I look forward to starting later tomorrow ÔÇô we can rest, eat and recover a bit.ÔÇØ

Meanwhile ex-Springbok rugby prop Adrian Garvey continues to battle on with Team Toyota team-mate Brian Osborne. On Wednesday they clcoked 8:38 to end 182nd in the men’s category and have now been in the saddle for a total of 25hr 43min.

Thursday’s stage brings some sense of relief in the fact that it’s only 32km, albeit with 800m of climbing. It’s a route through the foothills of Brandwacht, Worcester. Taking the form of a time trial, the top teams leave at one-minute intervals, racing against the clock.