The Bulls Team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm walked away with the overall win at eight-day 2009 Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas, which ended Saturday in Lourensford, South Africa.
The Bulls crossed the finish line in fourth, just ahead of the songo.info team of Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander, which had led the race for the first four days. Songo lost the lead after a disastrous stage 4 in which Stander crash and broke his front wheel and then borrowed a bike from a fellow competitor to continue. The team lost about 20 minutes because of the mechanical, and then was penalized an hour for accepting assistance. In the final standings, songo.info was 58 minutes behind the Bulls.
The Bulls, who also won in 2007, had their own adventures, with Platt dislocating his shoulder twice during the week.
“Crossing the final finish line took a load off my mind,” the Bulls’ Sahm said. “After all these obstacles, the joy is even greater. You can’t compare winning the Absa Cape Epic to anything else. It’s outstanding and for us the biggest and most important victory of all. It means the world to us.”
Platt added,”When we were crossing the finish line all together my thoughts were bouncing. We had so many highs and lows and sometimes made up time only to lose it again. Mentally and physically it was a very tough race and now in the end I’m unbelievably happy. After the prologue, I really didn’t expect to win. … I guess I’ll have to tape my shoulder again before we go partying tonight.”
The final stage was won by the Flückiger brothers, Mathias and Lukas (Trek World Racing), followed by South Africans Max Knox and Brandon Stewart (DCM Chrome) with the Multivan Merida team of Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss in third place.
The Bulls and Songo.info crossed the finish line at the same time, holding on to each other.
“It was wonderful to win the final stage,” said Mathias Flückiger. “We’ve had so much back luck throughout the week with two chain breaks, 8 flat tires, a derailleur, and more. However, we were riding well and always managed to catch up with the top bunch and maintain a good position in the GC. I guess we were always riding a bit too fast on the down hills, and that’s where we had most of our flats. Today we tried to be more careful and it really paid off.
Absa Ladies undefeated
The Absa Ladies team of Hanlie Booyens and Sharon Laws won the seventh stage, as they had every other stage and the prologue.
“We tried to ride as hard as possible in order to compete with the whole field, not only the other ladies,” Booyens said. “I felt a bit tired the last two days, but Sharon was going strong. I must admit I also enjoyed this year’s route much more than previous years. It was real mountain biking.”
The Adidas Big Tree team of Nico Pfitzenmaier and Alison Sydor won their category, having won six of the seven stages as well as the p
“I had a bit of a mechanical issue with my frame last night,” Sydor said. “It wasn’t reparable so the guys of team adidas Garmin helped me out with a bike. Since I was riding on a borrowed bike, I didn’t want to risk anything so we went slow. We also had a side cut in one of our tires, which we had to repair with a tube. The final stage started a little stressful, but after that we were riding stress free. It’s the best if you can really enjoy the final stage.”
Americans on the master’s podium
The American team Block / GeoLadders.com, of Doug Andrews and Rich Bartlett was third overall in the master’s category.
The category was won by the Absa Masters team of Doug Brown (South Africa) and Bärti Bucher (Switzerland) closely followed by the South Africans Shan Wilson and Andrew Mclean (Cycle Lab Toyota).
Out of the 1,196 riders that started this year’s Absa Cape Epic, 503 teams and 1,078 riders completed the 685km (425 miles), climbing a total of 14,663 meters (48,106 feet).
Title sponsor Absa has confirmed its sponsorship for the 2010 Absa Cape Epic.