The weather was not favorable with light spots of rain and jackets were donned again but the temperature was comfortable.

Starting in C group again today we left Arabella for the last time and headed out on zig-zag of farm roads until turning onto a tar road straight into a headwind. A Peloton formed immediately and riders sheltered themselves, the tar eventually turning onto undulating district road and the first 18km over in a flash.


Image credit: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

We now joined fast flowing jeep track that was littered with sharp rocks and shale washouts, in between some fast kilometers were a few short but steep hills that made sure all the leg muscle groups were all working. Unfortunately I had to stop a few times to inflate my rear wheel as it had developed a slow leak. In the back of my head, losing time.

We had been climbing steadily for 40kms now and we had more district road in store, I looked around the group for my partner and dismay. I thought he was behind me but he was nowhere to be seen. I stopped for a short while worried that he might have had a technical issue but moved along after a brief wait. I carried on slowly on district, tar and farm road until I found him at water point 1.


Image credit: Emma Harrop/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Back together we rushed through the water point and headed along some grassy tracks to a steep rocky climb, on the other side a super fast dual track descent that rushed us down the mountain side. Loose rocks and really deep washouts in the middle of the tracks making use of all our concentration and reactions but this section was so much fun and went on for an age.

After the descent we followed farm roads that traversed the farms around the Riviersonderend area, again climbing constantly but the pace was fast and pelotons formed to fight another very stiff headwind.

The group swelled and diminished over the next 10km as we crossed grassy farm roads, more district road and then entered waterpoint 2.

My partner’s shifters were troubling him again so a quick visit to neutral support, a glass of coke and some water, no un-tested bars for me thanks and we were on the road again.

The next 20km were fast and mostly flat until were guided into an short forest section of sandy single track to the river crossing of the day, waist deep and rocky we had to use a cable to navigate our way the fast flowing Riviersonderend.


Image credit: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

A few hundred meters of sandy singletrack claimed a couple of front wheels with some incidental falls until a maze of animal pens took us onto a fast tarred kilometer to water point 3.

Small groups formed now as we picked up some slower riders and faster ones joined us, you could sense everyone was weary but the group worked well to combat the nasty wind that flowed straight into our faces along wide smooth farm roads.

You could also pick up that everyone was anticipating the final sting in the tail that the route briefing had warned us about, with only 6km to go the road swung left and up. It was short but sharp climb that tested 128km old legs to the max and my partner and I emerged victorious as we topped ahead of the group.

A few kilometers of single track looped the hillside a couple of times and then down into the finish area at Oak Valley.

134km in the saddle in just over 7hrs, a little disappointing as we lost time to a slow puncture and also the slow pace while trying to find my partner.

This can be tagged a mountain bike stage for the roadies but not an easy day as the distance is sure to take its toll.


Image credit: Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS