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  1. Sina Frei and Laura Stigger (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) won their fifth consecutive Absa Cape Epic stage in the Slanghoek Valley today. It means they now hold a near-unassailable 17 minute lead over Robyn de Groot and Ariane Luthi (Salusmed) with three stages to go. View full article
  2. Sina Frei and Laura Stigger during stage 4. Photo credit: Sam Clark. Early on the stage, it looked like their 2021 Cape Epic domination might be broken. The Computer Mania MTB duo of Cherie Redecker and Adelheid Morath burst into life right from the start. Seemingly startled by the early pace-setters, Salusmed responded, as did the overall leaders NinetyOne-songo-Specialized. The three teams formed the lead bunch, with Luthi and De Groot looking in great form. After a sluggish start, Faces CST’s Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss then hauled in the leading riders - not long after the racing led to a bad crash for Luthi. At the finish, she made her way straight to the medics. Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss during stage 4 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: Sam Clark. “We were going really well and feeling good,” said Luthi. “Candice and Mariske were putting the pressure on - then I am not sure what actually happened. I hit something, went down, and landed on a rock. It was incredibly painful. I gathered my bottle, but I think I was in a bit of shock from the crash and it took me a while to get going again.” By now, Frei and Stigger had pulled away but Faces CST was able to claim second place on the day. “After four crashes on four stages of the race my body was kind of in survival mode today,” said Mariske Strauss. “But we pushed through to the end and were glad to take second.” Lill added, “It wasn’t the perfect day for us and we had some struggles early on but we came back strongly and had a solid finish.” Ariane Lüthi and Robyn De Groot during stage 4. Photo credit: Sam Clark. For Stigger and Frei, the comfortable lead meant they could take the time to enjoy the trails - even if the toll of five days of racing is starting to tell. “Every day is a little bit tougher,” said Stigger. “The body is definitely feeling it. But there were amazing trails today and we really enjoyed riding them; that makes it easy to get up in the morning when you know you are going to ride good trails.” Stigger added that teamwork has been crucial to their successful ride so far. “We’ve had good teamwork. We race together in Europe, we are friends, so that makes it easier to ride and race together.” Stage 4 Results: NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Sina FREI, Laura STIGGER 03:19:44.7 Faces CST, Candice LILL, Mariske STRAUSS 03:23:54.4 | +00:04:09.7 Salusmed, Ariane LÜTHI, Robyn DE GROOT 03:25:53.0 | +00:06:08.3 General classification after Stage 4: NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Sina FREI, Laura STIGGER 18:12:32.2 | 21.9 km/h ave. Salusmed, Ariane LÜTHI, Robyn DE GROOT 18:29:56.1 | +00:17:23.9 | 21.3 km/h ave. Faces CST, Candice LILL, Mariske STRAUSS 18:41:01.1 | +00:28:28.9 | 21.5 km/h ave.
  3. The Dutch-Portuguese pairing of Hans Becking and José Dias, riding in the colours of Buff Scott MTB, rode a flawless race to win Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic. The stage was a 73km rapid-fire race from Saronsberg, Tulbagh to Goudini Spa in the Slanghoek Valley. View full article
  4. Hans Becking and José Dias of Buff Scott MTB win stage 4 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Overall leaders Matt Beers and Jordan Sarrou (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) claimed second on the day, extending their overall lead through skill and circumstance - their nearest rivals, Canyon Northwave MTB, abandoned the stage before the start due to stomach complaints for Martin Stošek. Andreas Seewald continued as a solo rider but is out of the racing. The BULLS rider Simon Schneller was also ill overnight but opted to start regardless. Despite the illness, he managed to complete the stage. That leaves Beers and Sarrou with a 00:06:42 lead over Martin Frey and Simon Stiebjahn (BULLS 2). Samuele Porro and Fabian Rabensteiner (Trek-Pirelli) now move into third on the general classification. The men’s field started like they were racing for the last Woolworths chocolate milk, with the entire bunch scorching out of the Saronsberg start chute. Enrique Morcillo Vergara and Christoph Sauser lead the bunch during stage 4. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. A short trail section followed that start, then a portion of tar before another trail took the riders towards a rocky and rough climb through a game reserve (obligatory buck scenery followed). At this stage of the racing, Phil Buys and Pieter du Toit (Pyga Euro Steel 2 and Absa African Men’s Jersey leaders) were putting the hammer, screwdriver, and monkey wrench down. It was an all-out attack with everything in the toolbox from the South African duo and they led the race for approximately half the stage. The early pace-setting took its toll, though, with Becking and Dias making their move around the 45km mark on the flattish middle section of the day and then again on the steep climb towards the Slanghoek Trails. Beers and Sarrou, BULLS 2 and Trek-Pirelli attempted to hang with the leaders, but once onto the Slanghoek Trails, Buff Scott MTB were able to further extend their lead. The eventual winners had no trouble on the twisty, technical trails, and were able to ride home to the Goudini Spa finish with uninterrupted views of the stunning Slanghoek Valley. Hans Becking and José Dias of Buff Scott MTB break away on a climb during stage 4. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. “We take every stage day-by-day,” said Hans Becking. “You wake up and you ask your legs how they are doing, then you wait to see how you feel. Coming into the event we had focussed on the second half of the race, and today we just had super legs. We felt good right from the start, so we knew it was go-time today.” José Dias added that the singletrack trails made it a pleasant finish. “There were some really fast parts in the beginning. Then there was some sand, then rocks, a bit of everything. The trails at the end were really nice and the bikes handled very well. I enjoyed the ride a lot today and the bonus was the stage win.” The weather forecast promises heavy rain over the next two days, something that doesn’t bother Dias. “I am from Portugal and Hans is from Holland; it rains a lot there. So we say ‘bring it on’.” Matt Beers of NinetyOne-songo-Specialized during stage 4 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. In the race for the yellow jersey, Beers and Sarrou were happy to play second fiddle on the stage. “I’ve really enjoyed the week so far,” said Sarrou. “The trails were really good today. We just rode consistently and worked nicely as a team. I’m very happy with the result for us today.” Stage 5 is an 84km trail-riding festival with 2900m of climbing in and around the trails of Wellington. The first climb of the day is aptly named ‘Heavy Legs’, a section of the ride that could set the tone for the day. Jordan Sarrou and Matt Beers of NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Hans Becking and José Dias of Buff Scott MTB and Simon Stiebjahn and Martin Frey of Bulls 2. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Stage 4 Results: Buff Scott MTB, Hans BECKING, José DIAS 02:42:50.2 NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Jordan SARROU, Matthew BEERS 02:43:33.6 | +00:00:43.4 BULLS 2, Martin FREY, Simon STIEBJAHN 02:44:40.6 | +00:01:50.4 General classification after Stage 4: NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Jordan SARROU, Matthew BEERS 15:03:00.0 | 26.8 km/h ave. BULLS 2, Martin FREY, Simon STIEBJAHN 15:09:42.1 | +00:06:42.0 | 26.6 km/h ave. Trek-Pirelli, Samuele PORRO, Fabian RABENSTEINER 15:13:50.2 | +00:10:50.1 | 26.6 km/h
  5. Sina Frei and Laura Stigger (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) won Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic in Tulbagh today, continuing their commanding march towards overall glory. View full article
  6. Laura Stigger and Sina Frei during stage 3 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic Mountain. Photo by Sam Clark They won everything Stage 3 could throw at them - the Dimension Data Hotspot Sprint on Tulbagh’s 300-year-old Church Street, the race to the top of the climbs, and the race to the bottom of the descents. They finished the stage nearly four minutes ahead of their nearest rivals, Robyn de Groot and Ariane Lüthi (Salusmed), giving themselves a mammoth 11-minute lead in the women’s race general classification. Team Salusmed's Robyn De Groot. Photo credit: Kelvin Trautman. “It was a super hard stage because it was really hot,” said Frei. “We managed to get a gap on the steep, long Fanties Pass climb. Then on the technical downhill we could extend it, and in the end, we just went all out to the finish.” Stigger was thankful that her partner was on song throughout the day. “I couldn’t have done that stage without Sina,” she said. “I really struggled. Sina was really patient and waited for me, I have to thank her for being my teammate. She was so good today - on the climbs, on the trails, on the flats, everywhere.” UCI Women group during stage 3 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: Sam Clark. The women’s race only kicked into gear around the 20km mark, where the teams raced full-throttle through the Tulbagh-based Hotspot. From there, NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Salusmed, Fairtree (Amy McDougall and Jennie Stenerhag), Faces CST (Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss), and Land Rover Ladies (Mari Rabie and Hayley Preen) all kept together. A break formed, with Land Rover Ladies leading the way. South African National road race Champion Preen looked up for the fight today, but a crash that resulted in a suspected wrist fracture ended her race participation. The scene played out with Rabie sitting on the floor, comforting her injured partner. Mariske Strauss was the next rider to crash, her fourth in four days of racing. It meant Faces CST dropped off the front and had to race hard to close the three-minute gap. Team Faces CST, Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss. Photo credit: Kelvin Trautman. As Fanties Pass approached, Lüthi said she felt good and managed to pull away, but partner Robyn De Groot was taking strain. “On that climb, I was not feeling well,” said De Groot. “I had a bad patch, a really bad patch. I just tried to keep moving forward, trying not to look too far ahead. I was struggling, taking it metre by metre.” Frei and Stigger sensed their opportunity and made their move, turning the race screws in the process. “We were hoping for a bigger gap,” said Frei. “But we are happy with what we got because by the end we were suffering.” Sina Frei and Laura Stigger. Photo credit: Kelvin Trautman. Stage 3 Results: NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Sina FREI, Laura STIGGER | 04:34:33.3 Salusmed, Ariane LÜTHI, Robyn DE GROOT 04:38:17.0 | +00:03:43.6 Faces CST, Candice LILL, Mariske STRAUSS 04:40:41.7 | +00:06:08.3 General classification after Stage 3: NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Sina FREI, Laura STIGGER 14:52:47.4 | 19.9 km/h ave. Salusmed, Ariane LÜTHI, Robyn DE GROOT 15:04:03.1 | +00:11:15.6 | 19.6 km/h ave. Faces CST, Candice LILL, Mariske STRAUSS 15:17:06.7 | +00:24:19.2 | 19.5 km/h ave. Full results here.
  7. Seewald has been threatening to show his World Champion credentials all week, and today that finally proved the case as he and Stošek powered to an important stage win. View full article
  8. Martin Stošek and Andreas Seewald of Canyon Northwave win stage 3 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. The Canyon Northwave MTB pair remain in second overall, but they have cut the lead of NinetyOne-songo-Specialized’s Matt Beers and Jordan Sarrou down to 01:43. “Our plan worked perfectly today,” said Seewald. “We controlled the pace on the long singletrack section from the front and could afford to take it a little bit easy - this was good because we didn’t know the trail that well. Then on the steep climb, we attacked, which was our plan all along. It was brutally hard - I didn’t believe that we could actually get a gap - but we managed to get one and we held on to it.” Samuele Porro and Fabian Rabensteiner (Trek-Pirelli) managed to stick with Seewald and Stošek on the climb, with all four riders racing towards the finish on the final, flattish last 10km. “We had worked hard on the climb,” said Seewald. “Towards the finish, we had Trek-Pirelli with us so we could all work together and get over the line as quickly as possible.” Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Czech rider Stošek, battered from his efforts on the stage, was thrilled with the team’s first win. “The Trek-Pirelli guys worked well with us over the last few kilometres so that we could get to the finish line in good time. In the end, I was confident we could win the sprint because Andreas had good legs today, he almost killed me on the climb. I am very happy with our first Absa Cape Epic stage win.” The stage provided plenty of drama, with crashes and snapped chains occurring at high frequency. Initial Stage 3 pace-setters Phil Buys and Pieter du Toit, who won the Dimension Data Hotspot Sprint on Tulbagh’s 300-year-old Church Street, were leading when they took a tumble on the Bone Trail singletrack. The fall broke du Toit’s handlebar. Peeter Pruus of Team Pure Encapsulation somehow destroyed his rear wheel early in the day. Australian professional Lachlan Morton (EF Education-Nippo) snapped a chain early on, with Buff Scott MTB (Hans Becking and Jose Diaz) suffering a similar fate. In the Elite women’s race, South African National road race Champion Hayley Preen (Land Rover Ladies) exited the race with what appeared to be a wrist fracture. Filippo Viero Colombo and Juri Zanotti of BMC KTM. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. For much of the men’s Stage 3 race, the leading teams remained together throughout - indeed, the real racing would only start on the blockbuster Fanties Pass, arguably the toughest climb in the 2021 event. Canyon Northwave MTB made their move halfway up the climb and it was only Trek-Pirelli that could respond. Urs Huber and Simon Schneller of BULLS were able to finish third on the day, with BULLS 2’s Martin Frey and Simon Stiebjahn (fourth) riding home just ahead of yellow jersey wearers, Beers and Sarrou. At the finish, Sarrou lay in a crumpled heap. “I’m feeling so exhausted,” he said. “It was a hard day. We had to climb that huge hill in the heat. It was so steep; just incredibly hard, but we managed to bring the gap back a little bit after they broke away. We combined nicely with BULLS 2 on the flat sections to keep the gap down. There are still some stages to go. We worked as hard as we could today, so we are happy with the result.” Jordan Sarrou of NinetyOne-songo-Specialized. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Sporting a hydration pack for the first time at an event, Sarrou’s partner Beers was happy with his foresight. “I don’t even have a hydration pack,” said Beers. Alan Hatherly organised it for me last night; he took it to my dad at around 9pm, then my dad brought it through to me this morning. I’m glad I did it. I didn’t cramp, so it obviously worked well. It was a super hard stage, especially in that heat. We worked well as a team, though, and I thought we finished well.” Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic will take the riders from Saronsberg (Tulbagh) to a rearranged finish at Goudini Spa in the Slanghoek Valley. At 73km-long, the ride may seem short, but with punchy climbs and rocky terrain on the route, the race will certainly take a few more twists and turns. Martin Stošek and Andreas Seewald of Canyon Northwave on the top step of the podium. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Stage 3 Results: Canyon Northwave MTB, Andreas SEEWALD, Martin STOŠEK 03:41:47.8 Trek-Pirelli Samuele PORRO, Fabian RABENSTEINER 03:41:50.4 | +00:00:02.5 BULLS, Urs HUBER, Simon SCHNELLER 03:42:07.7 | +00:00:19.8 General classification after Stage 3: NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Jordan SARROU, Matthew BEERS 12:19:26.4 | 24.6 km/h ave. Canyon Northwave MTB, Andreas SEEWALD, Martin STOŠEK 12:21:09.7 | +00:01:43.3 | 24.6 km/h ave. BULLS 2, Martin FREY, Simon STIEBJAHN 12:23:20.1| +00:03:53.7 | 24.6 km/h ave. Full results here.
  9. Sinna Frei and Laura Stigger powered to a third stage win on the trot when they crossed the Saronsberg-based finish line on Stage 2 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. View full article
  10. Sina Frei and Laura Stigge during stage 2. Photo credit: Kelvin Trautman. The NinetyOne-songo-Specialized team of Sina Frei and Laura Stigger made it three wins from three stages so far at the 2021 Absa Cape Epic, winning Stage 2 today ahead of Robyn de Groot and Ariane Lüthi (Salusmed). Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss (Faces CST) claimed third spot on the day. Frei and Stigger now hold a seven-and-a-half minute advantage over nearest rivals, De Groot and Luthi; while that may sound like an age, the trails of the Absa Cape Epic have reclaimed far more than a few minutes from many teams, in the past. Conditions on the 96km Stage 2, from Ceres to Saronsberg, Tulbagh, were ideal for mountain bike racing and the Elite women began the first “move day” at a conservative pace. However, racers will be racers and the throttles were twisted. Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill. Photo credit: Sam Clark. The race burst into life when four teams pulled away from the pack - NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Salusmed, Faces CST, and Cherie Redecker and Adelheid Morath of Computer Mania MTB all leaving the rest behind. The four teams remained together in a tight group for much of the stage, with a split only taking place around the 72km mark. Earlier in the race, Ariane Lüthi was strongest up the Old Gydo Pass, the first real climb of the day, but on the final big climb, Frei and Stigger, at home in the mountainous terrain, made their move, dropping the three chasing teams. By the 77km checkpoint, they’d opened up a 30-second gap on De Groot and Lüthi, a gap which had grown to just over a minute by the stage’s end. Ariane Lüthi. Photo credit: Sam Clark. On the technical Old Wagon Trail descent into Tulbagh, Lill and Strauss lost valuable time, the latter struggling with a puncture. Strauss was also feeling the effects of her crashes on yesterday’s stage. “It took me a bit of time this morning to find my rhythm but after a while, you forget the pain,” she said. “On the final descent I started feeling it again, but I think we had a consistent race and I’m proud of how we did today.” For Frei and Stigger, it was a complete performance, mishap-free and without incident. “It was a slow start and we just controlled the pace,” said Frei. “In the last 20km we pushed the pace higher and managed to get away on the climb; we were first into the downhill and had a trouble-free final 10km to the finish.” Tomorrow’s Stage 3 will be crucial for the chasing teams in the women’s race. Some risks will have to be taken on the 91km, 2100m stage to cut into the overall lead of Frei and Stigger. Expect adventure and excitement on the trails of Tulbagh. Stage 2 podium. Photo credit: Simon Pocock. Stage 2 Results: NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Sina FREI, Laura STIGGER | 04:49:12.7 Salusmed, Ariane LÜTHI, Robyn DE GROOT 04:50:14.9 | +00:01:02.1 Faces CST, Candice LILL, Mariske STRAUSS 04:53:47.7 | +00:04:35.0 General classification after Stage 2: NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Sina FREI, Laura STIGGER 05:29:01.2 | 17.9 km/h ave. Salusmed, Ariane LÜTHI, Robyn DE GROOT, 05:35:31.1 | +00:06:29.8 | 17.5 km/h ave. Faces CST, Candice LILL, Mariske STRAUSS, 05:42:37.1 | +00:13:35 | 17.2 km/h ave. Full results available here.
  11. South African rider Matt Beers and French partner Jordan Sarrou (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) claimed Stage 2 of the Absa Cape Epic today, winning their second stage of the 2021 event in the process. View full article
  12. Mens leaders, Matt Beers and Jordan Sarrou of NinetyOne-songo-Specialized during stage 2 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. The pair comfortably won the 98km stage that took riders from Ceres to Saronsberg, Tulbagh in a time of 3:56:02. The stage victory means they remain in the overall yellow leader jerseys going into tomorrow’s 91km stage that features many of Tulbagh’s most famed trails, including the notorious Bone Trail. NinetyOne-songo-Specialized’s stage win means they now hold a 2:13 lead over Martin Stošek and Andreas Seewald (Canyon Northwave MTB) in the race general classification. Andreas Seewald and Martin Stošek of Canyon Northwave MTB. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Canyon Northwave MTB finished second on Stage 2, roughly 30 seconds behind the winners while Urs Huber and Simon Schneller, in the BULLS colours, came in third; they sit third in the overall standings, too. Earlier in the day, the race started in ideal riding conditions, with blue skies and cool conditions. There was a lowkey bunch ride out of Ceres, with the BULLS 2 team of Martin Frey and Simon Stiebjahn making a few early attacks. Nothing much came of them, and the men’s field remained intact for much of the morning. From around 30 minutes into the race the pace started to quicken, with Canyon Northwave MTB looking all business at the front. The field eventually split into a clear lead bunch, with NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, BULLS, Trek-Pirelli, Buff Scott 1, and Absa African Jersey leaders Pyga Eurosteel 2 (Phil Buys and Pieter du Toit) all sitting just behind the Canyon riders. That remained the case late into the day, until the final climb began at the 70km mark. Seewald and Stošek decided to make their move on the climb and were aided by Beers slipping out. This let Canyon Northwave MTB briefly pull away; Beers worked hard to recover, though, and, crucially, he and Sarrou were able to enter the Old Wagon Trail singletrack descent in front. Once on the descent, Sarrou and Beers went flat out to pull away, racing home through the orchard and vineyard roads to Saronsberg. Photo credit: Sam Clark. “It’s awesome to win another stage,” said Beers. “The Prologue was good enough but wearing the yellow and to win in the yellow... you just can’t get better than that. On the final descent, I knew we had to get a gap there, so I just bombed away and railed the corners until I got to Jordan’s wheel and I was like, ‘okay, let’s go man’ - we flew down there, with his XCO skills and my background in motocross we could just send it.” Of the final 10km, Beers was less enthusiastic. “The last bit felt like a lifetime!” Sarrou was slightly off the pace at the beginning of the day and he confirmed as much on the finish line. “I was off this morning and was struggling a bit. Matt just waited for me and we kept calm. His local knowledge really helped today; eventually I started feeling better and by the end we were riding on the same wavelength.” Simon Schneller of Team Bulls during stage 2 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Andreas Seewald admitted that the Canyon Northwave MTB strategy was to attack on the final climb, but they didn’t count on the aggressive descending mindset of Beers and Sarrou. “Our plan was to push as hard as possible on the steep climb; that worked out well, but Matt and Jordan came back strongly. It was actually good to have them in front on the descent so we could just stay on their wheels, but we lost them about halfway down. We didn’t want to take too many risks. We expected the final descent to be fast and dangerous and it was. They were taking a lot of risks - we want to do well overall and not take too many risks, so we are playing it safe over the first few days.” Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic is a 91km, 2100m assault on the mountains surrounding Tulbagh. Conditions promise to be the most testing of the event so far, with temperatures in the mid-30s expected. Full results here.
  13. Absa Cape Epic newbies, Sina Frei and Laura Stigger (NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized), blitzed Stage 1 in the Elite women’s race, today. View full article
  14. Laura Stigger and Sina Frei win stage 1. Photo credit: Sam Clark. Riding comfortably, with great control and composure throughout, the first-timers cruised home in 4:34:52 - nearly five minutes ahead of second-placed finishers Ariane Luthi and Robyn de Groot (Salusmed). The women’s race started with all the protagonists watching each other on the relatively flat trails leading towards Eselfontein and the first climb of the day, welcomingly named 'Dead Man Walking'. There was, however, an early hiccup for Sarah Hill and Vera Looser (Liv-Lapierre Racing) when a stray piece of wire pierced Looser’s rear tyre. The pair quickly handled the repair work and caught the bunch, but as soon as the climbing started, the main contenders twisted the throttle. Photo credit: Sam Clark. By waterpoint 2, a bunch had formed, starring orange jersey wearers Frei & Stigger, Candice Lill & Mariske Strauss (Faces CST, although dressed in the red of the Absa African Women's jersey), De Groot and Luthi, and Cherie Redecker & Adelheid Morath (Computer Mania MTB). An all-day cat and mouse race appeared to be taking shape. However, Frei and Stigger powered away. They raced through the Dimension Data Hotspot 50 seconds ahead of Luthi and De Groot, widening the gap as the day progressed. Their cause was aided by both their nearest rivals suffering crashes. Mariske Strauss crashed twice during the day, with Luthi also taking a tumble. Stigger and Frei took full advantage of the mishaps. “It might have looked easy, but it really wasn’t,” explained Stigger. “We had to fight the whole way, and we are super happy to take the win.” Frei added that the stage win was hard-earned, “The legs are super tired now, we suffered a lot. It wasn’t really the plan to go out so early alone, but we just kept going. For most of the time, we had no idea how far ahead we were; and then, at times, we had the feeling as though they were right behind us. So we just tried to keep a solid and consistent pace and work together as a team.” Tomorrow’s Stage 2 is a transition day, with riders leaving Ceres and racing towards Saronsberg in Tulbagh. With 96km and 2100m of climbing as the day's listed demands, any mistakes will be pounced on. Stage 1 Results: NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Sina FREI, Laura STIGGER (#54-2), 04:34:52.6, Salusmed, Ariane LÜTHI, Robyn DE GROOT, 04:39:43.8 | +00:04:51.1 Faces CST, Candice LILL, Mariske STRAUSS, 04:46:55.4 | +00:12:02.7 General classification after Stage 1: NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Sina FREI, Laura STIGGER 05:29:01.2 | 17.9 km/h ave. Salusmed, Ariane LÜTHI, Robyn DE GROOT, 05:35:31.1 | +00:06:29.8 | 17.5 km/h ave. Faces CST, Candice LILL, Mariske STRAUSS, 05:42:37.1 | +00:13:35 | 17.2 km/h ave. Full results here.
  15. In a tight finish on Stage 1, the BULLS (Urs Huber & Simon Schneller) and BULLS 2 (Martin Frey & Simon Stiebjahn) teams claimed first and second respectively, with Canyon Northwave MTB (Andreas Seewald & Martin Stošek) racing home in third. View full article
  16. Urs Huber and Simon Schneller of Team Bulls win stage 1. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Prologue winners NinetyOne-songo-Specialized (Matt Beers & Jordan Sarrou) finished in fourth, but retained their overall lead with a healthy gap of just under two minutes over second-placed team Canyon Northwave MTB. Matt Beers of NinetyOne-songo-Specialized. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. For the final 25km of the stage, the BULLS teams, Canyon Northwave MTB, and NinetyOne-songo-Specialized set the pace. The teams couldn’t pull away from each other and a sprint finish looked inevitable until a seemingly innocuous river crossing altered the day with a few kilometres remaining. At this stage Canyon Northwave MTB were marginally ahead and looking like the winners, but Seewald and Stošek appeared to misjudge the depth of the river, with the two BULLS teams managing the crossing with better agility than their rivals. BULLS were able to pull away with Simon Stiebjahn of BULLS 2 in tow; Frey put in a burst of effort into the finish chute so that all four BULLS riders crossed the line together. Earlier in the 98km Stage 1, Phil Buys and Pieter du Toit set the pace, with the Absa African Jersey leaders pulling the men’s field along at a fair clip. The second-place finishers of the Prologue, BMC-KTM (Filippo Viero Colombo and Juri Zanotti), endured two mechanicals in quick succession early in the day, scuppering any ambitions they might have had for Stage 1 glory. Urs Huber of Team Bulls. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. As the riders approached the Dead Man Walking climb, the first major challenge of the day, it was still Buys and Du Toit leading the way with a hungry pack not far behind. Beers and Sarrou managed to pull away up Dead Man Walking and crossed the Dimension Data Hotspot with a slim 20 second lead over the chasers. After the Pipeline descent, perhaps named winningly after a pipeline that runs across the trail, Beers and Sarrou looked in complete command, with both riders taking turns to mash out some aggressive watts through the Ceres orchards. The four teams were soon back together, though, when mini-calamity struck Beers; grass caught in his cassette wouldn’t allow him to shift into heavier gears, so the man with the big engine had to spin his way through the final 10km. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. With all four teams racing neck-and-neck, the finish came to an interesting conclusion thanks to the well-placed river crossing. The Bulls emerged faster than the other teams from the water and were able to speed away into the Ceres Sportsground finish. “Simon and I checked the last kilometre before the start this morning so we knew what to expect,” said Urs Huber. “We’re very happy with the stage win. It was a really nice track, but also hard, we had to push for every metre, nothing was for free out there but that is the Cape Epic and what we are here for. It couldn’t be better to go one-two today.” Despite the Curious Case of the Grassy Cassette, Beers was upbeat with his and Sarrou’s performance. “We had a good day,” said Beers. “We knew we had to stay near the front the whole day. There was a lot of singletrack. It wasn’t really the plan to go for the Hot Spot but we saw the other guys were struggling, so we went for it. Then we pushed on the descent to grow the gap a little and blunt them a little bit. It took quite a while for them to come back but the Bulls rode a good race and near the end I had the grass stuck in my cassette so couldn’t shift the last four gears, so it was a bit of a cadence, spinning match. But I am glad we could consolidate and stay in yellow.” Team Bulls of Simon Schneller and Urs Huber win stage 1 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Stage 1 Results: BULLS, Urs HUBER, Simon SCHNELLER, 03:57:35.2, BULLS 2, Martin FREY, Simon STIEBJAHN, 03:57:37.4 | +00:00:02.2 Canyon Northwave MTB, Andreas SEEWALD, Martin STOŠEK, 03:57:38.3 | +00:00:03.1 General classification after Stage 1: NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, Jordan SARROU, Matthew BEERS | 04:41:05.4 | 20.9 km/h ave. Canyon Northwave MTB, Andreas SEEWALD, Martin STOŠEK, 04:42:53.2 | +00:01:47.8 | 20.8 km/h ave. BULLS 2, Martin FREY, Simon STIEBJAHN, 04:43:13.7 | +00:02:08.2 | 20.8 km/h Full results here.
  17. Sina Frei and Laura Stigger (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized), both riding in the Absa Cape Epic for the first time, laid down an impressive marker during Sunday’s 20km Prologue. View full article
  18. Laura Stigger and Sina Frei of 91-Songo-Specialized during the Prologue of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. The Swiss-Austria combo rode serenely and smoothly in wet and slippery conditions to claim top spot on the Absa Cape Epic Prologue podium in a time of 54:08.6. The Table Mountain based Prologue is a fast and furious affair, with non-stop climbing and one or two technical descents. Frei and Stigger had no issues with the ups nor the downs. Mud-splattered by the finish, the pair were delighted with their efforts. “It was really tough out there today thanks to the weather, but we are used to those conditions from some of our recent XCO rides, so we handled it well,” said Stigger. Frei added, “We are very happy with the result, but we know there are seven hard days to come. Today went well, though. It was very good for us, and we both felt great throughout the day. We kept up a good speed and we communicated well - so hopefully we keep that up over the next few days.” The Women's Podium. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. The all-South African pair of Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss (Faces CST) claimed second spot on the Prologue podium, finishing in 55:41, around 90 seconds behind NinetyOne-songo-Specialized. The pair were relaxed throughout and finished the 20km race all smiles and ready to move on to the longer stages. In third, it was Ariane Lüthi & Robyn de Groot (Salusmed). Lüthi, a three-time winner in the Elite women’s race, and De Groot looked comfortable throughout the Prologue, which is not generally the strength of the two renowned marathon riders. The pair will be serious contenders at the 2021 Absa Cape Epic, with their third-place Prologue finish setting them up nicely to attack in the coming days. Full results here.
  19. After a pandemic-enforced hiatus, the Absa Cape Epic, widely regarded as the world’s premier mountain bike stage race, returned to action in fine style in Cape Town today with the 20km Prologue ahead of seven days of marathon mountain biking. View full article
  20. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. The Mother City didn’t quite get the memo that the show was back on, drenching the riders with a series of rain squalls throughout the morning. But the rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the amateurs, the elites, the first-timers, or the crew, with all involved thrilled to be back in a stage race setting once again. In the Elite men’s race, home-crowd hero Matt Beers powered to first place alongside French partner Jordan Sarrou (NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized) in a time of 43:24.5. “It’s a great feeling to get the win,” said Beers. “I’ve been visualising it ever since I got a taste for this a few years back. Jordan was just a beast on the climbs, so I let him set the pace and I just hung on for dear life.” Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Second-place went to Filippo Viero Colombo (Switzerland) and Italy’s Juri Zanotti (BMC - KTM) in 45:04.4, with Andreas Seewald (Germany) and Martin Stosek (Czech Republic) of Canyon Northwave MTB claiming third in a time of 45:14.8. Absa Cape Epic novices Colombo and Zanotti set the early pace for the Prologue, holding on to the podium top spot for much of the men’s Prologue. Until Beers and Sarrou stormed out of the University of Cape Town start chute with aggressive intent to get their race off to the best possible start. Photo credit: Sam Clark. Climbing from UCT and then straight on to Table Mountain National Park, the NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized team looked comfortable throughout, even on the much-feared Quarry Climb and Dead Man’s Tree ascents. From Dead Man’s Tree riders enjoyed a brief tar respite on Tafelberg Road before heading back down the potentially treacherous Plum Pudding descent. Although slick from the persistent rain, Plum Pudding was no issue for the eventual stage winners (unlike some of the amateur riders, who plummeted with wild eyes and even wilder descending styles). With seven days of gruelling mountain bike riding to come, the Prologue was a relatively gentle start to the 2021 event, with all finishers pleased to tick off a stage that can sometimes provide curveballs. Full results here.
  21. Press release The P7 Sport is a tyre dedicated to those who ride for miles and are looking for robustness, grip and durability. Created to meet the needs of those cyclists who do not make competitive performance or KOMs their reason for living, it is developed with the intention of lasting longer, offering exceptional safety and grip and also providing a higher level of mileage than other tyres in the Pirelli road line. The P7 Sport is also a training tyre, making it perfect for racers or amateurs, for second bikes and for all conditions of use where speed is not the only top priority. From a technical point of view, the P7 Sport features a solid 60 TPI nylon casing with an additional layer of cut-resistant fabric located just below the tread. Called TechBELT, it is a kind of "belt" designed to offer superior puncture protection in a wide variety of road and weather conditions. The P7 Sport's compound is the new PRO Compound, with a formulation that focuses on mileage and grip. The latter is also guaranteed by the special tread design which, although inspired by that of the P ZERO Race, has more sipes. The warm-up phase of the tyre is thus reduced to the benefit of grip even in colder conditions. In this regard, the new P7 Sport is a very versatile tyre, a true all-rounder, with excellent seasonality. Like all Pirelli's latest-generation road tyres, the new P7 Sport has been designed according to the latest standards and is available not only in the classic 24, 26, 28 sizes but also in 32 mm for wider rims, for even greater comfort. The Pirelli P7 Sport tyre is now available in South Africa (700x26c*). Expect the stock to hit stores through the month of October. Priced from R 499 *Availability of other sizes to be confirmed
  22. Pirelli completes its line of tyres dedicated to road cycling with the introduction of the new P7 Sport clincher. First announced by Pirelli in June 2021, this robust all-rounder is now available in South Africa. View full article
  23. Local hero Nolan Hoffman became the second most successful men’s rider in Cape Town Cycle Tour history when he won his fourth title in a tactical 2 hours, 37 minutes, 12 seconds in near perfect weather on Sunday. View full article
  24. Photo credit: Tobias Ginsberg. The 36-year-old ENZA team rider - who won in 2014, 2015 and 2018 - delivered the perfect sprint after surviving the climbs up Chapman’s Peak and Suikerbossie and winning by over a bike length ahead of Christiaan Janse van Rensburg and Craig Boyes. “This is definitely the title that means the most. It has been a tough time for my family over the last 18 months and we have lost family members to Covid. I am just blessed to be healthy and be able to win,” Hoffman said. “I put on a lot of weight during the lockdown but I have worked really hard at getting into shape once we heard that the Cycle Tour was happening.” Hoffman was able to save his energy for the big climbs when teammate David Maree got into the only significant break of the day. Maree got clear with Alwyn Steenkamp (TEG Procycling) and Keanan Roodt just after the climb up Wynberg Hill. Through Misty Cliffs the escapees stretched out the lead to 1:19 before they were eventually swallowed up by the charging bunch up Chapman’s Peak. As the lead bunch approached Suikerbossie, World Tour rider Nic Dlamini (Assos-Qhubeka) was the first to attack as he attempted to burn off the sprinters. But the lead group eventually reformed over the final 15km into the finish and Hoffman - helped by guest teammate and mountain biking legend Christoph Sauser - got himself into the perfect position to deliver his trademark sprint. “I just told myself to relax and believe in my sprint. It was just a perfect day,” Hoffman said. Only Willie Engelbrecht has won more titles than Hoffman in the men’s race with five to his name. Results Men: Nolan Hoffman (ENZA) 02:37:12 Christian Janse van Rensburg, same time Craig Boyes, same time Louis Visser, same time Jaco Venter, same time Le Court de Billot wins second title 2018 winner Kim Le Court De Billot took the title in the women’s race after a thrilling race over 78km that started in Fish Hoek. She clocked 2 hour 13 minutes 37 seconds. Photo credit: Chris Hitchcock Le Court De Billot was part of a select group of six riders that managed to pull clear of the bunch up Chapman’s Peak and included SA champion and Hout Bay local Hayley Preen, top mountain biker Candice Lill, UK triathlon star Emma Pallant, Kelsey van Schoor and S’annara Grove. Pallant was the early aggressor while Preen put down the hammer up Suikerbossie in an attempt to break up the lead group. But, in the end, the group entered the final kilometres intact and it was up to Le Court De Billot and Preen to contest the sprint. Behind them Pallant and the rest got tangled up and Pallant crashed heavily within sight of the finish line. “I felt confident on the climbs, felt I was in the right place and my legs were good,” Le Court de Billot. “I tried to save my legs for the sprint because I confidence in that. I’m just glad I could pull it off for my team.” Sunday marked the 43rd edition of the Cape Town Cycle Tour. Results Women: Kim Le Court de Billot (Galileo Infinit SPOT), 02:13:17 Hayley Preen, same time Candice Lill, same time Kelsey van Schoor, same time (Customized Cycling Bioplus) S’annara Grove, same time (Customized Cycling Bioplus)
  25. Catch all the action from race day at the 2021 Cape Town Cycle Tour. View full article
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