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Cape Epic: Batten and Villafañe top podium, while South African duo Joubert and du Toit nab first stage win

The American duo retains their overall lead, while Blevins and Beers sit seven minutes off the overall.

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On Friday, Sofia Gómez Villafane and Haley Batten (NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized) won stage 5 of the Cape Epic, tightening their grip on the overall leaders’ jersey.

The stage was a a battle between the Americans and Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss (Faces Rola) from South Africa. The two teams worked together throughout the 115km stage.

The racing became highly tactical before the final kilometers, with both teams waiting for the right moment to attack. Candice Lill was the first to attack, racing ahead of NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized at the base of the steep Botmanskop climb which comes at around kilometer 103 of the stage. Unfortunately, her partner Mariske Strauss was unable to follow.

NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized counter-punched and looked to have the stage buttoned up until Strauss attacked on the pavement at the 5k mark. This time Lill was unable to go, allowing Batten and Villafañe to punch up the final, short, steep Coetzenburg climb and motor down the descent.

BMC’s Pauline Ferrand Prévot and Robyn de Groot were fourth on the day, with de Groot suffering from illness. Liv Racing’s Crystal Anthony and Serena Bishop Gordon finished sixth.

The day’s win allowed Batten and Villafañe to move into a more comfortable overall lead, 15:49 ahead of Faces Rola.

In the men’s race, fresh faces took the podium with South Africa’s Marco Joubert and Pieter du Toit (Imbuko Type Dev) winning stage 5 after a break 70km into the 115km stage. The South African team, who is currently wearing the African red jersey, rode the last 45km of the stage alone.

Before the break, the South Africans yo’yo’ed with other teams in the lead group, including Canyon Northwave MTB, Bulls, Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized, Wilier-Pirelli and Wilier 7C Force. The team made their move when a gap opened among the lead bunch.

After Joubert and Du Toit made their move, Canyon Northwave MTB and Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized worked well together to ride as a four-man chasing pack. Andreas Seewald and Martin Stošek (Canyon Northwave MTB) ended up second at +2,06 with Christopher Blevins and Matt Beers (Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized) riding to third four seconds later.

Blevins and Beers moved up in the GC to second but their lead over third place Speed Racing Company is tenuous at eight seconds.

Two more days of racing remain, with Saturday’s stage 6 a vertiginous 2700m of elevation gain in just 76k of riding.


Cape Epic elite women’s overall results after stage 5

  1. Haley Batten / Sofia Gomez Villafañe (NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized), 26:12:46
  2. Candice Lill / Mariske Strauss (Faces Rola), at 15:49
  3. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot / Robyn de Groot (BMC MTB Racing), at 26:49
  4. Ariane Lüthi / Amy Wakefield (Symbtech ZA),  at 46:41
  5. Mari Rabie / Hayley Preen (Private Client Holdings), at 58:16

Cape Epic elite men’s overall results after stage 5

  1. Andreas Seewald / Martin Stošek (Canyon Northwave MTB), 21:33:09
  2. Christopher Blevins / Matt Beers (Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized), at 6:54
  3. Georg Egger / Lukas Baum (Speed Racing Company), at 7:02
  4. Hans Becking / José Dias (BUFF-MEGAMO), at 20:44
  5. Urs Huber / Simon Schellner (Bulls), at 27:23