Max Knox and Thomas Zahnd ensured that Ian van der Walt, owner of DCM, is a more than proud event-sponsor when they completed a hat trick of victories by also winning the fourth stage of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek.
It is beginning to look more and more like the DCM-team will also win overall.
Knox and Zahnd’s winning time for the fourth stage from De Rust to Prince Albert (110km) was 4 hours 41 minutes and 32 seconds which means that they now have an overall lead of 18 minutes and 3 seconds on Kevin Evans and Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN-Energade).
The MTN-Energade Team’s hopes of winning the tour effectively ended when the chain on Niyonshuti’s mountain bike broke halfway during the fourth stage. Despite of a quick fix Evans and Niyonshuti just could not catch up with the leaders again. At the last water point they were forced to accept defeat.
Christoph Sauser and Silvio Bundi (Specialized-Songo.info) were the day’s other big losers. For the most of the race they were racing in front with the DCM-team taking turns to set the pace against a headwind that at time blew for nearly 70km of the route today.
All indications were that the two teams were going to battle it out in a sprint to the line, but it did not happen.
About two kilometers from the finish Bundi made a slight judgement error which led to his bike’s front wheel sliding out from under him. The rider from Switzerland crashed heavily into a thick sandy section.
He was back on his bike quickly but it was to no avail. Sauser and Bundi finished in 4 hours 41 minutes and 55 seconds, 23 seconds behind the winners.
Bundi refused to use his crash as an excuse.
“I am not so sure whether we would have been able to outsprint the DCM Team. “Suzi” already killed me with the pace he was setting.”
Knox once again made it clear that there can’t be any talk about a tour win until Saturday.
“The wheel is round. We had an easy week without any mechanical problems while everyone else had bad luck. When somebody has mechanical problems and lose time it is not the best way to win, but this is mountain biking where anything can happen at any time. When an opportunity arises you must make the most of it, because you never know when it is your turn to crash or fix a mechanical problem.
“I can just hope that our luck holds until Saturday.”
Zahnd agrees with Knox that they are the lucky team so far.
He had only two complaints after the fourth stage.
“There must be something wrong with my mountain bike’s fork because on the steep climbs and rocky descends I kept on hitting rocks. My arms are now even sorer than my legs.
“I am also never going to believe the stories they tell us at the race briefings. We were made to believe that after the climbs we were going to have an easy to ride to the finish however the organizers did not warn us about the headwind.”
Matthys and Gerrie Beukes (Mtbdestination.com) can certainly lay claim to be the DCM Cape Pioneer’s “comeback kids”. During the first stage Matthys Beukes had a bad puncture which led to them losing more than an hour.
The two brothers refused to let that get them down. From the second stage they have been slowly but surely gaining time on the leaders.
Yesterday they finished fourth in a time of 5 hours 2 minutes and 3 seconds.