Women extend lead, men’s race opens up

Esther Süss and Jenny Stenerhag on their way to win stage 4 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Elandskloof in Greyton to Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 23rd March 2017 Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Esther Süss and Jenny Stenerhag on their way to win stage 4 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Elandskloof in Greyton to Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 23rd March 2017
Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Jennie Stenerhag and Esther Suss (Meerendal CBC) extended their lead in the Hansgrohe Women’s category after Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic, while Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing) took a decent bite out of Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini’s (Cannondale Factory Racing XC) lead in the men’s race.

Debutants Andri Frischknecht and Michiel Van der Heijden (SCOTT-SRAM Young Guns) ruled the day on Stage 4, crossing the line first in a time of 4:10.00,3 with Schurter and Stirnemann popping wheelies (almost into the fencing) right behind them.

Finishing second on the day was enough to move Schurter and Stirnemann into second overall, with Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Investec-Songo-Specialized) slipping to third. They finished fourth on the day, thanks to a puncture late in the stage.

Overall leaders Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory Racing XC) finished third on Stage 4, two-and-a-half minutes off the pace. Their time was enough to retain the yellow zebra jersey, though.

Stage winner Andri Frischknecht was thrilled with the result. “We are very happy and very surprised. When we looked at the stage – 112km – our main aim was just to survive. But this stage win is amazing; super cool. Riding with Nino and Matthias was great motivation, and when we managed the last sandy climb quite well, we started to think that we could take the stage. It was horrible (up the climb) but we made it!”

The pendulum in the Hansgrohe Women’s category at the Absa Cape Epic swung a little more toward a victory for Suss and Stenerhag with the duo adding another three minutes 40 to their lead after the 112km Stage 4 from Greyton to Elgin.

The Meerendal CBC pair were able to take advantage of some bad luck at a crucial point in Thursday’s race when Sabine Spitz sliced the sidewall of her front tyre and the Ascendis Health team were forced to let the race leaders ride off into the distance.

Ascendis Health’s problems also allowed the young Hansgrohe Cadence OMX Pro team of Mariske Strauss and Annie Last to claim second position on the stage, three minutes behind the race leaders, and consolidate their third position overall.

Stenerhag was content to take the win and even more pleased to have extended their overall lead to a solid 12 minutes 40 seconds with just three stages remaining.

“Obviously we are happy with the win,” said Stenerhag. “It is not that nice to win because of somebody else’s bad luck, but it is all racing and we have to be happy with the win and extend our lead a little bit.”

In the race for the Absa African special jersey, the PYGA Euro Steel pair of Matthys Beukes and Phil Buys retain a healthy lead, despite losing ground on Stage 4 to Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB).

“Conditions were good. It had been raining nonstop last month in Nelspruit so we are used to cooler temperatures. Today was a little less punchy so it suited us better,” said Combrinck.

Bell and Combrinck finished the day in ninth, six minutes ahead of Beukes and Buys, but the Absa African special jersey leaders still hold a commanding 17 minute lead overall in the category.

Meanwhile, William Mokgopo and Phillimon Sebona (Team Diepsloot MTB Academy) strengthened their grip on the Exarro special jersey, romping home on Stage 4 in a time of 5:09.13,9. They now have a seemingly unassailable hour-plus lead in the category over Luyanda Thobigunya and Baphelele Mbobo (Team BMT Academy Fairtree).

The Dimension Data Masters category on Stage 4 was won by Absa Cape Epic newbies Cadel Evans and George Hincapie (BMC Absa Racing Team). The pair have been acclimatising steadily to the demands of the race and now lie just nine minutes off first place in the category. The overall leaders in the Masters category, Tomi Misser and Ibon Zugasti (Orbea Factory) finished third on Stage 4, with Bart Brentjens and Abraao Azevedo (CST Sandd American Eagle) taking second.

Barti Bucher and Heinz Zoerweg (Meerendal CBC 3) continued their impressive ride in the Grand Masters category, claiming stage 4 in a time of 4:59.47,1. Their nearest rivals for the jersey sit almost an hour behind them in overall time.

Jenny Rissveds and Thomas Frischknecht winning the mixed category during stage 4 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Elandskloof in Greyton to Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 23rd March 2017 Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Jenny Rissveds and Thomas Frischknecht winning the mixed category during stage 4 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Elandskloof in Greyton to Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 23rd March 2017
Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

And Olympic gold medallist Jenny Rissveds and her partner Thomas Frischknecht Scott-SRAM Nextlevel have tightened their grip on the Virgin Active Mixed category with another stage and are nearly 25 minutes ahead of Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall (joBerg2c-Valencia). It is Rissveds’ first Absa Cape Epic and she is clearly enjoying the experience.

Former Olympic triathlete Mari Rabie and partner Corrie Muller (Fairtree Capital) finished third on the day.

2017 Stage 4 Masters

Stage Results

1. BMC Absa Racing Team 63-1 Cadel Evans (Australia) 63-2 George Hincapie (United States of America) 4:38.28,7
2. CST Sandd American Eagle 61-1 Bart Brentjens (Netherlands) 61-2 Abraao Azevedo (Brazil) 4:39.13,4 +44,7
3. Orbea Factory 35-1 Tomi Misser (Spain) 35-2 Ibon Zugasti (Spain) 4:41.00,1 +2.31,4

Overall Results

1. Orbea Factory 35-1 Tomi Misser (Spain) 35-2 Ibon Zugasti (Spain) 17:09.17,7
2. CST Sandd American Eagle 61-1 Bart Brentjens (Netherlands) 61-2 Abraao Azevedo (Brazil) 17:12.24,1 +3.06,4
3. BMC Absa Racing Team 63-1 Cadel Evans (Australia) 63-2 George Hincapie (United States of America) 17:18.40,4 +9.22,7
4. ROCKY MOUNTAIN – toMotion 62-1 Thorsten Keller (Germany) 62-2 Max Friedrich (Germany) 18:32.49,5 +1:23.31,8
5. GACOSUR IEDES CENTAURO 68-1 Manuel Rojo Nieto (Spain) 68-2 Jorge Lopez Janeiro (Spain) 18:36.01,8 +1:26.44,1
6. LGE Midas/Slender-Wonder 330-1 Igna de Villiers (South Africa) 330-2 Paul Theron (South Africa) 18:38.04,3 +1:28.46,6
7. @40 64-1 Hannes Hanekom (South Africa) 64-2 Ben Melt Swanepoel (South Africa) 18:41.42,4 +1:32.24,7
8. Eurocasa Gaggenau 609-1 Richard Lurie (South Africa) 609-2 Brent Russell (South Africa) 19:03.26,1 +1:54.08,4
9. Podium Sports 65-1 Nic Lamond (South Africa) 65-2 Simon Lamond (South Africa) 19:06.43,0 +1:57.25,3
10. Oakhaven Capital 340-1 Michael Creedon (Ireland) 340-2 Andrew Cairns (South Africa) 19:17.24,4 +2:08.06,7

2017 Stage 4 Grand Masters

Stage Results

1. Meerendal CBC 3 67-1 Barti Bucher (Switzerland) 67-2 Heinz Zoerweg (Austria) 4:59.47,1
2. ABSA Bus Boys 304-1 Greg Anderson (South Africa) 304-2 Deon Kruger (South Africa) 5:19.36,2 +19.49,1
3. Pitstop1Sport24hrs 342-1 Waleed Baker (South Africa) 342-2 Marius Nel (South Africa) 5:21.14,5 +21.27,4

Overall Results

1. Meerendal CBC 3 67-1 Barti Bucher (Switzerland) 67-2 Heinz Zoerweg (Austria) 18:15.30,8
2. ABSA Bus Boys 304-1 Greg Anderson (South Africa) 304-2 Deon Kruger (South Africa) 19:13.22,0 +57.51,2
3. Pitstop1Sport24hrs 342-1 Waleed Baker (South Africa) 342-2 Marius Nel (South Africa) 20:25.31,2 +2:10.00,4
4. Cape Airconditioning 594-1 Landon la Grange (South Africa) 594-2 Peter Winn (South Africa) 21:00.56,6 +2:45.25,8
5. Bestmed Jaguar Sandton 312-1 Rex Benson (South Africa) 312-2 Rory Mapstone (South Africa) 21:37.33,9 +3:22.03,1
6. Holte MTB Club 291-1 Bo Falck Hansen (Denmark) 291-2 Carsten Kristiansen (Denmark) 22:01.33,0 +3:46.02,2
7. ALAIN – KAPPIUS 130-1 Alain Broglia (France) 130-2 Alain Morra (France) 22:10.03,5 +3:54.32,7
8. Lab Rats 300-1 Arrie Rautenbach (South Africa) 300-2 Philip Vermeulen (South Africa) 22:31.49,1 +4:16.18,3
9. PitstopSport24hrs3 483-1 Ahmed Zaid Mahomed (South Africa) 483-2 Dawood Osman (South Africa) 22:45.39,3 +4:30.08,5
10. Gutta Boyz 412-1 Ivar Tollefsen (Norway) 412-2 Trond Hilde (Norway) 23:00.10,7 +4:44.39,9

2017 Stage 4 Mixed

Stage Results

1. Scott-Sram Nextlevel 70-1 Jenny Rissveds (Sweden) 70-2 Thomas Frischknecht (Switzerland) 4:54.59,2
2. Joberg2C-Valencia 565-1 Grant Usher (South Africa) 565-2 Amy Beth McDougall (South Africa) 5:03.21,0 +8.21,8
3. Fairtree Capital 72-1 Corrie Muller (South Africa) 72-2 Mari Rabie (South Africa) 5:07.02,5 +12.03,3

Overall Results

1. Scott-Sram Nextlevel 70-1 Jenny Rissveds (Sweden) 70-2 Thomas Frischknecht (Switzerland) 18:16.07,2
2. Joberg2C-Valencia 565-1 Grant Usher (South Africa) 565-2 Amy Beth McDougall (South Africa) 18:40.53,6 +24.46,4
3. RBI Tech – Mitas 71-1 Johan Labuschagne (South Africa) 71-2 Catherine Williamson (England) 19:10.35,8 +54.28,6
4. Fairtree Capital 72-1 Corrie Muller (South Africa) 72-2 Mari Rabie (South Africa) 19:47.38,6 +1:31.31,4
5. New World St Martins 668-1 Willy Williams (New Zealand) 668-2 Kate Fluker (New Zealand) 20:07.02,2 +1:50.55,0
6. Motor Mile Racing 449-1 Bradley Cobb (United States of America) 449-2 Carla Williams (United States of America) 20:24.34,5 +2:08.27,3
7. Meerendal CBC 4 432-1 Heinz Posch (Switzerland) 432-2 Nina Brenn (Switzerland) 20:39.39,8 +2:23.32,6
8. Vejer Bike 625-1 Cristina Barberan (Spain) 625-2 Jesus Morillo Romero (Spain) 20:50.33,5 +2:34.26,3
9. Comus Clif Bar 583-1 Jean-Luc Perez (France) 583-2 Muriel Bouhet (France) 21:12.42,2 +2:56.35,0
10. Globeflight 49-1 Henning Blaauw (South Africa) 49-2 Louise Ferreira (South Africa) 21:20.30,3 +3:04.23,1

2017 Stage 4 Absa African

Stage Results

1. NAD Pro MTB 14-1 Nico Bell (South Africa) 14-2 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 4:16.39,3
2. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 4:22.38,2 +5.58,9
3. The Gear Change 141-1 Justin Tuck (South Africa) 141-2 David George (South Africa) 4:33.27,8 +16.48,5

Overall Results

1. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 15:55.21,2
2. NAD Pro MTB 14-1 Nico Bell (South Africa) 14-2 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 16:12.20,0 +16.58,8
3. BCX 10-1 Hendrik Kruger (South Africa) 10-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 16:24.06,7 +28.45,5
4. The Gear Change 141-1 Justin Tuck (South Africa) 141-2 David George (South Africa) 16:52.34,2 +57.13,0
5. SPOT Africa-Agrichem 39-1 Timothy Hammond (South Africa) 39-2 Dominic Calitz (South Africa) 17:04.01,7 +1:08.40,5
6. Imbuko Freewheel Cycology 23-1 Christopher Wolhuter (South Africa) 23-2 Dylan Rebello (South Africa) 17:25.30,1 +1:30.08,9
7. NFB – Spine & Sport 27-1 Craig Uria (South Africa) 27-2 Andrew Duvenage (South Africa) 17:50.39,2 +1:55.18,0
8. William Simpson 33-1 Michael Posthumus (South Africa) 33-2 Derrin Smith (South Africa) 18:03.14,8 +2:07.53,6
9. LGE Midas/Slender-Wonder 330-1 Igna de Villiers (South Africa) 330-2 Paul Theron (South Africa) 18:38.04,3 +2:42.43,1
10. Joberg2C-Valencia 565-1 Grant Usher (South Africa) 565-2 Amy Beth McDougall (South Africa) 18:40.53,6 +2:45.32,4

2017 Stage 4 Exxaro

Stage Results

1. Diepsloot MTB Academy 1 376-1 William Mokgopo (South Africa) 376-2 Phillimon Sebona (South Africa) 5:09.13,9
2. DMA Absa 361-1 Sean Baloyi (South Africa) 361-2 Luke Mashiane (South Africa) 5:18.16,1 +9.02,2
3. BMT Academy Fairtree 1 362-1 Luyanda Thobigunya (South Africa) 362-2 Baphelele Mbobo (South Africa) 5:30.43,8 +21.29,9

Overall Results

1. Diepsloot MTB Academy 1 376-1 William Mokgopo (South Africa) 376-2 Phillimon Sebona (South Africa) 18:56.07,2
2. BMT Academy Fairtree 1 362-1 Luyanda Thobigunya (South Africa) 362-2 Baphelele Mbobo (South Africa) 20:03.08,1 +1:07.00,9
3. Songo-Investec 1 373-1 Thando Klaas (South Africa) 373-2 Lorenzo Leroux (South Africa) 20:18.38,2 +1:22.31,0
4. DMA Absa 361-1 Sean Baloyi (South Africa) 361-2 Luke Mashiane (South Africa) 20:23.19,8 +1:27.12,6
5. RMB Change a Life 1 372-1 Bongumusa Zikhali (South Africa) 372-2 Mazwi Smimango (South Africa) 20:46.02,9 +1:49.55,7
6. Exxaro MTB Academy2 365-1 Anele Mtalana (South Africa) 365-2 Rilamulele Gadabeni (South Africa) 20:51.46,4 +1:55.39,2
7. RMB Change a Life 371-1 Ndumiso Dontso (South Africa) 371-2 Sipho Kupiso (South Africa) 21:47.55,8 +2:51.48,6
8. Land Rover 7 370-1 Syanda Masango (South Africa) 370-2 Luvuyo Siyasi (South Africa) 22:03.06,2 +3:06.59,0
9. Absa DMA ROSS 305-1 Clement Mabula (South Africa) 305-2 Mphodisa Bruce Sebopa (South Africa) 22:16.57,4 +3:20.50,2
10. BMT Academy 377-1 Abongile Bhusakwe (South Africa) 377-2 Siyabulela Tutu (South Africa) 23:09.57,8 +4:13.50,6

* The 2017 Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race is taking place until Sunday 26 March. Watch the action live on our website www.cape-epic.com