Hot, dusty and exhausting - typical conditions of the Absa Cape Epic, with which the drivers also had to struggle on today's fifth stage. The 110km stage took the field from Greyton to Elgin and forced another favorite to throw in the towel.
After Karl Platt from Team Bulls had to abandon the race yesterday due to knee pain, Rudi van Houts from the Multivan Merida Team suffered the same ailment. He crashed yesterday and couldn't finish today's stage. His teammate Jose Hermida will therefore have to finish the race as a single driver.
Robert Mennen and Kristian Hynek from Topeak-Ergon were also about to be eliminated today. Even before the first water station, Hynek had a flat tire on both the front and rear wheel. Luckily, Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Käß rushed to his aid, so Hynek and Käß swapped wheels and the German/Czech duo could continue with the race. Kaufmann and Käß are close friends of Robert Mennen and are far behind in the overall classification due to a broken frame on Tuesday.
They have no chance of overall victory and thus helped Topeak-Ergon maintain their overall lead for another day. "I'm not sure if it was a sharp rock or broken glass that got me the plates. Luckily, Jochen and Markus helped me straight away – that was a great sporting gesture and I am very grateful to them.”, comments Hynek Käß's sportiness.
Meanwhile, Roel Paulissen and Riccardo Chiarini from the Torpado Factory Team celebrated their first win of the day. They led the field together with Nino Schurter and Philip Buys and were able to open up a gap just before the finish. “We were only able to drive Nino and Philip away a little after the last victories. Nino was very strong today but Philip struggled a bit and couldn't follow our attack. We are very happy to have won a stage. For a team as small as we are, that's a huge achievement.", according to the Belgian Paulissen. Christoph Sauser and Frantisek Rabon were able to secure third place and make up some time in the overall standings despite a blunder that saw Sauser slash his tyre.
Ariane Kleinhans and Annikas Langvad also dominated on the fifth day. The sweltering South African heat didn't stop them from putting a fourteen minute lead over Suss and Bigham to secure their fourth straight win. “I'm super happy, not only because the last singletrack was so much fun, we're finally in the shade. It was so damn hot today", said Langvad after crossing the finish line. Kleinhans adds: “I was a bit worried before the stage as Esther and Sally are good climbers and there were a lot of long climbs today. We tried to drive a good and, above all, consistent speed and our plan worked perfectly.”
Esther Süss and Sally Bigham lose more valuable minutes to the leading duo and are already 15.24,5:XNUMX minutes behind in the overall standings. Jennie Stenerhag and Theresa Ralph also finished in third place on the fifth day and also seem to have secured third place in the overall classification.
1. Roel Paulissen v Riccardo Chiarini (Torpado Factory) 4:52.03,4
2. Nino Schurter / Philip Buys (Scott Odlo MTB) +6,4
3. Christoph Sauser / Frantisek Rabon (Meerendal Songo Specialized) +5.00,0
4. Ben Bostrom / Paolo Cesar Montoya (Meerendal Songo Specialized 2) +6.14,2
5. Robert Mennen / Kristian Hynek (Topeak Ergon) +6.59,8
1. Ariane Kleinhans / Annika Langvad (RECM 2) 5:29.20,5
2. Esther Suss / Sally Bigham (Meerendal) +14.13,4
3. Jennie Stenerhag / Theresa Ralph (Cape Brewing Company) +40.30,2
4. Milena Landtwing / Hielke Eiferink (Meerendal Wheeler) +46.59,5
5. Sara Mertens / Laura Turpijn (Meerendal Wheeler 2) +1:08.15,7
1. Robert Mennen / Kristian Hynek (Topeak Ergon) 23:43.31,6
2. Christoph Sauser / Frantisek Rabon (Meerendal Songo Specialized) +9.47.7
3. Tim Boehme / Simon Stiebjahn (Bulls 2) +15.52,7
4. Roel Paulissen / Riccardo Chiarini (Torpado Factory) +19.05,7
5. Nino Schurter / Philip Buys (Scott Odlo MTB) +30.21,8
1. Ariane Kleinhans / Annika Langvad (RECM 2) 27:09.10,7
2. Esther Suss / Sally Bigham (Meerendal) +15.24,5
3. Jennie Stenerhag / Theresa Ralph (Cape Brewing Company) +1:44.14,9
4. Milena Landtwing / Hielke Eiferink (Meerendal Wheeler) +2:26.23,2
5. Sara Mertens / Laura Turpijn (Meerendal Wheeler 2) +3:29.04,0