Sauser and partner Jaroslav Kulhavy (Investec-Songo-Specialized) rode conservatively to finish fifth on a sun-drenched 92km final stage from Wellington to Meerendal Wine Estate, Durbanville.
“This is the coolest thing in the world with all these spectators cheering us on. These moments are very rare,” said an elated Sauser at the finish.
“With five kilometres to go I knew that we had it. I tried to absorb as much of it as I could, and thought about all the memories this race has given me.”
“It was really good racing with ‘Susi’. I enjoyed every kilometre of the stage today and especially the finish line,” said Kulhavy.
Commenting on his fifth win, Sauser said: “It is really cool, but one day someone will beat the record.”
“Maybe when I’m old and grumpy it will mean something, but I’m just enjoying the moment now.”
Meerendal Centurion Vaude’s Jochen Kaess and Daniel Geismayr won the seventh and final stage stage, five seconds ahead of Jose Hermida and Rudi van Houts of Multivan Merida.
Kaess and Geismayr and Multivan Merida’s Rudi van Houts (Netherlands) and Jose Hermida (Spain) had broken away on the massive Paardeberg climb, about 20km into the route.
They were both chasing the stage win and Kulhavy and Sauser chose to ignore their challenge and rather keep an eye on the second placed team of Lakata and Hynek.
Kaess and Geismayr managed to keep Hermida and Van Houts at bay as they climbed up there Dorstberg behind Meerendal and then down the estate’s renowned singletrack.
Novus OMX Pro’s Swiss pair Martin Gujan and Fabian Giger were third.
Hynek said afterwards: “I never thought I’d be disappointed with second. Not being able to defend the title (which he won last year with Robert Mennen) was a great blow.”
Lakata said it had been a “roller coaster” race for him.
“Winning the Epic is a major goal for my career. I’m getting closer. I’ve come fifth, fourth, third and second – maybe next year will be my turn,” said Lakata.
Team Bulls’s Karl Platt was also bidding for a fifth win with partner Urs Huber struggled throughout and finished third overall.
Platt said: “I enjoyed half the Epic, but not the other half – we probably put ourselves under too much pressure.”
Huber said he had suffered badly over the closing two stages.
The first all-South African team home was Scott Factory Racing’s Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes, who both secured a top five placing and got to take home the African special jersey and Burry Stander memorial trophy.