The Cape Epic finally shows its true colors
Report: 2nd race day from André Hauschke and Gisela Gartmair
Following this, the second stage of the Cape Epic here in Tulbagh, I will be forced to refer to this stage as „Tomahawk“ as it has been hanging over us the whole day today.
Temperatures of around 35°, a very dusty 89km long route covering a total of 2050 meters altitude through the vineyards and mountains around the town of Tulbagh, shook many of the competing athletes.
The Cape Epic showed its true colors following the light-and-easy Prolog course yesterday.
I believe that all participants now realize exactly why this is mountainbiking territory. In this race, there are no long sweeping forest routs like one can find in the Trans-Alp race. Here it is just dusty, stone ridden paths of extreme gradients. Anything less than a 100% dedicated mountain bike will not survive this race.
Following todays stage, the Cape Epic has confirmed its reputation even further as the most challenging, technically hard MTB stage race in the world.
The technical and difficult rideable trail sections and steep hills are unfortunately also scattered with various sections which are only passable by pushing the bikes. This makes finding your rhythm even more difficult for the teams. Many crashes and material defects were the order of the day. One of the top professional athletes - local matador Kevin Evans RSA fell victim to the 'Tomahawk Race'. He fell so hard on a pass due to relatively deep biting sandy terrain, that he was forced to retire from the race with a broken collar bone. A Scot also crashed badly and needed to be transported away with the Cape Epic organizers ambulances suffering from concussion. In fact, more than half of the mixed teams were forced to quit this section today!
Team 36One Sogno Spezialized continued to run away with the event. Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander increased their lead in the mens category with a top time of just 3:52:13.
The top team from the Switzerland, the Stöckli Pro team came in second place today just 3.5 minutes behind the leaders. They too were closely followed by Team Bulls 2 Thomas Dietsch FRAU and Tim Boehme GER. The womens category remained unchanged following this second day with the Colnago South Tirol Team consisting of Eva Lechner and Nathalie Schneitter staying up front.
The Tomahawk from Tulbagh refused to let up and we suffered too. We suffered two punctures which threw us out of the competition completely and my team partner Gisi was unfortunately still very ill. She then also fell victim to the same conditions and crashed in the same place as Evans. She also hurt her knee badly and we initially feared we would not be able to complete the section - Gisi really is proving herself to be a real powerhouse and has continued to keep us pace regardless of how ill she actually is.
Team Endorphin Rohloff Opper/Kropp also lost many places due to a crash and eventually came in around 30th place just as we did.
Hopefully tomorrow will get us back on track. The weather is reported to remain as today and the temperature remaining around 35°! Wish us luck - we may need it.