Stander’s team-mates capture Epic

25 March 2013

Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy, riding with Swiss ace Christoph Sauser as Team Burry Stander-Songo, did the late South African mountain bike star proud by securing an extremely tough victory in the Cape Epic on Sunday.

It was a third win in succession for Sauser, whose previous two wins had come with Stander, and his fourth in total after a 2006 triumph with Silvio Bundi. Kulhavy rode the race for a first time.

“I’m very happy with our victory,” he said after securing victory. “It’s perfect for us and Burry’s family.

‘Amazing’

“I learnt a lot from Christoph. He is very experienced and this is his second home. It was an amazing week for me.”

Sauser, a veteran of the race, declared this year’s 10th anniversary event the toughest Epic yet. “We rode for more than 30 hours and with every pedal stroke you had to push,” he reckoned.

“It’s the whole three months that lead up to the event that is important. The pressure is immense as there’s not really a back-up team. We had a few moments at the end, but what counts is getting here. We also had a lot of support from Burry’s family and his fans. That definitely gave us wings too.”

Placings

Second place went to the Team Bulls duo of Karl Platt and Urs Huber, with the Bulls 2 team of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme taking third. Multivan Merida’s Jose Hermida and Rudi van Houts won the final stage and finished fourth, with the Cannondale Factory Racing team of Marco Fontana and Manuel Fumic in fifth.

“Today was a really hard stage, but we both wanted that big bottle of champagne. That’s what motivated us to win this stage,” Hermida said.

The all-South African Scott Factory Racing team of Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes ended barely half-a-minute behind Fontana and Fumic and were the leading African team after a very impressive performance that included second place on the final stage.

Cannondale Blend’s Darren Lill and Charles Keey were second among the African teams, followed by FedGroup-Itec’s Brand Stewart and Neil McDonald.

‘Motivated’

“We never really pushed to our limits at all during the race and we both felt good at the start today, so we decided to give the stage win a go. Having live TV coverage definitely motivated us because we knew it was a good way to reward our sponsors and supporters,” Beukes smiled.

As the first African team home, Buys and Beukes received the new Burry Stander Memorial Trophy, which was presented by Stander’s wife, Cherise.

Victory in the women’s race went to South Africa’s Yolande Speedy and British rider Catherine Williamson. They had appeared on course for an easy victory before Speedy took a nasty spill on Saturday, breaking a clavicle and two ribs.

Pain

Somehow she pushed through the pain and made it to the end of the race. The pair lost about half-an-hour to their nearest rivals over the last two days, but having built up an advantage of over two hours before that managed to take the honours.

“We’re very happy that we made it and we had amazing support. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. It’s amazing to take away this win. It’s such a prestigious event,” Speedy said.

Explaining their approach on the last day, Williamson said: “We just tried to keep humouring Yolande today. I was acting like a marshal. I needed one of those stop-start signs today. We made a lot of friends and they were helping us frequently.

“This is the biggest victory of my career yet. I won’t forget this one at all. It’s brilliant. It’s massive.”

Hanlie Booyens and Ischen Stopforth of the Pragma Volcan Ladies team finished second and C-Bear, made up of Sara Mertens and Laura Turpijn, third.

Fifth win

The RE:CM team of Erik and Ariane Kleinhans claimed their fifth Absa Cape Epic title in the mixed race. They finished more than two hours ahead of Duane Stander and Cherise Stander, who raced as Africanmtbkid 1. The Biohen Britehouse team of Theresa Ralph and Damian Perrin ended third.

“It was a fantastic experience and our biggest goal of the year,” Erik Kleinhans said. “We tried to keep it consistent and we had a safe race. We know how to win these races and were very prepared for this. We’re extremely happy.”

Nioco Pfitzenmaier and Abraao Azevado of Team Bridge picked up the Masters’ title, while Team Songo.info’s Barti Bucher and Heinz Zoerweg easily captured the Grand Masters’ win.

Development

The Exxaro Development victory went the way of Exxaro PwC Academy 1’s Prince Masheko and Phillimon Sebona.

“I’m very happy. It’s like a dream come true. We experienced a lot riding with the professionals. Today I rode with Sauser for part of the way, which was fantastic. I’m really happy,’ Sebona grinned.

“I’m so happy to be at the finish after eight days of fighting. I’d like to thank my partner for pushing me and I hope Exxaro will be proud of us this year. You don’t remember the suffering and the pain. It’s all temporary, but the happiness is there forever.”

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