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Former winner Platt and Huber snatch Epic lead
- Updated: March 26, 2014
Four-time ABSA Cape Epic winner Karl Platt of Germany and his Swiss teammate Urs Huber (Team Bulls) overcame a crash and a very muddy stage two of the eight-day mountain bike race to snatch the yellow leaders’ jersey on Tuesday.
They finished second on the day (see picture, right), a little more than two minutes behind a charging Team Topeak-Ergon, Robert Mennen (Germany) and Kristian Hynek (Czech Republic), who completed the 103km stage in 4:12:17.0, reports Sapa. It was enough to give Platt and Huber a one minute and nine seconds lead in the general classification over the Topeak-Ergon pairing.
Riders awoke on Tuesday to a protracted downpour and then battled with more rain and severe mud on the course, a loop which began and ended in Robertson. The gritty mud ground into the working parts of the bicycles, giving rise to several mechanical problems.
Platt said he had a “stupid crash” soon after the start. “It was very slippery out there,” said Platt. “I missed the line [on some single track] and the front wheel went. My motivation went a little bit and I was hurting everywhere, but we are fighters and started to catch up.”
Mennen said conditions had been exceptionally tough and the stage boiled down to “the survival of the fittest”. “Luckily we had good legs and no mechanicals ÔÇô it was our luck today,” he added.
Third home, and five minutes behind the stage winners, were Germans Tim Boehme and Simon Stiebjahn of Teams Bulls 2. They are also lying third in the general classification.
Swiss Christoph Sauser, also chasing a fifth Epic win and riding this year with Czech partner Frantisek Rabon, developed severe brake problems on the route and lost nearly 12 minutes on the Bulls pair. They are now lying sixth overall.
But the biggest losers of the day were overnight yellow jersey holders Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kaess (Centurion Vaude), both of Germany, when the latter’s frame broke. They were not allowed to replace it on the stage and had to make running repairs, eventually finishing one hour and 50 minutes behind the winners in 112th position.
Still in contention for the overall win are the fourth-placed combination of Swiss Kenny Looser and German Hannes Genze, and fifth-placed Swiss pairing Lukas Fluckiger and Martin Fanger (BMC).
Women’s favourites Ariane Kleinhans of Switzerland and Annike Langvad of Denmark (RECM2) recovered brilliantly on Tuesday from a disastrous stage one to take back nearly nine minutes of the 24 they lost to Meerendal’s Esther Suss (Switzerland) and Sally Bigham (England).
Kleinhans and Langvad won Tuesday’s stage in 4:53:07,5. “It was important to not get into any trouble but still be awake to take an opportunity if there was one. Towards the end we gave our all,” said Kleinhans.
Swede Jennie Stenerhag and South Africa’s Theresa Ralph finished third in the women’s category, 19 minutes behind Kleinhans and Langvad.Wednesday’s 134km stage three takes the riders from Robertson to Greyton.
Meanwhile, South African hopes of a podium finisher in the elite men’s category have faltered after two stages, with best-placed locals Max Knox and Kevin Evans (FedGroup Itec) now in eighth overall.
Team RECM’s Erik Kleinhans and Nico Bell were first of the Absa African leaders’ jersey competitors home on the day in 4:25:34,5s and seventh overall, but that performance only moved them up to 14th in the general classification.
Knox and Evans finished ninth Tuesday, a little under two minutes behind the RECM pairing, with Scott Factory Racing’s Matthys Beukes and Gert Heyns in 10th another two minutes back.
Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock of Team Cannondale Blend dropped back after a troubled ride Tuesday ÔÇô they finished 14th, some 14┬áminutes┬ábehind Kleinhans and Bell ÔÇô in spite of their sixth-place finish in Monday’s stage┬áone.
The best-placed local women’s team are Yolande de Villiers and Ischen Stopforth (SasolRacing), in sixth, but South African Theresa Ralph and her Swedish teammate Jennie Stenerhag (Cape Brewing Company) are third overall, about 30 minutes behind the leaders.
South Africans Shan Wilson and Adrian Enthoven continue to lead the master’s category, but are now only five minutes ahead after Dutchman Bart Brentjens and his Brazilian teammate Abraao Azevedo won the category on Tuesday by eight minutes.
Well-known local rider Andrew McLean continues to dominate the grand master’s category with Austrian Heinz Zoerweg (CycleLab Toyota) and are now nearly 48 minutes ahead of second-placed South African Doug Brown and Swiss Barti Bucher (Meerendal Songo Specialized 4).
And in the mixed category Cherise Stander and Theo Blignaut (RECM Mixed) have moved up to second behind Mauritians Yannick Lincoln and Aurelie Halbwachs (Synergy) but are 20 minutes behind.
Results and overall standings after Stage Two
1. Robert Mennen and Kristian Hynek (Topeak-Ergon) 4:12:17.0
2. Karl Platt and Urs Huber (Bulls) 4:13:4.7
3. Tim Boehme and Simon Stiebjahn (Bulls 2) 4:17:19.7
1. Platt and Huber 10:01:55.9
2. Mennen and Hynek 10:03:05.4
3. Boehme and Stiebjahn 10:04:55.6
1. Ariane Kleinhans and Annike Langvad (RECM 2) 4:53:07.5
2. Esther Suss and Sally Bigham (Meerendal) 5:01:53.
3. Jennie Stenerhag and Theresa Ralph (Cape Brewing Company) 5:12:12.4
Photo: Shaun Roy/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS