South Africans Burry Stander and Karien van Jaarsveld and their respective international teammates, maintained their lead in the men and women’s categories of the 2011 ABSA Cape Epic after Stage 4 in Worcester on Thursday.
Stander and his 36One-Songo-Specialized teammate, Swiss Christoph Sauser, charged to their fourth stage win in five days when they posted a time of 1hr 10min 01sec for the 32km time trail stage that started and finished at Worcester Gymnasium.The German Multivan Merida team of Hannes Genze and Jochen Kaess were second, 1min 32sec behind Sauser and Stander, with Spaniards Sergio Mantecon and Carlos Coloma (Wildwolf-TREK Pro Racing) completing the podium positions a further 2min 07sec off the pace.
Stander and Sauser extended their overall lead in the world’s most prestigious mountain bike stage race to 7min 49sec over Genze and Kaess, with defending champions, Stefan Sahm and Karl Platt (Bulls), lying third 11min 39sec back.
“With such depth in the field, we find it easier to take time out of our rivals in a time trial compared to trying to ride time into them on a normal stage,” explained Stander. “So today we went flat out and really enjoyed the course. As cross-country racers, the short, intense effort wasn’t too foreign and we managed to extend our lead bit more.
“Tomorrow we will continue with the same approach as we have adopted during the regular stages at this year’s event – race super hard on the climbs and ride steady the rest of the time just looking after our lead and hoping we don’t have any bad luck.”
In the women’s race, Van Jaarsveld and her teammate, Sally Bigham, the British marathon champion, finished the stage in second place but maintained their overall race lead. Winners of the stage were Italian Eva Lechner and Swiss, Nathalie Schneitter (Colgnago-Arreghini-Sudtirol) who clocked a fast time of 1hr 27min 16sec. They were almost 10 minutes faster than Van Jaarsveld and Bigham on the relatively short stage. Third place finishers were Australians Naomi Hansen and Jodie Willett (adidas).
Team USN now have a 25min 44sec lead over the all-South African ABSA aBreast team of Hanlie Booyens and Ischen Stopforth, with three stages remaining. Hansen and Willett are a distant third.
“Tomorrow’s stage is going to be tough so today we rode steady and didn’t over exert ourselves. The priority was to avoid any problems and maintain our overall lead,” said Van Jaarsveld. “We got a chance to recover a bit today because we took a bit of strain on yesterday’s hard stage. This race is so unpredictable but so important and we’re really just trying to ride smart.”
Germans Carsten Bresser and Udo Boelts (Team juwi) won their fifth consecutive stage to extend their lead in the Masters category. South Africans Robert Daniel and Doug Brown are distant second in the overall standings. A similar scenario exists in the Mixed category where the Swiss pair of Esther Suss and Barti Bucher (Wheeler BiXS) won their fifth stage in succession and increased their lead over South African Erik Kleinhans and Switzerland’s Ariane Luthi (Contego/Giant/Sludge).
At 143km, Friday’s Stage 5 is the longest of the 2011 edition of the race and one of the longest Cape Epic stages ever. It takes the riders from Worcester to Oak Valley and includes 2350m of vertical ascent with an 11-hour time limit.
For detailed results, race information and a gallery of images, visit www.cape-epic.com