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Bulls rule, Burry second

The Bulls Team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm rode off with top honours as overall winners of this year’s exciting Absa Cape Epic on Sunday.

With a 10min 51sec lead time on Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser and┬á South Africa’s Beijing Olympian Burry Stander (Songo-Specialized by DCM) going into the final stage, the Bulls finished the last eight days of the 722-kilometre race in an overall time of 29 hours 47 minutes and 46 seconds.

In second place overall were Stander and Sauser in 29:57.49 and in third place the South African/Austrian duo of Kevin Evans and Alban Lakata (MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon) in 30:12.30.

It was the third Cape Epic win for Platt and Sahm also won the Absa Cape Epic in 2007 and 2009, while Platt won in the inaugural year (2004) with Mannie Heymans from Namibia.

He is the most successful participant in the history of the race having won four times and placing on the podium six times.

Hundreds of enthusiastic spectators welcomed the exhausted teams at the final finish line of this year’s event, hosted at the Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset-West.

The final stage took riders over 65km and 1 640m of climbing from Oak Valley to their final destination, Lourensford Wine Estate.

Multivan Merida’s Jos├® Hermida and Rudi van Houts were first to cross the finish line in the final stage in a time of 2:40.32 and they ranked sixth overall (30:44.56.8)

Said Sahm of the winning Bulls team: ÔÇ£It’s an incredible feeling ÔÇô words can’t describe it. It means so much to Karl and I. We arrived at the race as the defending champions and we successfully guarded our title. I had problems with my chain today and had to change it. It was nerve-wrecking.

“We enjoyed every second and every meter of the last few kilometers, and who knows, maybe we can do it again next year.ÔÇØ

Says Stander: ÔÇ£We’re very happy to finish second in this year’s race, but we still want to win. Everything has to get together all eight days of the race, and it didn’t always work out for us. I’m really looking forward to a week’s rest and then to the cycling season. This is excellent preparation for the World Cups. It gives you such depth ÔÇô all riders suffer at some point ÔÇô and in every race you suffer.ÔÇØ

In the women’s category the Danish sisters Kristine and Anna-Sofie Noergaard (team Rothaus-CUBE) finished in 37:31.03 and won their category, having also taken top honours in five of the eight stages in this year’s race.

In second place overall in this category were Hannele Steyn-Kotze and Ivonne Kraft (Team Sludge Ladies) in a time of 38:01.15 and in third place were Giuliana Vitali and Tamara Horn (team ÔÇô Big Tree) in 41:10.43.

Says Anna-Sofie Noergaard of team Rothaus-CUBE: ÔÇ£It was great to win. Today we rode carefully and safely as we didn’t want to take any chances. The other ladies really fought for a stage win and deserved it.

“Now I can’t wait to join my family and see my son again. It’s been a long week away from them, but I enjoyed the race very much.ÔÇØ Adds her sister Kristine: ÔÇ£It feels fantastic to finish the race and also to have won. South Africa and its people have been fantastic. The course this year was great ÔÇô still tough but not as bad as we expected.ÔÇØ

Says Hannele Steyn-Kotze of the Sludge Ladies who won the finals stage: ÔÇ£This is my home town and it was really nice to finish first. We knew it would take a lot but I so wanted to thank my family and friends for their support by winning this stage.

“Today I rode with my heart. This was my seventh Absa Cape Epic, but next time I’ll be doing it just for fun, and without the pain.ÔÇØ Added team-mate Ivonne Kraft: ÔÇ£It’s great to be finished. We’re very happy. It was a fair race against the Danish sisters and we won.

“It’s great to know we’re done and that we’ve finished together. This was my fourth Absa Cape Epic and from experience I know that if you’re still friends with your partner, you’ve done well.ÔÇØ