The Songo.info team of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser partially made up for stage 4’s penalty and mechanicals to win stage 5 and move back into contention for the overall.
Songo.info finished 1:14 seconds ahead of the second team of Trek-Brentjens on the stage. It was Songo.info’s fourth stage win.
The Bulls Team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm maintained their overall lead, finishing in fourth on the stage.
Stander said he and Sauser decided to forget about the 15-minute penalty they were slapped with after accepting mechanical aide from another team on stage 4. “This is our chance to race all out again. We don’t have to worry about tactics any longer, just race our bikes as hard as we can and enjoy it. We were mentally prepared that today’s stage would involve some hard racing, so we really had fun. We basically saw it as our opportunity to start fresh again.”
Stander was critical of the Trek-Brentjens for attacking through a water zone. “You just don’t do that, not at water points or during mechanical issues. Yesterday the Bulls didn’t capitalize when we had mechanical problems, so today we rode with them at first and tried to minimize the gap when Bart (Brentjens) attacked. Then in Lebanon Forest when we caught Trek-Brentjens on the bottom of the climb, we put the hammer down. We wanted to win this stage and take over the lead. On the last two or three climbs, I was struggling a bit. Luckily the last single-track section pulled me through. It was so much fun — I really enjoyed today’s stage. It was definitely the best part of all the courses we’ve been riding so far.”
In his defense, Brentjens said that an intermediate sprint finish line and the water point were in the same place. “I made a mistake and didn’t see it. I was so focused on sprinting through the Hot Spot and didn’t remember that we had to stop there. Then I noticed that Chris wasn’t behind me and turned around. He was riding towards me with water bottles as he had stopped at the water point.”
Absa Ladies team continues domination
Absa Ladies Hanlie Booyens and Sharon Laws continued their winning streak by winning their division for the sixth day in a row, and remain in the overall lead (28:56:56).
“On these long stages, the faster you go, the sooner it’s over and you can recover. And on some of these climbs you can only go fast, because they’re so loose. The guys pedal up there with power. I have to spin up, so I’m riding faster,” Laws said.
Her partner Booyens added: “Even though we don’t have real competition at the moment, we try to race hard, to stay in a bunch and check out the Mixed categories. We don’t want to stay in the back and take it easy just because we have a big lead time over the runners-up. In fact, I couldn’t go much faster even if someone was chasing us.”
In the Mixed category, Nico Pfitzenmaier and Alison Sydor (Adidas Big Tree) won their category yet again.
“We had a great stage today – the single track was unbeatable,” Pfitzenmaier said. “Alison always likes to ride with the leading men after the start. They’re more experienced and she doesn’t want to risk a crash as last year she really hurt herself. Keeping up with the front guys is extremely tiring though. Today we were very lucky — we didn’t have any technical issues like yesterday and despite the length of the stage and the grueling steep climbs towards the end, it was actually a very relaxing stage for us. To arrive in Oak Valley was absolutely stunning. This camp ground is so beautiful, one can feel that the pressure is slowly dissipating and the atmosphere is great.”
The next to last stage, will take riders on an 86km journey with 1,546 meters of climbing. Organizers say the stage is the most technical in the Absa Cape Epic’s history.