After the lengthy 135km queen stage yesterday, it was a slightly shorter challenge as the field continued their seven-day, 690km journey from Knysna to Franschhoek.
The 47-year-old Stelling, who is from Sea Point in Cape Town, completed the 81km in 3:09:12 to move into second overall on an aggregate time of 13:08:34.
Belgian Karl Dossche held on to his overall lead after finishing second on the day in 3:19:38 (12:59:16).
Third went to Willem Tollig in 3:19:53, but Alan Tilling’s ride of 3:26:02 (13:18:42) keeps him in third overall.
Stelling injured his rib last Monday in an incident while moving house and said he almost did not make it to the start line.
“However, I decided I would ride and have been taking a cocktail of tablets to manage the pain,” he said.
“On the first day I just rode with a couple of mates and took it easy, but yesterday, because of the longer stage, I got into a faster group.
“Even though I have not set myself a goal, today I wanted to race a bit harder as well.”
Stelling said he would not put any pressure on himself and would just take it day by day to see how it all panned out.
“The rib was a bit sore initially, but I have managed to alleviate the pain somewhat and it’s not feeling as bad as on the opening stage.”
Stelling described the TransCape as a “brilliant journey”.
“It is one of the top three races in my book. The atmosphere is great, the accommodation is fantastic and the food is brilliant.
“I ride mountain bike races for the soulful experience and the vibe on this one is up there with the best.”
Overnight leaders in the men’s team category, Pieter Seyffert and Travis Walker, raced to their third consecutive stage victory in 2:54:56 (11:45:06) to consolidate their position at the top of the standings.
Belgians Eddy Feliers and Kristof de Neys, who represent Cicero Baik, held on to second overall with their ride of 3:16:25 (12:39:50).
Third on the day went to Bromance’s David and William Wertheim Aymes in 3:19:52 (12:47:47), the same position they occupy in the overall situation.
Ellsworth-ASG’s Seyffert said the race was proving an excellent examination of his new partnership with the 25-year-old Walker from Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal.
“The first two days were a big test for us because we have different styles of riding,” said the 30-year-old from Helderkruin on the West Rand.
“I don’t start the climbs as quickly as he does. He has speed while I try to keep it constant and then go harder over the top.
“So he has now seen what my riding style is and I’ve experienced his,” said Seyffert.
“They say you race like you train, so this is a very good opportunity to see how we gel and it is the best way to get to know each other.”
Women’s pair Catherine Williamson and Hannele Steyn, who have opted to compete in the mixed category, won the stage in 3:09:13 ahead of Ian and Jane Seggie in 3:48:21 and Matthias and Denise Kubli in 4:07:13.
Williamson and Steyn, who race for Spar, now lead the overall standings on 12:32:37, followed by the Seggies on 15:13:21 and the Kublis on 15:47:26.
In the women’s solo category, Alma Colyn continued to extend her lead at the top of the standings when she crossed the line first in 3:19:55 (13:00:59).
Second and third went to Mandy Langebrink in 3:44:23 (14:50:03) and Chandre Wertheim Aymes in 4:02:00 (17:13:41) respectively.