Events

Sauser, Stander take over at Cape Epic

Reigning world marathon cross-country champion Christoph Sauser and his young teammate Burry Stander grabbed the overall lead of South Africa’s Absa Cape Epic in winning the race’ stage 1 from Knysna to George. The Rocky Mountain duo of Pia Sundstedt and Alison Sydor took the victory in the women’s race, also moving into the overall lead with seven stages remaining.

Sundstedt, Sydor move into lead of women’s race

By Fred Dreier

Sundstedt (left) and Sydor had their revenge after puncturing during Friday's prologue

Sundstedt (left) and Sydor had their revenge after puncturing during Friday’s prologue

Photo: Gary Perkin/Sportzpics

Reigning world marathon cross-country champion Christoph Sauser and his young teammate Burry Stander grabbed the overall lead of South Africa’s Absa Cape Epic in winning the race’ stage 1 from Knysna to George. The Rocky Mountain duo of Pia Sundstedt and Alison Sydor took the victory in the women’s race, also moving into the overall lead with seven stages remaining.

The first full stage of the 2008 Absa Cape Epic sent riders on a 123km journey from the beachfront city of Knysna into South Africa’s arid interior. Along the route to George, riders passed through jungle conditions, arid pine forests and even semi-arid plains. The opening climb up Simola Pass created the initial separation in the race, with the elite riders pulling away from the 1200-strong field.

Sauser, who won the Cape Epic in 2006 alongside Swiss Silvio Bundi, endured a difficult race in 2007 when his partner, Italian Johannes Pallhuber, had to drop out after stage 2. The Swiss did not have a partner nailed down for the 2008 event up until a few weeks before the event. A partnership was formed with Stander, South Africa’s national cross-country champion who rides for the GT team. Only 20, the South African Stander is in his first-ever Cape Epic.

Sauser (left) and Stander blazed to a stage win and the overall lead on stage 1

Sauser (left) and Stander blazed to a stage win and the overall lead on stage 1

Photo: Gary Perkin/Sportzpics

“I suffered during the first 50 kilometers and actually started to get worried,” Stander said. “But with 50 to go, my legs finally came back and I could help Christoph to win this part of the race.”

The duo crossed the line 30 seconds ahead of the reigning champion Bulls squad of Stefan Sahm and Karl Platt. But the day saw a big re-shuffling of the deck, with prologue winners Kevin Evans and David George (MTN Energade 1) crossing the line in 11th, 26 minutes down. The Cannondale-Vredestein squad of Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang finished 6th, nearly nine minutes in arrears. The American Trek-Volkswagen squad of Chris Eatough and Jeremiah Bishop finished a distant 14th, losing nearly 40 minutes.

1200 left Knysna for the finish line in George

1200 left Knysna for the finish line in George

Photo: Sven Martin/Sportzpics

Sundstedt and Sydor, who lost a minute to prologue winners Susan Haywood and Jenni Smith (Trek-Volkswagen) with a puncture, roared to life on the 123km opening stage. Their finishing time of 5:44:07 was nearly 10 minutes up on the Dolphin-Trek team of Fabienne Heinzmann and Katrin Schwing. Haywood and Smith, winners of the prologue, finished in third, nearly 20 minutes in arrears.

2008 Absa Cape Epic
Stage 1: Knysna-George 123km

Men
1. Songo.Info (Christoph Sauser, Burry Stander), 4:39:35
2. Bulls (Karl Platt, Stefan Sahm), at 0:31
3. Etto Hoydahl 3 (Martin Bratland, Kristian Torgersen), at 4:46
4. Etto Hoydahl 1 (Jo Nordskar, Anders Hovdenes), at 5:08
5. Alb-Gold Mountainbike (Hannes Genze, Jochen Kaess), at 6:03
6. Cannondale Vredestein (Roel Paulissen, Jakob Fuglsang), at 9:40
7. Full-Dynamix (Fredrik Kessiakoff, Massimo Debertolis), at 12:24
8. Dolphin (Bart Brentjens, Alban Lakata), at16:19
9. Etto Hoydahl 2 (Rune Hoydahl, Ola Kjoren), at 22:09
10. MTN Energade 2 (Mannie Heymans, Melt Swanepoel), at 24:14

Women
1. Rocky Mountain (Alison Sydor, Pia Sundstedt), 4:44:07
2. Dolphin-Trek (Fabienne Heinzmann, Katrin Schwing), at 10:13
3. Trek-Volkswagen (Susan Haywood, Jenny Smith), at 19:48
4. Absa Ladies (Erica Green, Hanile Booyens), at 25:17
5. Scott Contessa (Jane Seggie, Ischen Stopforth), at 25:55

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Results

2008 Absa Cape Epic
Stage 1: Knysna-George 123km

Men
1. Songo.Info (Christoph Sauser, Burry Stander), 4:39:35
2. Bulls (Karl Platt, Stefan Sahm), at 0:31
3. Etto Hoydahl 3 (Martin Bratland, Kristian Torgersen), at 4:46
4. Etto Hoydahl 1 (Jo Nordskar, Anders Hovdenes), at 5:08
5. Alb-Gold Mountainbike (Hannes Genze, Jochen Kaess), at 6:03
6. Cannondale Vredestein (Roel Paulissen, Jakob Fuglsang), at 9:40
7. Full-Dynamix (Fredrik Kessiakoff, Massimo Debertolis), at 12:24
8. Dolphin (Bart Brentjens, Alban Lakata), at16:19
9. Etto Hoydahl 2 (Rune Hoydahl, Ola Kjoren), at 22:09
10. MTN Energade 2 (Mannie Heymans, Melt Swanepoel), at 24:14

Women
1. Rocky Mountain (Alison Sydor, Pia Sundstedt), 4:44:07
2. Dolphin-Trek (Fabienne Heinzmann, Katrin Schwing), at 10:13
3. Trek-Volkswagen (Susan Haywood, Jenny Smith), at 19:48
4. Absa Ladies (Erica Green, Hanile Booyens), at 25:17
5. Scott Contessa (Jane Seggie, Ischen Stopforth), at 25:55