It was the fifth stage win in a row for Mlangeni and Tlous, who extended their overall lead to 45 minutes over Luyanda Thobigunya and Baphelele Mbobo (BMT Fairtree Academy), who were second on the stage. Khumbudzo Masala and Kagiso Tlous (Exxaro / EOH), who were fourth, remain in third overall. Rilamulele Gadabeni and Patrick Rengane (Exxaro / RMB) rounded off the Stage 4 podium.

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Lucky Mlangeni and Tshepo Tlou of team Exxaro / PWC 1 during stage 4 of the 2018 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from HTS Drostdy in Worcester to Huguenot High School in Wellington, South Africa on the 22nd March 2018. Photo by Andrew McFadden/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

“To celebrate my birthday with my partner by winning a stage is very special,” said Mlangeni, who is taking part in his sixth Absa Cape Epic. “I knew that we would have a good chance today, because me and him are that strong. We came here to win the jersey. We have trained hard and work very well together. Now we just need to keep it going and not make any mistakes.”

“Lucky and I are working very well together,” said Tlous. “It was a tricky stage with more technical sections, but we went a little slower to avoid getting any snakebites on our tyres. Finishing each day is the most important thing.

“Last year we wanted to win the jersey, but because of my fall, we didn’t. Lucky gave me a chance to ride with him again because he said he believed we could win the jersey. And here we are, fixing what we didn’t do last year. We know we are in a good position, with plenty of time ahead, but we need to make sure that we are steady and strong all the way to the end.”

Nicky Giliomee and Brennan Anderson (Journey by Junto) took their second stage win in two days to move into the overall lead of the Virgin Active Mixed category. They are now almost 28 minutes ahead of the Team Merida Argentina pair of Agustina Maria Apaza and Cesar Lettoli, who finished third for the second day, having dominated early on, winning the first three stages.

Yolandi du Toit and Gus Klohn (Garmin Powerbar Mixed) took second place and have cut the gap to themselves and the Argentinians to just 14 minutes. Apaza and Lettoli had a hard day in the heat of the stage from Worcester to Wellington and are possibly paying for their efforts in the first three days.