South African Burry Stander and his Swiss teammate Christoph Sauser of the 36One-Songo-Specialized team appear set to successfully defend their ABSA Cape Epic title after winning Stage 3 on Wednesday, the 2012 edition’s queen stage over 143km from Robertson to Caledon.
Stander and Sauser were hardly troubled in the race’s longest stage and rode away from breakaway companions Kevin Evans and David George (Nedbank 360Life) at the end of the stage to claim their third stage victory of the 2012 edition.
Hot, dry conditions over some tough terrain, greeted the 550 teams of two remaining in the event and included 2900 metres of vertical ascent.
Clocking a time of 5 hours 31 minutes 04 seconds, Sauser and Stander extended their overall lead to just over 18 minutes over their nearest rivals with four stages remaining. They matched every move made by Evans and George, who were on a mission to reclaim time they lost due to a damaged tyre on Stage 1.
After the 90km point when Evans and George attacked, it was a two-team race between 36One-Songo-Specialzed and Nedbank 360Life. As leaders, Stander and Sauser weren’t under any obligation to set the pace, forcing George and Evans to do most of the work. Evans and George finished the stage in second place, three seconds down on Stander and Sauser, but more than eight-and-a-half minutes ahead of the third-placed Multivan Merida pair of Hannes Genze (GER) and Andreas Kugler (SUI).
The South African pair moved up to seventh place overall and into the lead in the African Team competition.
“I was relieved when Christoph went on the attack for the finish, because when it comes to sprinting, he’s not really that good at it. So I had only to beat one of the two 360Life riders for the stage win,” Stander told the media afterwards.
“I know there are some people who will wonder why we didn’t give the stage win away, but the Cape Epic is not the place to give gifts. We deserved the win today. We love winning stages and we’re always at the start line with victory in mind.
“I was really nervous about this stage at the start this morning because I’m focussing on the Olympic Games and there it’s cross-country racing that is less than two hours. I haven’t been training for long races like this, but I’m more than happy with the way it’s going at the moment.”
South African couple Erik and Ariane Kleinhans secured their third consecutive stage win to extend their overall lead in the Mixed category, while another South African, Robert Sim and his German partner, Nico Pfitzenmaier (Robert Daniel Momsen), extended their lead in the Master’s category, after winning the stage by more than seven minutes. In the women’s race, it was a fourth consecutive victory for Esther Suss (SUI) and Sally Bigham (GBR) of Team Wheels4Life.
Thursday’s Stage 4 is over 105km with 2600m of ascent. Starting and finishing in Caledon, the terrain is particularly rugged and is expected to be as much of a challenge as Stage 3.
Leading results after Stage 3:
1 Burry Stander (RSA) / Christoph Sauser (SUI) 36One-Songo-Specialized 15hr 37min 33sec
2 Urs Huber (SUI) / Konny Looser (SUI) Stockli-Pro 15:56.08
3 Alban Lakata (AUT) / Robert Mennin (GER) Topeak Ergon Racing 15:56.36
4 Karl Platt (GER) / Stefan Sahm (GER) Bulls 15:59.27
5 Thomas Dietsche (FRA) / Tim Boehme (GER) Bulls 16:00.20
1 Esther Suss (SUI) / Sally Bigham (GBR) Wheels4Life 18:10.51
2 Theresa Ralph (RSA) / Nina Gassler (NOR) Biogen Britehouse 18:45.38
3 Karien van Jaarsveld (RSA) / Jane Nuessli (SUI) 19:19.14
1 Robert Sim (RSA) / Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) Robert Daniel Momsen 16:58.02
2 Adrian Enthoven (RSA) / Delaney Impey (RSA) JAG Craft 17:21.46
3 Bart Brentjens (NED) / Jan Weevers (NED) 17:43.09
1 Erik Kleinhans (RSA) / Ariane Kleinhans (RSA) Contego 28E 17:50.05
2 Udo Boelts (GER) / Milena Landtwing (SUI) Centurion Vaude 18:19.53
3 Pieter Venter (RSA) / Leana de Jager (RSA) Attix5 19:20.00
For full General Classification and Stage 3 results, photos, videos and more race information, visit www.cape-epic.com