Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing Cruise to Overall Honours
With 70km and 1800m of vertical gain standing between Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing and overall victory on the Champs-Élysées of mountain biking at Val de Vie Estate, you could've forgiven them for playing it safe and cruising to the finish.
Nino Schurter and Lars Forster went into the final stage from Stellenbosch University to Val de Vie Estate with a comfortable eight-minute lead over second-placed Cannondale Factory Racing. This meant they had to watch only Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini to cap off a successful week and claim overall honours at the 2019 Absa Cape Epic.
This they did smoothly, giving Schurter his second victory and Forster a golden debut by a margin of 7:36 over Avancini and Fumic. "This was amazing," Schurter said of the title after the finish. "It's a really special one to win. It's really tough to win this race you need to have a lot of good luck and a strong team. We are super stoked about it."
"Yesterday I was suffering and today I was suffering more," a visibly delighted Forster explained how the final day played out. "Luckily I had a strong horse with me who still had some left in the tank."
Their conservative run to the finish allowed other teams to gun for coveted Grand Finale stage honours. Queen Stage victors Matthys Beukes and Phil Buys of PYGA Euro Steel seized the initiative early, attacking up a climb in Jonkershoek. The only team who could stay with them was KROSS-SPUR, who had been aggressive all week, winning various Dimension Data Hotspots but to date had been unable to convert that form into a stage win. A win they desperately wanted after being put out of GC contention with mechanical issues on Stage 1.
While the likes of CST Sandd, Trek Selle San Marco, both 7C CBZ WILIER teams, SpecializedFoundationNAD as well as the Team BULLS outfits of Heroes and Young Guns were left to chase across a route which featured the best of Jonkershoek, Vuurberg, Boschendal and Val de Vie's trails, KROSS-SPUR Racing and the South Africans worked well together all the way to the finish.
Onto Val de Vie Estate and the long final stretch it came down to a bunch sprint, which saw Matthys Beukes cross the line first, but Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez and Ondřej Cink followed closely in second and third, giving them stage honours.
"It was so so close," said Gutierrez at the finish. "It was the shortest stage but still very tough with lots of singletrack and many climbs."
"A stage victory is super important," he added outlining how they had to change their strategy of overall GC aspirations after their disastrous Stage 1 mechanical. "We were super focused on a stage win after that; finally, on the last opportunity on the last stage, we managed that, so it is very special."
It also proved a special day for Sebastian Fini and Martins Blums of CST Sandd who finished on the stage podium for the first time in the race. As well as SpecializedFoundationNAD's Alan Hatherly and Matt Beers, who finished sixth on the day doing enough to stay in fifth overall and win the Absa African Men's Jersey.
If that has inspired you, Early Bird entries - which sell out almost instantaneously each year - for the 2020 Absa Cape Epic open at 15:00 GMT+2 on Monday 25 March. Have your browser set to www.cape-epic.com to ensure that you're in with a shot of guaranteeing yourself a spot at the start.
2019 Grand Finale Men's Results
1. KROSS-SPUR 14-1 Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Spain) 14-2 Ondřej Cink (Czech Republic) 02:53.07,3
2. PYGA Euro Steel 7-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 7-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 02:53.07,4 +0,1
3. CST Sandd 19-1 Sebastian Fini (Denmark) 19-2 Martins Blums (Latvia) 02:54.02,2 +54,9
1. Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing 4-1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 4-2 Lars Forster (Switzerland) 26:09.45,5
2. Cannondale Factory Racing 3-1 Manuel Fumic (Germany) 3-2 Henrique Avancini (Brazil) 26:17.22,4 +7.36,9
3. Trek Selle San Marco 10-1 Damiano Ferraro (Italy) 10-2 Samuele Porro (Italy) 26:26.22,8 +16.37,3
4. BULLS Heroes 6-1 Urs Huber (Switzerland) 6-2 Simon Stiebjahn (Germany) 26:35.53,4 +26.07,9
5. SpecializedFoundationNAD 13-1 Alan Hatherly (South Africa) 13-2 Matthew Beers (South Africa) 26:47.12,0 +37.26,5
6. BUFF SCOTT MTB 11-1 Francesc Guerra Carretero (Spain) 11-2 Enrique Morcillo Vergara (Spain) 26:48.23,2 +38.37,7
7. 7C CBZ WILIER 25-1 Louis Meija (Colombia) 25-2 Johnny Cattaneo (Italy) 26:52.14,5 +42.29,0
8. 7C CBZ WILIER 2 32-1 Tony Longo (Italy) 32-2 Gregory Brenes (Costa Rica) 27:05.24,9 +55.39,4
9. Canyon 5-1 Kristian Hynek (Czech Republic) 5-2 Petter Fagerhaug (Norway) 27:06.52,4 +57.06,9
10. Tbelles - ProtourBCN 43-1 Roberto Bou Martin (Spain) 43-2 Alberto Losada (Spain) 27:15.50,5 +1:06.05,0
More About ABSA Cape Epic
Former winners Nino Schurter and Annika Langvad on Sunday completed their objectives of guiding two Absa Cape Epic newbies to victories in
Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen (Investec-songo-Specialized) collected their seventh stage win at the 2019 Absa Cape Epic to give
The leaders in both the Men's and Women's categories at the Absa Cape Epic extended their leads and both look virtually certain of
It is the most iconic image of all: the rider village at the Absa Cape Epic. 700 identical red tents, laid out to OCD perfection. For the
Renaissance men Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys shrugged off a disastrous first five days to win The Queen Stage of the Absa Cape Epic from
South African Candice Lill and her German partner Adelheid Morath became the Queens of the Queen Stage when they won the 100km Stage 5 from
The Investec-songo-Specialized train continues to rush toward Absa Cape Epic victory and such is their control of the Women's category
The scene is set for a spectacular Queen Stage into Stellenbosch on Friday, as Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing dominated the 43-kilometre Time Trial
It's not over until it's over. A disastrous rear-wheel puncture saw Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing concede the Yellow Jerseys to Cannondale
The Investec-songo-Specialized duo of Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen extended their lead during Stage 2 of the Absa Cape Epic
Oak Valley Estate in Elgin is an icon of the Absa Cape Epic and today's racing will once again be immortalised in the annals of the
There was a tacit admission from their nearest rivals that the mountain biking-road riding combination of Annika Langvad and Anna van der
The all-Swiss pairing of Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing won the 111km Stage 1 of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic in emphatic fashion on Monday 18 March.
Mountain biking World Champion Annika Langvad and her road riding World and Olympic Champion partner Anna van der Breggen put down a marker
Team Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing won the Prologue of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic on the slopes of Table Mountain ahead of Cannondale Factory Racing
With 650 teams set to start the 2019 Absa Cape Epic on the 17th of March, there are 1 300 individual stories of dedication,
The Amabubesi Finisher Club celebrates all riders who have finished three or more Absa Cape Epics. That pride of lions grows year on year,
The pre-race press conference, held just three days before the start of the Absa Cape Epic, set the assembled mountain biking media abuzz
James Lawrence is no stranger to feats of ultra-endurance. Known as the Iron Cowboy, Lawrence hails from Calgary, Canada, and holds the
As a former three-time World Champion whenever Óscar Freire pins a number to his kit he attracts a great deal of attention. Even if
Jaco van Gass, British Armed Forces Parachute Regiment, and Stu Croxford, Duke of Lancaster's Infantry Regiment, are set to take on the
From 2001 until he retired in 2013 there was no better known South African cyclist than Robbie Hunter. The former Rabobank, Phonak and
Effervescent, quick with a joke or a laugh, Jose Antonio Hermida and Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodriguez are two of the Absa Cape
Though best known for his exploits around a race track, on two petrol powered wheels, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini MotoGP rider, Aleix