The Bulls team of Karl Platt and Urs Huber won Tuesday’s 146-kilometre second stage of the gruelling Absa Cape Epic in 5hr 35min 32,1sec.
The teams raced from Citrusdal to Tulbagh and the route included 2,350 metres of climbing. Among the finishers were our Olympic gold medal-winning rowers Matthew Brittain and James Thompson.
Platt has won the event four times and this is his 13th Absa Cape Epic stage win of his career. They were followed by the Bulls 2 team of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme in 5:41.20,6 with Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy of Burry Stander ÔÇô SONGO in third place (5:44.16,2). Monday’s winners Jos├® Hermida and Rudi van Houts finished in fifth place in 5:47.00,4.
Platt and Huber (Bulls) now lead the men’s category by 6:23 (11:05,08,4). Dietsch and Boehme (Bulls 2) are placed second overall (11:11.31,4) and Sauser and Kulhavy (Burry Stander ÔÇô SONGO) are third in 11:13.12,3. Multivan Merida’s Jos├® Hermida and Rudi van Houts are in fourth place overall (11:14.14,2).
Says Huber of the Bulls team: ÔÇ£It all feels like a dream. It’s my first stage win at the Absa Cape Epic. We were fighting hard today and it was a really good day for me. I hope we can keep our rhythm for the next few stages.ÔÇØ┬á Platt adds: ÔÇ£I can’t find any words to express how I feel. We were hoping for a stage win at this year’s race, but didn’t expect it on Stage 2. This is the Absa Cape Epic ÔÇô you need to improvise, take your chances and go for it. We were also riding conservatively today. At one point Kulhavy attacked and we just tried to keep up. He was going very fast ÔÇô I can see why he is the Olympic champion.ÔÇØ
Says Van Houts of Multivan Merida: ÔÇ£We lost some time today as we had a puncture and had to replace a tube.ÔÇØ His teammate Hermida added: ÔÇ£And if you ride on your own it’s difficult to ride as fast as when you’re with the group which keeps pushing you. But we rode at a steady pace and eventually joined up with the second group. We also rode carefully as we didn’t want to get a puncture again.ÔÇØ
Jaroslav Kulhavy (Burry Stander ÔÇô SONGO) broke his chain during the race today. ÔÇ£It was very hard and very hot. Now I know what everyone means when they talk about how hard the Absa Cape Epic can be.ÔÇØ
In the women’s category African/British duo Yolande Speedy and Catherine Williamson (Energas) won Tuesday’s stage in a time of 6:51.21,7. They were followed by the Pragma Volcan Ladies, Hanlie Booyens and Ischen Stopforth in 7:18.30,2 (overall 14:37.37,8). In third place were Kath Kelly and Erin Greene of www.rrsport.co.nz in 7:27.53,9 (overall 15:06.25,6). Speedy and Williamson now lead this category by 36:07.
Says Speedy (Energas): ÔÇ£I must confess my partner is a powerhouse ÔÇô she’s really strong. Esther and Jane must have had some problems. Hanlie and Ischen caught up with us and we were riding as hard as we could to the finish. It was a super fast stage for us, even with the sting in the tail at the end. It’s very nice to win a stage. We just hope that Esther and Jane are OK. It’s so sad that Sally and Milena had to withdraw yesterday due to illness.ÔÇØ Adds Williamson: ÔÇ£It was a very long, hard stage, but winning a stage is brilliant. I kept looking behind me ÔÇô I was really worried that the others were going to catch up with us. I think we ruined a few egos along the way today.ÔÇØ
Esther S├╝ss and Jane Nuessli of BMC Wheeler had some bad luck today. Says S├╝ss: ÔÇ£I had a tummy bug and ┬áfelt very weak. After the first few kilometers I said to Jane that my legs aren’t feeling strong and that I’m not sure if I can do this. Jane said that whatever I decide to do, would be fine ÔÇô she’ll support me.ÔÇØ Adds Nuessli, who was in tears: ÔÇ£Esther just carried on. I’ve never seen such courage. She’s a real tough cookie and I’m so proud of her.ÔÇØ S├╝ss added: I would not have been able to finish today without Jane. She supported me the whole way without complaining.ÔÇØ
Wednesday’s third stage is a loop starting and finishing at Saronsberg Wine Estate and is logged at 94km, with 1,950m of climbing.
Meanwhile, our Olympic rowing champions┬á Brittain and┬á Thompson of team PwC Rowers Ride for JAG successfully completed stage two in a time of 5:47.21, 6.
With an overall time of 6hr 53.19.7, Brittain and Thompson are placed 42nd in the men’s category and 54th overall at the end of stage two.
Brittain (25) and Thompson (26) won gold medals in the men’s lightweight cox less fours at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Says Thompson: ÔÇ£Bikes have always been a passion for both of us. We’ve always asked whether you can do the Cape Epic on rowing toning, and after the games we sort of got the opportunity through Kevin Vermaak and then obviously through PwC. They gave us this opportunity to come ride it and now we’re just seeing if it’s possible. We’ve managed to but it’s pretty real out there. It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that for sure ÔÇô we’re used to much shorter training. So to do the long stuff is a lot harder, a very different environment for us but we really enjoyed it.ÔÇØ
Commenting on his health in this race Brittain says: ÔÇ£I got better and better through the day, but still not perfect, still really queasy. Every time I eat something or go hard then there’s a bit of nausea. I think I got a bit of a fever or something. Feeling pretty cold and hot the whole ride, but I’m going to shower and see the doctor and see what they have to say about that.ÔÇØ
Says Brittain, ÔÇ£Everyone knows the Epic is hard but I don’t think people realise how hard. It’s day in, day out hard and we’ve only done two days so far. I think by the end of the week everyone is going to be pretty tired. The terrain is tough and the distances are long, and its relentless, it doesn’t stop. But it’s awesome, we really enjoyed it. I think I can tick it off my bucket list.ÔÇØ
Thompson adds that they are riding for the JAG foundation. ÔÇ£We’re looking to raise funds through their give and gain website that can be used to educate and develop children in need, using the platform of sport. Sport has taught me so much and so I understand the value they can add to these kids’ lives.ÔÇØ