Cape-Epic, RSA

Date: 27.03.2011 – 03.04.2011

Description: Mountain Bike Stage Race

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Sunday Prologue
27km, 750m climbin, 1.03h racing time
First Place, almost 2min ahead of Team Multivan Merida (Käss/Genze)

The first time ever that I felt comfi in a time trial racing together with Burry, and at the beginning I was even a little bit stronger, ha! Hopefully her reads this lines 🙂
All in all we have been a perfect match, so as our 29er dual suspension Epics. It felt like a flying sofa out there!

After the race the stress began. We thought there will be no official price giving in Tulbach (150km away from Prologue), and there was still antidoping to do (could not pee), back to Stellenbosch and packing, quick massage. Luckily we could sit into a BMW monster which raced us from Stellenbosch to Tulbach, and we made it time.

Monday, Stage 1
89km, 2050m climbing, 3.53hrs racing time
First Place, one minute ahead of team Stöckli

I could not sleep much this night. Was still quite pumped from the Proglogue, but felt rested after waking up at 5am with 6hrs of sleep.
It was super dusty at the beginning and actually I could not wait for the first real climb to get out of this dry powder!
I crashed in a steep dusty downhill, but I heard I was in good company of many other riders. Unfortunately for some racers with broken bones. I feel truly sorry for Kevin Evans who broke his collarbone today. The 360life team but so much energy and effort into this race. Have a good recovery Kevin, and sure you will be back strong again!

On the last climb Burry and I rode away, took it conservative in the downhill (like for the whole day), rode out of the last feed zone first and made a real move on the last 30km flat towards the finish.

Tuesday, Stage 2
104km, 2300m climbing, 4.30hrs racing time
First Place, 45sec ahead of Mulivan Merida

In my opinion todays first 1h climb was one of the best Cape-Epic’s long climb. All single trail and pretty smooth technical with a nice view. We came down the same trail again, and I must say that was even better, especially we were leading, with the Flückiger brothers on our wheels. We were a little bit stronger over the last few draging hills and broke away, yay! It is important for us to extend the overal lead!
Have to finish report NOW! Big pressure from Burry’s side here, because we have to be in time for our Supersport TV interview, which I am sure will start later the predicted anyway :-p

Wednesday, Stage 3
125km, 1900m climbing, 5.06hrs
Second Place, two seconds behind Multivan Merida

It was the roughest stage ever in Cape-Epic history, and when it was not rough then it was sandy, loose or running!
Even with our dual suspension Epic it felt like a bitch, and for the hardtailies must have been a tripple bitch and we dont even want to think about the backmarkers….

Helen our cook just made us awesome lunch. Fillet steaks, fresh pesto, bread, sweet potatoes, chicken skewers, fresh choc smoothie and much more. We are such a good and cool team! Thanks so much also to Pieter our soigneur and Dylan mr. mechanic! We really only have to pedal, eat and sleep!

Thursday, Stage 4, Time Trial
32km, 800m climbing, 1.10h racing time
First Place, more then 1.30min ahead Multivan Merida

I pretty much drafted the whole race behind Burry, except at one or two steep climbs. Just to show him I can lead too!
At least I suffered on a very hight level. Last year we won by around one minute on a similar course and length.

Just had a great massage and afterwards I runed off to the public showers. So my legs and face are shaved, plus got a good manicure and pedicure.

Friday, Stage 5
143km, 2350m of climbing, 5.20hrs racing time
First Place, 11sec ahead of Team Trek

Puh this was my second longest ride this year on a mountain bike. I have done a 165km one in January here in South Africa, but that took the whole day back then! By the way Ralph Näf joined as well who is racing here too.

Finally we had a old school (Knysna-Stellenbosch) Cape-Epic stage with lots of open fire roads. Good rolling and we even had time for two general pee stops!

I knew, even there will be some breakaways it will all come down to Groenlandberg, which is a monument in this race. We went over the top first but soon got joined by Multitvan Merida and Team Trek. On the last 1min climb Merida lighted it up, but we had a little bit more juice left and broke away on top. We almost got caught again by Trek, because just before the finish we were unsure with the route marking.

My today’s nutriton: 2 Sponser oat bars, 1 bottle Sponser Long Energy 10% Protein, 2 Sponser gels, 1 banana, 2 bottles of water, 2 muffins.

Saturday, Stage 6
119km, 2700m of climbing, 5.02hrs racing time
Second Place, around one minute down to M-M (Hermida-Näf)

This was the kings stage climbing wise, and that on the second last day. We all are quite tired now. Luckily I knew most of the route and that definitely helped.

For morst of the day the two Merida Teams, Trek and us were driving it, and the other strong teams just could hold on over the first 3 obstacles of the day, or could ride back in the flatish parts again. But after water point three big explosion happened! Hermida and Näf attacked, and we just could hold on, got dropped, came back, but then Burry’s tank was empty but still on a very high level! We made good time again in general classification to second and third. So tomorrow we have a really comfi lead, but in our mind we still stay focussed like on day one. I think to take a spare rear derailleur with us is a good idea…

My breakfast: porridge cooked with water and nutella. 1h before the start a espresso.

Sunday, Stage 7
68km, 1700m of climbing, 2.39hrs racing time
5th place, 6min down to todays winner team Trek
Winning overal in the total time of 28.45hrs

Finally I have the time to write about the final stage. It all went crazy afterwards and to some point it still is.

So happy ending on top of the podium after 4 years of trying it. We realized it again how quick a Epic dream can blow into the air. In the first downhill I cut my front tire. The first co2 bomb did not work, the second did but the valve somehow did not seal proper any more. I kept on loosing air and it was a big relieve after we arrived in the tech zone 30km later and we could change the leaking wheel.
Multivan Merida did not launch any attack during the entire Cape-Epic, but exactly when we had a mechanical they fired it up. They were up the road by 3min after we were back in the front pack. With the help of BMC we started chasing and soon we could see the two. From there on we were safe and enjoyed our time with Laurensford in close sight, the Champs Elysée of mountain biking! The huge crowd went crazy and it was a really emotional goose bump finish!

By the way I changed my breakfast strategy for the last day: dark hot chocolate (5 tea spoon with 100% baking choc) and home made rusks. 1h before start I had my espresso

By the way check also songo.info and I-am-Specialized.com for the daily updates!

Thanks everybody for all the cheering and congratulations! It is overwhelming! I never thought a ABSA Cape-Epic will ever turn into so big.

For example my maid who lives in a colored area with no dstv tv, was so sight. Now her grand kids like to become bike racers as well, and all they want to do is riding they’re bikes or push bikes!

My week has been very busy, with almost no riding. Now I am more then ready to be a bike racer again. I am looking forward to have 5 good training days ahead before I am traveling to Pietermaritzburg for cross country SA-Cup, followed with the world cup on the same course.

Pictures by: http://www.flipper.co.za