High Fives for Annika and Anna
Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen (Investec-songo-Specialized) collected their seventh stage win at the 2019 Absa Cape Epic to give Langvad her fifth victory in the gruelling eight-day race.
On Sunday at Val de Vie Estate the five-time World Marathon Champion Langvad, and World Road Race and Olympic Champion Van der Breggen, broke away from Candice Lill and Adelheid Morath (Summit Fin) within the last kilometre of the Grand Finale Stage to complete a one-sided victory.
The Investec-songo-Specialized pair established their superiority on the opening Prologue on the slopes of Table Mountain National Park a week ago and never looked like being headed throughout the eight stages around the Western Cape. Even when Lill and Morath pounced on the chance of a stage win on Friday, when Van der Breggen was having a rare off day, it always looked like nothing more than a temporary setback for the dominant race winners.
In the 70km final stage from Stellenbosch University to Val De Vie Estate, Lill and Morath ended just 17 seconds behind but were over 30 minutes behind on GC. Ariane Lüthi and Maja Wloszczowska (Kross-Spur Racing) finished third on both the stage and overall standings.
Langvad was surprisingly calm about collecting her fifth win and matching the record of Absa Cape Epic greats Karl Platt and Christoph Sauser; her focus was rather on Van der Breggen and her first victory.
"The Absa Cape Epic is always so intense, the ups and downs … it has been so emotional this year. It has been such a good week and I have really enjoyed riding with Anna and forming a new partnership. It has been a blast. "Every single time the Absa Cape Epic races are different. Bringing a roadie into the Absa Cape Epic and transforming her into a mountain biker has been so awesome. Watching her improving day by day has been such a great experience."
Van der Breggen looked relieved to have completed what she believes to be her biggest ever week on a bike. "It was a really tough week. It was such a new experience and so nice to do something totally new and see the boundaries where you can push your body.
"Sometimes I did not like the suffering, but it was such a nice thing to do. I do not think my body has ever been this tired and I do not think I have ever spent so many hours on the bike in one week. It was hard at the beginning, but now I know how it feels to achieve what we did."
And what will it take to beat Langvad, who has now won all five times she has started the Absa Cape Epic? "I don't know" she said with a smile – and it seems her opponents don't know either.
In the race for the Absa African Women's Jersey, Theresa Ralph and Sarah Hill of team Galileo Risk comfortably completed the stage in sixth position, the same place they ended all week, winning the Jersey for 2019. Early Bird Entries - which sell out instantaneously each year - for the 2020 Absa Cape Epic will open at 15:00 South African time (GMT +2) on Monday 25 March on www.cape-epic.com
2019 Grand Finale Women's Results
1. Investec-songo-Specialized 50-1 Annika Langvad (Denmark) 50-2 Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) 03:33.46,1
2. Summit Fin 54-1 Candice Lill (South Africa) 54-2 Adelheid Morath (Germany) 03:34.03,5 +17,4
3. Kross-Spur Racing 53-1 Ariane Lüthi (Switzerland) 53-2 Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) 03:40.18,4 +6.32,3
1. Investec-songo-Specialized 50-1 Annika Langvad (Denmark) 50-2 Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) 31:26.41,4
2. Summit Fin 54-1 Candice Lill (South Africa) 54-2 Adelheid Morath (Germany) 31:57.04,1 +30.22,7
3. Kross-Spur Racing 53-1 Ariane Lüthi (Switzerland) 53-2 Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) 32:35.09,3 +1:08.27,9
4. Meerendal WIAWIS Rotwild 51-1 Sabine Spitz (Germany) 51-2 Nadine Rieder (Germany) 33:14.18,3 +1:47.36,9
5. Silverback - Fairtree 52-1 Jennie Stenerhag (Sweden) 52-2 Mariske Strauss (South Africa) 33:23.26,7 +1:56.45,3
6. Galileo Risk 56-1 Theresa Ralph (South Africa) 56-2 Sarah Hill (South Africa) 35:01.38,4 +3:34.57,0
7. FreakShow SCOTT 57-1 Sonya Looney (United States of America) 57-2 Catherine Williamson (England) 35:53.18,6 +4:26.37,2