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Stander and Sauser win first three stages in South Africa

Written by: The Editors

The South African/Swiss team of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser (Songo.info) have won the first two stages and the prologue of this year’s Absa Cape Epic.

With an overall time advantage of 6:35, the Songo.info pair will wear the yellow leader jersey for stage 3.

The Trek-Brentjens team of Bart Brentjens and Chris Jongewaard attacked from the start of stage 2 stage and had a five-minute lead at the base of the main obstacle of the day — a 3km technical climb. But by the time they reached the bottom on the other side, the Songo.info and Bulls team had caught up with them. The Bulls team struggled with punctures all day and had to repair their tires at least five times.

2009 Absa Cape Epic
Standings after stage 2

Overall Men’s Team Top 3: 1. songo.info: Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) and Burry Stander (South Africa) in total time of 9:24.57.
2. Bulls: Karl Platt (Germany) and Stefan Sahm (Germany) in 9:31.22
3. Trek-Brentjens: Bart Brenthens (Netherlands) and Chris Jongewaard (Australia) in 9:35.59.
Overall Women’s Team Top 3: 1. Absa Ladies: Sharon Laws (England) and Hanlie Booyens (South Africao) in 12:46:16.
2. WSP – Jeep Girls: Robyn Adendorff (South Africa) and Sarah Van Heedren (south Africa) in 14:53:12.
3. TREAD Magazine Ladies: Nolene Saunders (South Africa) and Sarah Wielopolska (South Africa) in 15:08:24
Top Mixed Team overall: Adidas Big Tree: Nico Pfitzenmaier (South Africa) and Alison Sydor (Canada) in 10:43:39.
Top American (Any category, overall): Tinker Juarez, teamed with South Africa’s Johnny Kritzinger, is in 19th overall and 17th among the men, in 10:52.36.

“Yesterday was a very tough stage and we were both tired,” Sauser said. “Today we felt good and on the last climb we really went for it. We also made up some time on the flat sections whenever we could.”

Stage 2’s terrain was extremely technical and at times even the pros had to get off and carry their bikes. “It’s not that we wouldn’t be able to ride it, but in terms of race tactics walking is sometimes quicker,” Stander said. “You also don’t run the risk of injuring yourself or damaging your equipment. Our focus is to win overall — over the next days we won’t focus so much on winning the stages, but rather on maintaining our overall lead.”

Sauser’s tactics were to push as hard as possible on both the climbs and descents, sometimes making up a minute or more to increase their lead.

To the question of how he can keep up with Sauser being such an outstanding technical rider on the downhills, Stander said: “If you participate in the cross-country World Cup like I do, this pace is standard. If you can’t keep up, you’ll never get to the top. That’s probably one of the major differences — many of the other riders specialize in long distance and not fast cross-country racing.”

The winning women’s team for stage 2 was the Absa Ladies — Hanlie Booyens and Sharon Laws — who also kept their GC lead.

“It was a great ride today,” Booyens said. “We’ve actually stopped thinking about the competitive side of the race — the riding is tough enough. You just hope that you arrive in one piece, so we’re not looking at what the other teams are doing. We want to finish every stage well and ride at our own pace.”

American mountain bike pioneer Tom Ritchey continued on with his Rwanda B teammate, Rafiki Uwimana. The pair are in 81st in the men’s division, at 13:49:02.

Stage 3 will take riders from Villiersdorp to Greyton, a 73km route with 1,976 meters of climbing. The race concludes in Lourensford on Saturday after stage 7.

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