Absa Cape Epic legends triumph at worlds

Lakata, Langvad take men’s and women’s titles in Germany.

Lakata, Langvad take men’s and women’s titles in Germany.

Top Absa Cape Epic performers dominated the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championship in Singen, Germany on Sunday.

The men’s winner of the 98km event was Austrian Alban Lakata while Denmark’s Annika Langvad swept home in the women’s race. Langvad is now the reigning cross-country and marathon world champion and has won the Absa Cape Epic Women’s category three times – an astonishing curriculum vitae.

Strongman Lakata is possibly the unluckiest elite rider to have competed in the Untamed African MTB stage race and is yet to win it after nine starts and eight finishes. “The Albanator” has finished second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and 10th and been plagued by bad luck.

Both had to see off mighty challenges from riders who have become well-known to Cape Epic fans over the years. Lakata finished one second ahead of second-placed Tiago Ferreira of Portugal, who finished fifth overall in the eight-day stage race in 2016. Bracketed on the same time as Ferreira but in third-place was young Austrian Daniel Geismayr, a four-time Cape Epic finisher who came home third in the rugged South African event this year.

Fourth in the men’s event went to cyclocross sensation Mathieu van der Poel of the Netherlands, who is increasingly making his mark on mountain biking events. Two-time Cape Epic winner Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic was fifth.

Langvad also had to sprint to her title, pipping German legend Sabine Spitz by just one second. Spitz – who has won Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals – has become familiar to South Africa for her Cape Epic heroics in the past two years,  when she finished second and third.

The top 10 was dominated by Cape Epic finishers including Norway’s Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja (third),  Austrian Christina Kollman (fifth), Swiss Esther Süss (sixth and this year’s Absa Cape Epic Women’s category winner), Sweden’s Jennie Stenerhag (seventh and Süss’s victorious Cape Epic partner this year) and Robyn de Groot (10th and the first South African home).

An indication of the strength of the women’s field this year is that De Groot finished just one minute and 36 seconds behind Langvad. Countrywoman Amy Beth McDougall, another Cape Epic finisher, claimed 15th.

Philip Buys and Erik Kleinhans were the first South Africans to cross the finish line in the men’s race, finishing 80th and 86th respectively, while Sthembiso Masango came home 159th.

“It’s great to see so many of our favourite riders doing well at the world championships,” said Absa Cape Epic Marketing and Communications manager Sarah Harrop. “This follows 2017 winner Nino Schurter’s dominant performances in recent cross-country World Cup events.”

She also paid tribute to another former Cape Epic finisher Greg Minnaar, who won his 20th World Cup Downhill title at Fort William, Scotland, earlier in June. “There are few riders who deserve to be called legends, but Greg is definitely one of them. Well done from the whole Absa Cape Epic team,” she said.

MARATHON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS

Men

  1. LAKATA Alban (Austria) 3:17:25 +0:00
  2. FERREIRA Tiago (Portugal) 3:17:26 +0:01
  3. GEISMAYR Daniel (Austria) 3:17:26 +0:01
  4. VAN DER POEL Mathieu (Netherlands) 3:20:07 +2:42
  5. KULHAVY Jaroslav (Czech Republic) 3:20:07 +2:42
  6. ROHRBACH Nicola (Switzerland) 3:20:07 +2:42
  7. BECKING Hans (Netherlands) 3:20:08 +2:43
  8. PAEZ LEON Hector Leonardo (Colombia) 3:21:14 +3:49
  9. ULMAN Matous (Czech Republic) 3:21:14 +3:49
  10. PERNSTEINER Hermann (Austria) 3:21:14 +3:49
  11. BUYS Philip (South Africa) 3:39:21 +21:56
  12. KLEINHANS Erik (South Africa) 3:41:44 +24:19
  13. MASANGO Shtembiso (South Africa) 4:29:55 +72:30

Women

  1. LANGVAD Annika (Denmark) 3:06:50 +0.00
  2. SPITZ Sabine (Germany) 3:06:51 +0:01
  3. DAHLE FLESJA Gunn-Rita (Norway) 3:06:58 +0:08
  4. NEFF Jolanda (Switzerland) 3:07:01 +0:11
  5. KOLLMANN Christina (Austria) 3:07:34 +0:44
  6. SUSS Esther (Switzerland) 3:08:00 +1:10
  7. STENERHAG Jennie (Sweden) 3:08:03 +1:13
  8. ULRICH Silke (Germany) 3:08:07 +1:17
  9. SOSNA Katazina (Lithuania) 3:08:26 +1:36
  10. DE GROOT Robyn (South Africa) 3:08:26 +1:36
  11. BUCHACHER Carmen (Austria) 3:11:41 +4:51 +1:46
  12. MCDOUGALL Amy (South Africa) 3:12:13 +5:23
  13. LUTHI Ariane (Switzerland) 3:13:08 +6:18

* The 2018 Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race takes place from 18 to 25 March.