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Cape Epic: Germans Repeat Overall Victory

Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, last year's winners of the Cape Epic in South Africa, repeated the feat on Sunday.

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The German duo of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm won the overall of the eight-day, 722km Cape Epic through South Africa’s Western Cape, clinching their victory with a fourth-place finish on the last stage.

World Cup force Jose Hermida and his teammate Rudi Van Houts won the final stage, a 65km route that saw 1,640m of climbing.

Platt and Sahm produced consistent podium finishes, but no stage wins, to take their victory. The duo placed second three times, third three times and fourth twice to post an overall time of 29 hours 47 minutes and 46 seconds.

In second place overall was the Swiss-South African pairing of Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander. The two streaked at times during the race, putting together three consecutive wins on stages three, four and five, which was a time trial. They finished nearly 10 minutes behind the Germans.

Finishing third at a time of 30:12:30 were South African Kevin Evans and Austrian Alban Lakata. The pair won stage one.

The team of Mathias and Lukas Flückiger of Switzerland finished fourth overall, but posted two victories on stages six and seven. Their final time was 30:12:06.

Stage 7

Rainy weather conditions greeted the Cape Epic for stage seven, a 99km jaunt with 2,160 m of climbing. The short sharp hills early on took their toll, with five minutes up and 15 seconds down.

The Flückiger brothers, Lukas and Mathias, bagged their second consecutive stage win on the day.

Lukas Flückiger of Trek World Racing said he and his brother lost Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel (Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing), who were riding very well until they had a mechanical.

“They were very strong and motivated today, but unfortunately had a technical problem about 20km before the finish,” Lukas Flückiger said. “We had a good rhythm behind them and then took the lead. Also, Karl (Platt) crashed during the last bit of singletrack so we could also gain some time on them. I’m actually very surprised by our stage win today.”

Stage 6

After six days of racing, Mathias and Lukas Flückiger of Trek World Racing climbed atop the podium at the Cape Epic on Friday.

And that was just the culmination of a day filled with 2,240m of climbs. The 123km stage six saw many short ascents, but some packed gradients as steep as 26 percent.

Following the Flückigers on the day was the team of Christopher Sauser and Burry Stander, who had won the previous three stages. Third on the day were Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, the overall leaders of the race and defending champions.

The biggest shift in the general classification going into stage seven is that team Songo-Specialized by DCM of Sauser and Stander has displaced Team MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon of Kevin Evans and Alban Lakata for second place.

Stage seven’s 99km will see Platt and Sahm (22:50:41) with nearly a seven minute lead of Sauser and Stander (22:57:37). Evans and Lakata sit at 23:00 followed by the winners of stage six, the Flückiger brothers, at 23:14:12.

Stage 5

Switzerland’s Christopher Sauser and his South African teammate Burry Stander are riding a hot streak at the Cape Epic.

After winning stages three and four, the duo made it three in a row Thursday by posting the fastest time in the time trial. The TT was 27km long and climbed a total of 860m. The route was a figure-eight through the foothills of Brandwacht and semi-desert vegetation.

Sauser and Stander topped the field with a time of 1hour 5 seconds. The team of South African Kevin Evans and Austrian Alban Lakata just nipped the German duo of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, at 1:06:25 and 1:06:29 respectively.

Platt and Sahm, last year’s Cape Epic champs, lead the race going into Friday’s sixth stage with a time of 18:10.50. The battle at this juncture of the race is for second, where Evans and Lakata sit at 18:17.04, just ahead of Sauser and Stander at 18:17.56.

Stage 4

The winners of last year’s Cape Epic, Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, are back on top after a strong stage four and now hold a nearly six-minute lead on the general classification.

Germans Platt and Sahm are at 17:04:21 going into stage five of the eight-stage, 722km race through South Africa’s Western Cape. GC leaders after stage one, Kevin Evans and Alban Lakata, are in second place overall at 17:10:39. After a rough start, the duo of Christopher Sauser and Burry Stander won the stage and are in third at 17:12:41.

Meanwhile, James Williamson, the 2006 Australian Solo 24hr Champion and 2008 World Solo 24hr Champion, died at the Cape Epic in South Africa on Tuesday.

Stage 3

Provisional results from Tuesday have the team of Christopher Sauser and Burry Stander winning stage three of the Cape Epic in South Africa.

With an overall time of 13:30.06, the German duo of Stefan Sahm and Karl Platt lead the general classification, followed by stage-two winners Bart Brentjens and Jelmer Pietersma at 13:34.10. In third are the winners of stage one, Alban Lakata and Kevin Evans at 13:36.36.

With their stage-three win the Swiss-South African duo of Sauser and Stander are slotted in fourth place. Their win came when almost half of the day’s 1,720m of climbing came in the first 40km of the 118 km stage.

Stage 2

Monday’s stage two was characterized by narrow, steep and rocky climbs that split the race apart. Brentjens and Pietersma of Trek-Brentjens won but only after Lukas and Mathias Flűckiger launched an attack, pushing hard during the singletrack sections in order to build up a lead of up about five minutes.

Due to sun and dust in the riders’ eyes, many of the leading teams didn’t even notice the breakaway. But then Lukas Flűckiger encountered a defect on his derailleur and had to walk for 2km to the next support station. However, he didn’t find the matching product among their spare parts, so in the end he had to ride a majority of the stage with a limited range of gears.

Meanwhile, the Scott-Swisspower MTB-racing team of Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel then saw the chance to escape and built up a lead of more than three and a half minutes. But that was short-lived, as they had a flat tire and had to change their wheel. The spare wheel did not have enough air, forcing the riders off their bikes to to pump it up, which cost them time. Shortly after they had yet another flat. The three chasing teams passed them, with Evans and Lakata of MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon and Trek-Brentjens realizing they were fighting for a stage win.

The entire eight-stage race covers 722km through South Africa’s Western Cape and includes a strong field of the world’s best cross-country and marathon racers.

Stage 1

One of the South African favorites to take top honors at this year’s Absa Cape Epic, Kevin Evans, and his Austrian Marathon Champion teammate Alban Lakata won the first stage of the race Sunday.

The Team MTN Qhubeka/Topeak  Ergon duo finished at 4:35.41 on the day, a 3 minute and 26 second lead over Christopher Sauser and Burry Stander who came in at 4:39.07. In third place were the Rabobank-Giant Off Road team of Emil Lindgren and Fabian Giger in a time of 4:39.56,4, followed by last year’s overall winners Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm of the Bulls 1 Team (4:40.17,8). The Flückiger brothers, Lukas and Mathias of Trek World Racing, finished fifth (4:40.22).

“Normally my first day is not a good one, but obviously we got a few things right today,” said Evans. “It was a roller coaster ride, and I even had a puncture, but we kept it together with Alban saying it’s never over until it’s over.”

South Africa’s Burry Stander, the reigning U-23 World Champion, said it was not a good day for him.

“I felt ill. It was difficult to hang on to the guys in front. I also had cramps in my legs on the railway line, but luckily a bad day is normally followed by a good one,” Stander said. “I hit a very fast pace from the beginning as riding in a pack in the technical sections with lots of sand and gravel is particularly difficult.”

Stage one saw 1,200 mountain bikers start the Absa Cape Epic with a rude awakening at the Diemersfontein wine estate, just outside of Wellington. Steep climbs gave them an early taste of some forest singletrack, with the finish in Ceres.

Homepage photo Photo by SPORTZPICS