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The dusty conditions which marked the early phases of Stage 1 made for beautiful photo opportunities but didn’t make racing mountain bikes particularly easy. Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Their stage time sees their General Classification position slide to 49th overall. With many hard kilometres still ahead though that need not spell the end to Madolo’s hopes of a good overall position when they reach Meerendal on Sunday.

Speaking after the stage Madolo said: "today I did not have the very best day. I had no legs right from the start and I was hoping to get better but my legs only got going in the last 20km. By which time I was tired already. But I had fun at least!”

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A dusty and exhausted Sipho Madolo. Photo by Gary Perkin/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS.

Madolo’s attitude is to always look for the silver lining. Although he would have liked to have ridden the tough singletrack sections of the route faster it’s a mark of his exceptional character that he still managed to enjoy the riding despite not performing to his usual levels.

He’s also very aware of the opportunity to learn first-hand from the King of the Epic. “There is a lot to learn from Christoph everyday” he mused. During Stage 1 the lesson centred on nutrition with Madolo stating: “today was about eating right during the race, on and off the bike, and to be consistent with eating throughout.”

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Christoph Sauser leading a small group of riders on Stage 1 of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic. Photo by Mark Sampson/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Sauser has completed ten Absa Cape Epics and has seen it all; from leading from the Prologue to the Grand Finale with the late Burry Stander in 2012, to struggling through a week beset with mechanicals with Frantisek Rabon in 2014. So it’s no wonder Madolo is confident their fortunes will improve as the Epic progresses. Christoph “is a really good encouraging partner. It’s really cool riding with him and I hope we have a good day” on Stage 2 he concluded.

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Sipho Madolo in action on Stage 1 of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic. Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

You can follow Madolo and Sauser’s progress on Stage 2, which is also the 100th stage in the history of the Absa Cape Epic, by making use of the Cape Epic’s live tracking system, or on Twitter by following @songoinfo and @CapeEpic.