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Cape Epic: Leader jerseys change hands as Batten and Gomez Villafañe move into lead

In the men's race, Blevins/Beers fall to seventh overall, as Swenson/Marotte move into third.

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Stage 1 of the Cape Epic saw the leader’s jersey change hands in both the men’s and women’s elite races.

In the women’s race, NinetyOne-songo-Specialized’s Haley Batten and Sofia Gomez Villafañe won the stage and took over the GC. In the men’s race, Andreas Seewald and Martin Stošek of the Canyon Northwave MTB team lead the GC after winning the stage.

Who to watch at this year’s Cape Epic

Stage 1 was the first marathon stage of the 2022 Cape Epic. The 92 kilometer stage took in 2,850 meters of climbing. The day began with a massive climb from Lourensford Wine Estate to the heights of the Helderberg Mountains. Then, riders ripped around the Helderberg Trails singletrack before the most challenging climb of the day, Die Nek, which came at around kilometer 45. Crossing Die Nek took the teams back into the Lourensford Trails, where a final brutal climb and more challenging singletrack led to the stage finish.

The second day of racing saw both teams who won the prologue stage fall in the rankings, due to illness. South African Matt Beers was plagued by stomach illness; he and partner Christopher Blevins finished 12th on the stage, pushing them to seventh in the GC. Nino Schurter and Lars Forster had another challenging day, as well, with Schurter puncturing again and having to replace his wheel.

Seewald and Stošek maintained a controlled pace through the entire day and were able to ward off mechanicals and illness.

On the women’s side, Pauline Ferrand Prévot was also beset by illness due to the heat during the stage. The Frenchwoman said on social media that she suffered “goosebumps, headache, small hallucinations” and that she had “never had a day like that in my whole career.” She and partner Robyn de Groot finished fourth on the stage and are currently fourth overall.

In the women’s field, the day was characterized by tight racing between the top three teams. Although Batten and Gomez Villafañe maintained an early lead, Gomez Villafañe started to falter going up the Die Nek climb. Here, eventual second place finishers Ariane Lüthi and Amy Wakefield (Symbtech ZA) were able to get a gap of nearly two minutes. Unfortunately, a late puncture for Lüthi allowed the Specialized riders to reclaim the stage. South African duo Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss finished third.

 

For many teams, stage 1 provided an opportunity to rise in the GC rankings. Santa Cruz riders Keegan Swenson and Maxime Marotte finished fourth on the day, bumping their overall rank to third. Schurter and Forster managed to climb to fifth position despite their two days of mechanicals.

On the women’s side, Liv Factory Racing’s Kaysee Armstrong and Sarah Hill jumped from ninth to seventh overall.

Tuesday’s stage 2 will take riders on another marathon day of riding — with 123 kilometers with 2,350 meters of climbing.

Full results here.