Success for Schurter, Stirnemann, Suss and Stenerhag at Absa Cape Epic

The Jersey Winners during the final stage (stage 7) of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin to Val de Vie in Paarl, South Africa on the 26th March 2017 Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

The Jersey Winners during the final stage (stage 7) of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin to Val de Vie in Paarl, South Africa on the 26th March 2017
Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

It was sweet success for Nino Schurter, Matthias Stirnemann, Esther Süss and Jennie Stenerhag at the 2017 Absa Cape Epic.

Swiss duo Schurter and Stirnemann (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing) were first time winners of the men’s race, while Süss and Stenerhag (Meerendal CBC) claimed the Hansgrohe Women’s category.

It was Stenerhag’s first win in her fourth attempt, while for Süss it was a third title after winning the Mixed in 2011 and the Women’s category in 2012.

Stirnemann wins the Absa Cape Epic in his first attempt, while for Schurter, a bronze, silver and gold Olympic medal winner in cross-country racing, the win comes in his fourth Cape Epic – his previous best had been a fifth place in 2014.

The current Olympic and world champion, cool and calm as ever at the end, admitted that the strategy was always to come and win the Absa Cape Epic, but only in 2018.

“The plan was to come here in 2018 and win, but we are a year early!” said Schurter. “This is very special. To win the Olympics and then come to South Africa and win the Absa Cape Epic, that is great. After Rio it was always my intention to come and win the race, but this has taken us by surprise. I thought next year would be our year. We are ahead of schedule.”

Stirnemann called the moment ‘unreal’ and said only tonight or tomorrow will he be able to let it all sink in. “This is amazing, just amazing. I really can’t believe it.”

In the Hansgrohe Women’s category, there were emotional scenes at the finish. A year after having heart surgery Swede Jennie Stenerhag wept on Sunday as she and Esther Süss won the Absa Cape Epic in their first effort as a team.

“Since that day my biggest goal was to try and come back to win this race,” said Stenerhag. “To pull it off is something completely unreal. I cannot believe that I am standing here as the winner. I think we won by keeping everything smooth and consistent. We just kept calm and never thought we could win until now when we crossed the line.”

Experience and consistency were key to that win when Süss from Switzerland and Stenerhag crossed the line as third women’s team at the final stage to Val de Vie Estate near Paarl, but having done enough to claim a convincing victory overall in the Hansgrohe Women’s category.

Süss was ecstatic about the win.

“I am only happy, happy, happy!” said the 2010 Marathon World Champion. “It was quite tough and fast and you had to really be focussed because something can happen so fast. I am only happy.”

In the race for the Absa African special jersey, presented to the best all-African team at the Cape Epic, there was only going to be one winner after a strong week of riding from PYGA Euro Steel. Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys were in command of the jersey all week, and finished strongly yet again to claim seventh overall at the 2017 Absa Cape Epic.

“It was a great Absa Cape Epic!” said Buys. “It’s a pity we missed out on a stage win, but we really put everything out there today and we are really happy with the red jersey. We learned a lot this Epic, so I’m sure we will come back smarter.”

In the Virgin Active Mixed race the Scott-Sram Nextlevel duo of 22-year-old Rio Olympic Champion and 1996 world champion Jenny Rissveds of Sweden and 47-year-old Thomas Frischknecht of Switzerland were in a class of their own.

On Sunday they finished off a clean sweep of eight victories in eight days as they cruised to a massive 65-minute win overall over South Adfricans Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall (joBerg2c-Valencia), with Johan Labuschagne and Briton Catherine Williamson (RBI Tech – Mitas) a further 45 minutes a back in third.

In the Dimension Data Masters category, Australian Cadel Evans and American George Hincapie (BMC Absa Racing Team), riding in their first Cape Epic, got stronger with each day of the event. Starting the final day almost three minutes behind the category leaders Tomi Misser and Ibon Zugasti (Orbea Factory) of Spain, Evans and Hincapie cycled like demons to overtake Orbea Factory.

They eventually won the category comfortably, ending the day five minutes ahead of the team that had lead the category for most of the Absa Cape Epic. Evans and Hincapie finished 20th overall.

“I didn’t know it was this hard, but fortunately I got in shape as the race went on,” said Hincapie. “I stay relatively fit at home but not by any means for this kind of effort. I’d love to be back next year and race again.”

There was no such drama in the Grand Masters category, with Swiss/Austrian duo Barti Bucher and Heinz Zoerweg (Meerendal CBC 3) leading from start to finish. They finishing 34th overall and won their category by an extravagantly comfortable two-and-a-half hours.

Diepsloot MTB Academy riders William Mokgopo and Philimon Sebona crossed the finish line in high spirits yet again, and after an impressive week of riding, claimed the Exxaro special jersey and finished the event in 42nd place overall. As they crossed the line, a delighted crowd clapped and cheered as the pair exchanged high fives and hugs with their team managers.

“It was difficult stuff today,” said Mokgopo. “I’m not a flat terrain type of person, I prefer it up and down and that’s the type of rider I am. I just try relax more when it comes to flats and really push it in the undulations. But today we didn’t need to do any work, we just enjoyed ourselves.”

2017 Stage 7 Men

Stage Results

1. Scott-SRAM Young Guns 18-1 Michiel Van der Heijden (Netherlands) 18-2 Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland) 2:57.14,9
2. Trek-Selle San Marco 2 13-1 Damiano Ferraro (Italy) 13-2 Fabian Rabensteiner (Italy) 2:57.32,3 +17,4
3. SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing 5-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 5-2 Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland) 2:57.53,2 +38,3

Overall Results

1. SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing 5-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 5-2 Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland) 26:35.06,5
2. Investec-Songo-Specialized 3-1 Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) 3-2 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) 26:43.13,9 +8.07,4
3. Centurion Vaude 2 16-1 Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland) 16-2 Daniel Geismayr (Austria) 26:54.41,3 +19.34,8
4. Kansai Plascon 7-1 Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia) 7-2 Max Knox (South Africa) 26:55.39,2 +20.32,7
5. Cannondale Factory Racing XC 8-1 Manuel Fumic (Germany) 8-2 Henrique Avancini (Brazil) 27:04.57,0 +29.50,5
6. Scott-SRAM Young Guns 18-1 Michiel Van der Heijden (Netherlands) 18-2 Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland) 27:08.58,9 +33.52,4
7. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 27:36.12,8 +1:01.06,3
8. Topeak Ergon Racing 4-1 Alban Lakata (Austria) 4-2 Kristian Hynek (Czech Republic) 27:48.45,2 +1:13.38,7
9. Centurion Vaude 6-1 Jochen Kaess (Germany) 6-2 Markus Kaufmann (Germany) 27:52.40,6 +1:17.34,1
10. Claes – Carabin 24-1 Frans Claes (Belgium) 24-2 Sebastien Carabin (Belgium) 28:03.21,3 +1:28.14,8

2017 Stage 7 Women

Stage Results

1. Ascendis Health 51-1 Sabine Spitz (Germany) 51-2 Robyn de Groot (South Africa) 3:34.27,0
2. Hansgrohe Cadence OMX Pro 54-1 Mariske Strauss (South Africa) 54-2 Annie Last (England) 3:34.27,5 +0,5
3. Meerendal CBC 52-1 Esther Suss (Switzerland) 52-2 Jennie Stenerhag (Sweden) 3:34.41,9 +14,9

Overall Results

1. Meerendal CBC 52-1 Esther Suss (Switzerland) 52-2 Jennie Stenerhag (Sweden) 31:39.43,7
2. Hansgrohe Cadence OMX Pro 54-1 Mariske Strauss (South Africa) 54-2 Annie Last (England) 32:15.03,0 +35.19,3
3. Ascendis Health 51-1 Sabine Spitz (Germany) 51-2 Robyn de Groot (South Africa) 32:26.46,0 +47.02,3
4. Spur 50-1 Ariane Lüthi (Switzerland) 50-2 Adelheid Morath (Germany) 32:49.49,2 +1:10.05,5
5. Hollard-Velocity Sports Lab 138-1 Carmen Buchacher (South Africa) 138-2 Michelle Vorster (Namibia) 33:02.42,8 +1:22.59,1
6. DormaKaba SA 55-1 Candice Lill (South Africa) 55-2 Vera Adrian (Namibia) 33:15.00,7 +1:35.17,0
7. Meerendal CBC 2 53-1 Hielke Elferink (Netherlands) 53-2 Cornelia Hug (Switzerland) 33:57.00,1 +2:17.16,4
8. Merchants 438-1 Jeannie Bomford (South Africa) 438-2 Samantha Sanders (South Africa) 33:57.17,3 +2:17.33,6
9. LIVBeyond 667-1 Fienie Barnard (South Africa) 667-2 Dalene van der Leek (South Africa) 35:22.25,5 +3:42.41,8
10. Spur Foundation 57-1 Alice Pirard (Belgium) 57-2 Sabrina Enaux (France) 35:34.21,4 +3:54.37,7

2017 Stage 7 Masters

Stage Results

1. BMC Absa Racing Team 63-1 Cadel Evans (Australia) 63-2 George Hincapie (United States of America) 3:10.12,2
2. CST Sandd American Eagle 61-1 Bart Brentjens (Netherlands) 61-2 Abraao Azevedo (Brazil) 3:17.17,3 +7.05,1
3. Orbea Factory 35-1 Tomi Misser (Spain) 35-2 Ibon Zugasti (Spain) 3:18.16,9 +8.04,7

Overall Results

1. BMC Absa Racing Team 63-1 Cadel Evans (Australia) 63-2 George Hincapie (United States of America) 29:28.57,5
2. Orbea Factory 35-1 Tomi Misser (Spain) 35-2 Ibon Zugasti (Spain) 29:34.18,8 +5.21,3
3. CST Sandd American Eagle 61-1 Bart Brentjens (Netherlands) 61-2 Abraao Azevedo (Brazil) 29:36.07,6 +7.10,1
4. ROCKY MOUNTAIN – toMotion 62-1 Thorsten Keller (Germany) 62-2 Max Friedrich (Germany) 31:57.26,3 +2:28.28,8
5. LGE Midas/Slender-Wonder 330-1 Igna de Villiers (South Africa) 330-2 Paul Theron (South Africa) 32:07.34,8 +2:38.37,3
6. Oakhaven Capital 340-1 Michael Creedon (Ireland) 340-2 Andrew Cairns (South Africa) 32:36.19,6 +3:07.22,1
7. Podium Sports 65-1 Nic Lamond (South Africa) 65-2 Simon Lamond (South Africa) 32:43.41,7 +3:14.44,2
8. GACOSUR IEDES CENTAURO 68-1 Manuel Rojo Nieto (Spain) 68-2 Jorge Lopez Janeiro (Spain) 32:45.16,9 +3:16.19,4
9. Eurocasa Gaggenau 609-1 Richard Lurie (South Africa) 609-2 Brent Russell (South Africa) 32:51.07,4 +3:22.09,9
10. @40 64-1 Hannes Hanekom (South Africa) 64-2 Ben Melt Swanepoel (South Africa) 33:08.16,6 +3:39.19,1

2017 Stage 7 Grand Masters

Stage Results

1. Meerendal CBC 3 67-1 Barti Bucher (Switzerland) 67-2 Heinz Zoerweg (Austria) 3:22.24,7
2. ALAIN – KAPPIUS 130-1 Alain Broglia (France) 130-2 Alain Morra (France) 3:46.44,2 +24.19,5
3. Holte MTB Club 291-1 Bo Falck Hansen (Denmark) 291-2 Carsten Kristiansen (Denmark) 3:49.17,1 +26.52,4

Overall Results

1. Meerendal CBC 3 67-1 Barti Bucher (Switzerland) 67-2 Heinz Zoerweg (Austria) 31:23.01,5
2. ABSA Bus Boys 304-1 Greg Anderson (South Africa) 304-2 Deon Kruger (South Africa) 33:56.42,7 +2:33.41,2
3. Pitstop1Sport24hrs 342-1 Waleed Baker (South Africa) 342-2 Marius Nel (South Africa) 35:33.36,7 +4:10.35,2
4. Cape Airconditioning 594-1 Landon la Grange (South Africa) 594-2 Peter Winn (South Africa) 36:05.46,4 +4:42.44,9
5. Bestmed Jaguar Sandton 312-1 Rex Benson (South Africa) 312-2 Rory Mapstone (South Africa) 36:44.42,4 +5:21.40,9
6. ALAIN – KAPPIUS 130-1 Alain Broglia (France) 130-2 Alain Morra (France) 37:09.46,7 +5:46.45,2
7. Holte MTB Club 291-1 Bo Falck Hansen (Denmark) 291-2 Carsten Kristiansen (Denmark) 37:53.59,3 +6:30.57,8
8. PitstopSport24hrs3 483-1 Ahmed Zaid Mahomed (South Africa) 483-2 Dawood Osman (South Africa) 38:59.29,3 +7:36.27,8
9. Lab Rats 300-1 Arrie Rautenbach (South Africa) 300-2 Philip Vermeulen (South Africa) 39:12.00,1 +7:48.58,6
10. Pedal Damn It 481-1 Renaat Verbeke (Belgium) 481-2 Jozef De Meyer (Belgium) 40:08.03,0 +8:45.01,5

2017 Stage 7 Mixed

Stage Results

1. Scott-Sram Nextlevel 70-1 Jenny Rissveds (Sweden) 70-2 Thomas Frischknecht (Switzerland) 3:21.42,6
2. Joberg2C-Valencia 565-1 Grant Usher (South Africa) 565-2 Amy Beth McDougall (South Africa) 3:32.48,1 +11.05,5
3. Fairtree Capital 72-1 Corrie Muller (South Africa) 72-2 Mari Rabie (South Africa) 3:34.43,7 +13.01,1

Overall Results

1. Scott-Sram Nextlevel 70-1 Jenny Rissveds (Sweden) 70-2 Thomas Frischknecht (Switzerland) 31:27.29,4
2. Joberg2C-Valencia 565-1 Grant Usher (South Africa) 565-2 Amy Beth McDougall (South Africa) 32:32.49,9 +1:05.20,5
3. RBI Tech – Mitas 71-1 Johan Labuschagne (South Africa) 71-2 Catherine Williamson (England) 33:17.08,7 +1:49.39,3
4. Fairtree Capital 72-1 Corrie Muller (South Africa) 72-2 Mari Rabie (South Africa) 33:44.38,2 +2:17.08,8
5. New World St Martins 668-1 Willy Williams (New Zealand) 668-2 Kate Fluker (New Zealand) 34:06.01,3 +2:38.31,9
6. Motor Mile Racing 449-1 Bradley Cobb (United States of America) 449-2 Carla Williams (United States of America) 34:52.44,3 +3:25.14,9
7. Vejer Bike 625-1 Cristina Barberan (Spain) 625-2 Jesus Morillo Romero (Spain) 35:53.59,4 +4:26.30,0
8. Globeflight 49-1 Henning Blaauw (South Africa) 49-2 Louise Ferreira (South Africa) 36:34.59,7 +5:07.30,3
9. Comus Clif Bar 583-1 Jean-Luc Perez (France) 583-2 Muriel Bouhet (France) 36:36.54,2 +5:09.24,8
10. SAICA 139-1 Ila Stow (South Africa) 139-2 Darryn Stow (South Africa) 37:23.06,2 +5:55.36,8

2017 Stage 7 Absa African

Stage Results

1. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 2:59.15,8
2. NAD Pro MTB 14-1 Nico Bell (South Africa) 14-2 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 3:03.08,3 +3.52,5
3. Breedenet 549-1 Charl-Pierre Esterhuyse (South Africa) 549-2 CP van Wyk (South Africa) 3:03.37,7 +4.21,9

Overall Results

1. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 27:36.12,8
2. NAD Pro MTB 14-1 Nico Bell (South Africa) 14-2 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 28:05.11,6 +28.58,8
3. The Gear Change 141-1 Justin Tuck (South Africa) 141-2 David George (South Africa) 29:16.33,7 +1:40.20,9
4. SPOT Africa-Agrichem 39-1 Timothy Hammond (South Africa) 39-2 Dominic Calitz (South Africa) 29:43.20,5 +2:07.07,7
5. BCX 10-1 Hendrik Kruger (South Africa) 10-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 29:49.03,9 +2:12.51,1
6. Imbuko Freewheel Cycology 23-1 Christopher Wolhuter (South Africa) 23-2 Dylan Rebello (South Africa) 30:00.10,2 +2:23.57,4
7. NFB – Spine & Sport 27-1 Craig Uria (South Africa) 27-2 Andrew Duvenage (South Africa) 30:58.37,6 +3:22.24,8
8. William Simpson 33-1 Michael Posthumus (South Africa) 33-2 Derrin Smith (South Africa) 31:21.20,3 +3:45.07,5
9. LGE Midas/Slender-Wonder 330-1 Igna de Villiers (South Africa) 330-2 Paul Theron (South Africa) 32:07.34,8 +4:31.22,0
10. Provincial Logistics 335-1 Franso Steyn (South Africa) 335-2 Jandri Ferreira (South Africa) 32:20.02,8 +4:43.50,0

2017 Stage 7 Exxaro

Stage Results

1. DMA Absa 361-1 Sean Baloyi (South Africa) 361-2 Luke Mashiane (South Africa) 3:31.09,1
2. Diepsloot MTB Academy 1 376-1 William Mokgopo (South Africa) 376-2 Phillimon Sebona (South Africa) 3:31.24,3 +15,2
3. BMT Academy Fairtree 1 362-1 Luyanda Thobigunya (South Africa) 362-2 Baphelele Mbobo (South Africa) 3:36.53,3 +5.44,2

Overall Results

1. Diepsloot MTB Academy 1 376-1 William Mokgopo (South Africa) 376-2 Phillimon Sebona (South Africa) 32:20.28,6
2. BMT Academy Fairtree 1 362-1 Luyanda Thobigunya (South Africa) 362-2 Baphelele Mbobo (South Africa) 34:03.18,4 +1:42.49,8
3. DMA Absa 361-1 Sean Baloyi (South Africa) 361-2 Luke Mashiane (South Africa) 34:38.48,9 +2:18.20,3
4. Songo-Investec 1 373-1 Thando Klaas (South Africa) 373-2 Lorenzo Leroux (South Africa) 34:46.28,9 +2:26.00,3
5. Exxaro MTB Academy2 365-1 Anele Mtalana (South Africa) 365-2 Rilamulele Gadabeni (South Africa) 35:18.56,8 +2:58.28,2
6. RMB Change a Life 371-1 Ndumiso Dontso (South Africa) 371-2 Sipho Kupiso (South Africa) 36:04.52,1 +3:44.23,5
7. Land Rover 7 370-1 Syanda Masango (South Africa) 370-2 Luvuyo Siyasi (South Africa) 36:54.51,6 +4:34.23,0
8. RMB Change a Life 1 372-1 Bongumusa Zikhali (South Africa) 372-2 Mazwi Smimango (South Africa) 36:58.47,5 +4:38.18,9
9. BMT Academy 377-1 Abongile Bhusakwe (South Africa) 377-2 Siyabulela Tutu (South Africa) 38:32.43,8 +6:12.15,2
10. Absa DMA ROSS 305-1 Clement Mabula (South Africa) 305-2 Mphodisa Bruce Sebopa (South Africa) 38:40.58,3 +6:20.29,7

* The 2017 Absa Cape Epic has come to a close. One hundred Early Bird entries for the 2018 edition will be made available at 15:00 (GMT+2) on Monday, 27 March 2017.