This was proven by the brilliant way in which Phillimon Sebona and Prince Maseko (Exxaro PWC Academy) outwitted, as well as out-powered, their rivals to win the development category of the Epic’s second, and longest (145km), stage from Citrusdal to Tulbagh. Their winning time was 6 hours 58 minutes and 01 second.

William Mokgopo and Luke Mashiane (Exxaro Deutsche Bank Academy) finished second in 7:06:08 and Jan Motshioa and Thokozani Mahlangu (Exxaro Accenture Academy) were third in 7:07:47.

Azukile Simayile and Sipho Madolo (Exxaro RMB Academy), winners of the first stage and also winners of last year’s inaugural Exxaro Development competition, were fourth in 7:11:25.

Sebona and Maseko certainly managed to turn things around. After stage one, they were nine minutes behind Simayile and Madolo and third overall in the development category.

They now have a lead of roughly four minutes on Simayile and Madolo and are seven minutes ahead of Mokgopo and Mashiane.

Notwithstanding their good performance, Sebona refuses to take anything for granted. “There are still five days of racing left and I fully realise that anything can still happen. Remember this is mountain biking. The biggest challenge for Prince and me during the third stage will be not to get over-eager and do something foolish. That will be a sure way to undo our big effort in stage two. This definitely also means no ‘cowboy stunts’."

“The secret of our success in the second stage was that we were patient. We purposely rode at a fast but consistent pace. You can say that we were like slow poison and this enabled us to take the lead after 96km.”

Sebona said they would love to protect their 50th position in the pro-elite men’s category. “With a little bit of luck we might even be able to finish in the top 40 in the pro-elite category, but I don’t want to talk too much about that now.”

Mokgopo, who is studying sports science at the University of Johannesburg, was more or less satisfied with the way the second stage played out. “We had a good race for approximately 90 kilometres. Unfortunately for me, the knee I injured when crashing during stage one became a bit of a handicap. I could never stand up to pedal because it hurt too much, so I had to sit and pedal throughout.”

Mokgopo crashed on Monday on a rocky downhill section when the rider in front of him lost a water bottle.

CITRUSDAL - Exxaro Academy riders during stage 2 of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Citrusdal to Tulbagh, South Africa on the 19 March 2013

Photo by Gary Perkin/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

As luck would have it, the bottle bounced up and hit Makgopo's front wheel while he was racing into a slight corner. “I lost control and went down hard. My shoulder and knee took most of the impact, but I am confident that it will not become too big a problem. The way matters stand at the moment, is actually exciting. The Exxaro jersey is still there for anyone to take.”

The 18-year-old Mashiane was full of praise for the calming influence Makgopo had on him throughout the stage. To be honest, I did not have the best of legs, but because I raced with William, I never panicked.”

According to Mashiane, he knows that he will feel like a champion when they reach Lourensford, no matter in what position they are. "This is my first Epic and I just want to learn as much as possible.”

Simayile and Madolo had one of those days when they just could not do anything right.

Madolo, in particular, appeared to experience strain throughout the stage.

The men’s category of Stage 2 of the Absa Cape Epic 2013 was won by the Bulls team, consisting of Karl Platt and Urs Huber, in 5:35.32,1. Platt has won the event four times and this was the thirteenth Absa Cape Epic stage win of his career. They were followed by the Bulls 2 team, consisting of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme, in 5:41.20,6 with Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy of Burry Stander – SONGO in third place (5:44.16,2). Yesterday’s winners, José Hermida and Rudi van Houts, finished in fifth place in 5:47.00,4.

Platt and Huber (Bulls) now lead the men’s category by 6 minutes and 23 seconds (11:05,08,4). Dietsch and Boehme (Bulls 2) are in second place overall (11:11.31,4) and Sauser and Kulhavy (Burry Stander – SONGO) are third in 11:13.12,3. Multivan Merida’s José Hermida and Rudi van Houts are in fourth place overall (11:14.14,2).