The weather was quite mild today and chilly early in the morning. It was a show of power with Sauser and Kulhavy of Burry Stander – SONGO winning the stage. Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel of Scott-Swisspower MTB-Racing were riding with Sauser and Kulhavy and the gap just grew between them and the other riders. Burry Stander – SONGO eventually dropped them too and proved that they were the strongest team in the race.

Christoph Sauser and Joroslav Kulhavy of Burry Stander-SONGO celebrate after winning stage 5 during stage 5 of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Wellington, South Africa on the 22 March 2013

Photo by Shaun Roy/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Men’s Category

Stage 5 was again won by Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy of Burry Stander – SONGO in 3:03.04,1. It is their third stage win in this year’s Absa Cape Epic and Sauser’s 29th stage win in the history of the event. They were followed by Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel of Scott-Swisspower MTB-Racing in 3:05.19,0 with their first podium finish. The Bulls Karl Platt and Urs Huber finished in third place in 3:05.35,3, with Cannondale Factory Racing’s Marco Fontana and Manuel Fumic in fourth place (3:09.10,3). Jose Hermida and Rudi van Houts (Multivan Merida) finished in firth place in 3:10.07,8.

Sauser and Kulhavy (Burry Stander – SONGO) now lead the race by 3 minutes and 43 seconds (overall 22:43.09,0). The Bulls Karl Platt and Urs Huber are in second place overall (22:46.52,3) and the Bulls 2 team Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme in third overall (23:03.43,3).

Says Sauser of Burry Stander – SONGO: "This is my 29th stage win and I am thinking of making tomorrow my 30th, but finishing in overall first place at Lourensford is what is most important." Adds Kulhavy: "We got up this morning and I'm not feeling that fresh any longer. But we went flat box right from the first kilometer even though we were tired from the previous days."

Florian Vogel and Nino Schurter of Scott-Swisspower MTB-Racing during stage 5 of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Wellington, South Africa on the 22 March 2013

Photo by Shaun Roy/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Says Schurter of Scott-Swisspower MTB-Racing: “It was a good day for us. We were in the lead for a long time, drafting behind Christoph and Jaroslav. Florian got into a bit of trouble and we fell behind the leading group, but he got up again. It was a good day for Florian and a nice team result for us. It was a real mountain biking course with a lot of single-track. If every stage was like this, I’d definitely come and ride the Absa Cape Epic again.” Adds teammate Vogel: “It was a pretty tough day for me as the last couple of days took its toll. When I looked at today’s route, I thought it could only get better. There was a lot of single-track and I said to myself just go full gas in the beginning and try. You only have two options - dying or making it to the finish. Today’s course was more cross-country style – it was awesome and also not too hot. My best day at the Epic so far.”

Absa African Jersey

The Absa African Leader jersey was taken over by Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes of SCOTT Factory racing in 3:12.15,6 (overall 23:48.39,5). Beukes of the SCOTT Factory Racing team says: “It was a very nice stage today. We feel very good and I think yesterday’s third place gave us a boost mentally. We just enjoyed today and the single-track, and rode fast and hard.”

All South African team of Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes of Scott Factory Racing finish stage 5 to claim the Absa African Jersey during stage 5 of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Wellington, South Africa on the 22 March 2013

Photo by Shaun Roy/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Exarro Jersey

Prince Maseko and Phillimon Sebona of Exxaro PwC Academy 1 won the Exxaro Jersey for the third consecutive stage in a time of 3:52.37,9 (overall 28:34.53,4). Says Prince: “It was very hard today – it was the hardest day and I feel as if I’m broken, but hoping to recover and get back. We’re almost done and I’m enjoying the overall lead. We’ll keep it steady and get to Lourensford.”

Ladies Category

Yolande Speedy and Catherine Williamson (Energas) won their fourth consecutive stage in 4:06.55,9 (overall 28:57.02,1). They now lead this category by 2 hours, 3 minutes and 1 second. In second place, with their third podium finish, were Sara Mertens and Laura Turpijn of C-Bear in 4:17.01,3 (overall 31:46.29,7). Hanlie Booyens and Ischen Stopforth of Pragma Volcan Ladies finished in third place in 4:29.25,8 (overall 31:00.03,7).

Says Williamson (Energas): “It wasn’t a lot of fun. It would’ve been more fun if you had fresh legs, but there were so many steep climbs and my legs are shattered. It was quite hard today. The single-track was really nice and we enjoyed that. The bit in-between was not as nice.” Adds teammate Speedy: “It was a nice course, but I suffered in the beginning. Catherine pushed me on the climbs and I found my legs later. It was a tough day with steep climbs and I hardly enjoyed the downhills as everything was just aching so much.”

Telkom Business Master’s Category

The Telkom Business Masters category was again won by Nico Pftizenmaier and Abraao Azevedo of the Bridge team in 3:18.34,5 (overall 24:54.12,3). This is their third consecutive stage win. They were followed by Bart Brentjens and Robert Sim (Superior-Brentjens 2) in 3:29.05,2 (overall 25:46.52,7). In third place were South Africans Neil Bradford and Tim Osrin of HCL/Harvest Foundation 1 in 3:37.15,1 (overall 26:17.22,7). Pfitzenmaier and Azevedo lead this category by 52 minutes and 40 seconds.

Pfitzenmaier of team Bridge says: “We had so much fun today – it was a beautiful stage. We could play our cards today and the technical riding suited us. Abraao and I are well matched and we could stick to our pace and be comfortable. We played it safe and it’s very good to have another stage win. My main aim is to enjoy the moment – it’s meditation in action for me.”

Telkom Business Grand Masters

Bärti Bucher and Heinz Zoerweg of again finished in first place in the Grand Masters in a time of 3:42.58,0 (overall 26:48.43,3). They have won all five stages as well as the Prologue in this category. They were followed by Izak Visagie and Peter Stopforth of Cape Style Wines with their first podium finish in 3:57.23,4 (overall 29:47.33,9). Paul Furbank and Chris Brand of Genesis Capital finished in third place in 4:00.00,3 (overall 28:43.47,5). Pragma Marsilio Projects (Lieb Loots and Tony Conlon) finished in fourth place in 4:03.46,2 (overall 29:47.13,2). Bucher and Zoerweg lead this category by 1 hour, 55 minutes and 4 seconds.

Says Bärti Bucher of "The single-tracks were nice. We’re looking forward to Stellenbosch and then Lourensford. We take it day by day.”

Mixed Category

Theresa Ralph and Damian Perrin of Biogen Britehouse won today’s stage in a time of 3:44.34,6 (overall 29:34.22,8). They were followed by the RE:CM team of Erik and Ariane Kleinhans in 3:45.09,2 (overall 26:47.35,1). In third place were Johan Labuschagne and Yolandé de Villiers of Exxaro Cycle Lab 1 in 3:54.25,2 (overall 28:29.50,6). Cherise Stander and Duane Stander (Africanmtbkid 1) finished in fourth place today in 3:55.33,7 (overall 29:37.27,0). Erik and Ariane Kleinhans (RE:CM) lead this category by 1 hour, 42 minutes and 15 seconds.

Says Ralph of Biogen Britehouse: “It was full gas the whole way and not one section that we relaxed. We were always pushing the limit and encouraging each other. The route was fun, with lots of winding trails and some technical bits. The single-track was really nice and there were good intervals.”

Says Erik Kleinhans of RE:CM: “This is the first day that we didn’t win the stage. We didn’t want to take any chances as tomorrow is a hectic stage and we wanted to spare our arms and tyres today. Biogen Britehouse were in the lead for most of today. They created a gap down the first downhill and we managed to close the gap, but we’d really like to win tomorrow. It’s our home town and we tried to give our legs and arms a bit of a break. Biogen put in a lot of effort on the last downhill to win. They earned their win today.”

Stage 6: Wellington to Stellenbosch (99 km, 2 950 m of climbing)

With a maximum stage time of 10 hours, riders should prepare themselves for a long stage, the last real hurdle of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic. The first 20 kilometers are primarily in the forestry plantation on the slopes of Du Toit’s Kloof, with a steady 10-kilometer climb followed by an equally long, fast descent interrupted occasionally by some soft forest single-track. The second major climb is primarily through orchards that soon give way to mountain fynbos as the trails turns more rugged, including another single-track descent, but riders need to watch out for the handle-bar-grabbing fynbos. By the time riders cross under the N1 national highway at the 35-kilometer mark, they will have completed almost half the climbing of the day. The next section is fast going along farm and gravel roads along the Drakenstein Mountains towards Franschhoek. The route makes the turn towards Helshoogte Pass, as the trail hugs the steep slopes of the iconic Simonsberg Mountain. Riders will pass through wine farms and the Idas Valley before passing underneath the R310 road. From here it is one last steep climb, before a descent sweetened by some more forestry single-track that takes riders into the race village.

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