The first three days of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas have made for arguably the hardest start yet in the history of the race, but spirits are high, with many top riders agreeing that this is the best race yet in terms of organisation, route structure and, most importantly, food.
Riders bid farewell to Oudtshoorn at 7.00am yesterday morning, as they embarked on the third stage, faced with the toughest day of climbing, totalling 2 425 metres.
After completing Sunday’s gruelling 132 kilometres, the Monday route was considered to be the most physically taxing stage of this year’s race, despite perfect weather conditions in mild temperatures, clear skies and a slight breeze.
The day’s route took riders from Oudtshoorn to Ladismith through arid, ostrich country, and a high-speed start on a jeep track was soon replaced by a crawling pace as the riders hit the ruthless Fiellie’s Folly ascent of 430 metres.
Riders were then rewarded with one of the most enjoyable descents of the race – 30 kilometres of swift, open riding towards the next looming obstacle cheerfully dubbed the Calitzdorp Crusher.
After completing the Crusher’s three steep kilometres of loose, stony track, riders descended to find themselves at the base of another climb up the Huis Rivier Pass.
The final 35 kilometre stretch provided exhausted riders with graded open roads and the exquisite scenery of Seweweekspoort, as they catapulted towards the finish line in Ladismith.
Anke Erlank-Moore and Yolandè de Villiers of Team Duravit won their third stage in a row, despite experiencing seven punctures along the route. Due to this, the leading ladies were able to gain a lead of ‘only’ five minutes as opposed to their lead time of 35 minutes yesterday.
2006 Ladies Champion, Kerstin Brachtendorf of Team adidas Fiat Rotwild, says of Erlank and De Villiers: “Those two ladies in front are impossible to catch. They are much stronger, and we really want to focus now on defending our second position.”
Team IMC/Mongoose consisting of South Africans Yolandè Speedy and Paul Cordes clinched the top spot today in the mixed classification for the second day in a row, maintaining their overall lead by nearly twenty minutes.
This year, in an interesting twist, top South African female rider, Hannele Steyn-Kotze, partnered with Downhill champion Greg Minnaar. “I invite all people who think Greg cannot climb to come and watch this guy. He’s not only climbing, but he’s overtaking people in the climbs,” says Steyn-Kotze of her partner.
Plagued with six flats in the race so far, Steyn-Kotze and Minnaar hope for better luck tomorrow, aiming to secure a top five position.
On Tuesday speed skills will come into play as the route eases off on climbing, and beefs up on fast, open road riding, and riders will ride to Barrydale over speedy, wide and open roads, with a total climb just over half of today’s massive 2 425 metres.
Pos Team Rider 1 Rider 2 Stage Overall
1. Duravit Erlank-Moore Anke De Villiers Yolandè 6:30.57,3 17:25.59,9
2. Adidas Fiat Rotwild Brachtendorf Kerstin Troesch Daniele 6:35.47,9 18:28.15,1