While the Swiss-Danish pair arrived at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Wellington campus 32,1 seconds ahead of the Topeak Ergon and added another 1.11,3 to their overall lead on Ascendis Health, they didn’t have it all their own way today.
“I didn’t see that coming,” Langvad told Kleinhans as they celebrated their victory.
The three contenders in the Sasol Women’s category, as well as Sport for Good, remained within a minute of each other at all three water points on the 104km transition stage from Tulbagh. While it didn’t end in a sprint finish, they all described the racing as fierce and exactly what the women’s category has been calling out for.
“It was a very close race and we had no idea how it was going to finish. The racing was super close and very tough because we were all together until the last 20 kilometres or so,” said Langvad.
The Dane believes that it was their nous that saw them eventually emerge from the pack to win.
“We didn’t win because we were stronger today, but only because we chose best when to use our advantage. After the last descent we went through vineyards and the corners were very slippery… that’s where we made our advantage count.”
Among the triumphant scenes of Kleinhans and Langvad, were the tears of Adel Morath (Topeak Ergon) and clear signs of the day’s toil when Jennie Stenerhag (Ascendis Health) required medical attention.
Sally Bigham revealed that her German partner Morath had ridden the entire stage with her knee in pain after a crash yesterday. With that said, they both enjoyed today’s racing.
“Today was the best women’s stage that I’ve been involved in during my Cape Epic history,” said Bigham, riding in her sixth straight Cape Epic. “We had a great time and really enjoyed the close racing. The separate starts worked well today and it will be very good for the sport if we have more racing like today – there was lots of attacking and counter-attacking. It helps when the Masters men don’t get involved in our race because it can have an impact.”
Morath echoed Bigham’s sentiments.
“It was an amazing stage… we watched each other, we attacked each other, it was very tactical. It was super hard so in the end everyone was suffering and looking forward to seeing the finish line.”
Having made up ground on Ascendis Health, Bigham is excited about what their English-German partnership can do during the rest of the week.
“I think we are working very well together. We don’t talk that much during the race because there isn’t much chance but we every day we are learning more about riding with each other. We’re looking forward to the remaining stages.”
Stenerhag’s was stretchered off to the race hospital after collapsing at the finish and within the hour announced that she would not continue the race.
Despite Stenerhag’s withdrawal, De Groot said that they actually enjoyed the race today and she intends to continue riding herself. “Look, there were sections that were very hot. The racing was very exciting. It was a proper ladies race today…”
2016 Stage 3 Women
1. Spur-Specialized 50-1 Annika Langvad (Denmark) 50-2 Ariane Kleinhans (Switzerland) 5:18.47,0
2. Topeak Ergon 53-1 Sally Bigham (England) 53-2 Adel Morath (Germany) 5:19.19,1 +32,1
3. Ascendis Health 51-1 Robyn de Groot (South Africa) 51-2 Jennie Stenerhag (Sweden) 5:19.58,3 +1.11,3
1. Spur-Specialized 50-1 Annika Langvad (Denmark) 50-2 Ariane Kleinhans (Switzerland) 17:05.39,4
2. Ascendis Health 51-1 Robyn de Groot (South Africa) 51-2 Jennie Stenerhag (Sweden) 17:10.07,8 +4.28,4
3. Topeak Ergon 53-1 Sally Bigham (England) 53-2 Adel Morath (Germany) 17:13.06,9 +7.27,5
4. Sport for Good 54-2 Yana Belomoina (Ukraine) 54-1 Sabine Spitz (Germany) 17:26.11,6 +20.32,2
5. Meerendal Wheeler 52-1 Esther Suss (Switzerland) 52-2 Catherine Williamson (England) 18:00.04,8 +54.25,4
6. Meerendal Rocky EBE 56-1 Hielke Elferink (Netherlands) 56-2 Elisabeth Brandau (Germany) 18:56.02,5 +1:50.23,1
7. Galileo Risk 55-1 Theresa Ralph (South Africa) 55-2 Yolandi du Toit (South Africa) 18:56.27,8 +1:50.48,4
8. Asrin Cycling 71-1 Janka Keseg Stevkova (Slovakia) 71-2 Sandra Santanyes Murillo (Spain) 19:13.25,9 +2:07.46,5
9. Energade Racing 202-1 Dalene van der Leek (South Africa) 202-2 Sharon Laws (England) 19:14.23,3 +2:08.43,9
10. Liv - MTB Pro 59-1 Muriel Bouhet (France) 59-2 Merce Pacios Pujado (Spain) 21:30.34,6 +4:24.55,2