South Africans Kevin Evans and David George of Team Nedbank 360Life shrugged off the bad luck they’ve endured over the past week to claim a dominant victory on Stage 6 of the 2012 ABSA Cape Epic at Oak Valley on Saturday.
The sentimental favourites also continued their yo-yo-like status on the overall classification by moving from fifth back up to second with one day remaining. Overnight leaders and defending champions, Burry Stander (RSA) and Chistoph Sauser (SUI) 36One-Songo-Specialized finished the stage in second place six minutes 44 seconds down, while Alban Lakata (AUT) and Robert Mennin (GER) rounded out the podium places 8:55 behind the winners.
With over 2000 metres of vertical ascent to conquer, George and Evans went on the attack at the base of the first major climb. Stander and Sauser initally left it up to the other teams to defend the minor podium places being threatened by Nedbank 360Life, but later Stander and Sauser decided to break clear themselves and pursue Evans and George.
“In order to win the stage and get back up to second on General Classification, we knew we had to put on the pressure as early as possible. We have a lot of frustration built up from the last few days, but today we used it as our motivation. We had everything to gain,” said George. “The support of the crowds was incredible. We feel honoured to have such support.”
George and Evans experienced delays due to cut tyres on Stages 1 and 5, losing significant time and the possibility of challenging Sauser and Stander for the overall win. On Saturday they charged straight through both water points on their way to victory.
“The first water point was quite early on at the top of the first big climb. We had a good rhythm and enough supplements in our bottles so decided to just keep going,” explained Evans. “I thought the second water point was 10km from the finish, so didn’t want to stop there. But it turns out it was about 20km from the finish! That was a hard, but rewarding effort today.”
Evans and George extended their lead in the ABSA African Team competition, while Stander and Sauser still hold a substantial lead of 25 minutes 57 seconds over Evans and George in the General Classification, making Sunday’s short final stage virtually a victory procession.
In the Mixed category, South African couple Erik and Arianne Kleinhans, continued to dominate, winning their sixth stage and extending their overall lead. The Women’s race saw Esther Suss (SUI) and Sally Bigham (GBR) return to the top step of the podium after a near disastrous Stage 5. They also extended their General Classification lead in the process.
The Telkom Masters division bid farewell to an injured Nico Pfitzenmaier following a crash on Stage 5. The German, riding with South African Robert Sim on the Robert Daniel Momsen team, won four stages and held a commanding lead in the popular category. The Dutch pair of Bart Brentjens Jan Weevers claimed the Stage 6 win and opened up their lead overall.
Sunday’s Stage 7 is the final stage and takes the remaining 483 teams over a relatively short leg from Oak Valley to Lourensford Estate with 1350m of ascent.
Leading results after Stage 6:
1 Burry Stander (RSA) / Christoph Sauser (SUI) 36One-Songo-Specialized 29hrs 11min 39sec
2 Kevin Evans (RSA) / David George (RSA) Nedbank 360Life @ 25:57
3 Hannes Genze (GER) / Andreas Kugler (SUI) Multivan Merida @ 28:47
4 Thomas Dietsche (FRA) / Tim Boehme (GER) Bulls 2 @ 30:46
4 Alban Lakata (AUT) / Robert Mennen (GER) Topeak Ergon @ 31:35
1 Esther Suss (SUI) / Sally Bigham (GBR) Wheels4Life 35:19.59
2 Theresa Ralph (RSA) / Nina Gassler (NOR) Biogen Britehouse @ 47:01
3 Karien van Jaarsveld (RSA) / Jane Nuessli (SUI) MTN Qhubeka @ 1:27.14
1 Bart Brentjens (NED) / Jan Weevers (NED) World Bicycle Relief @ 32:46.34
2 Adrian Enthoven (RSA) / Delaney Impey (RSA) JAG Craft @ 1:17.41
3 Warren Squires (RSA) / Scott McKenzie (RSA) Complete Cyclist @ 3:22.39
1 Erik Kleinhans (RSA) / Ariane Kleinhans (RSA) Contego 28E 34:26.29
2 Udo Boelts (GER) / Milena Landtwing (SUI) Centurion Vaude @ 1:53.19
3 Klaas van Moortel (BEL) / Inne Gantois (BEL) BAIL Peak Performance Brugge @ 2:47.29