Swiss star Christoph Sauser and the Czech Jaroslav Kulhavy won the 78km third stage of the Cape Epic that started and finished at Elandskloof, Greyton, to narrow the gap between themselves and overall leaders Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini.
The Investec-Songo-Specialized duo won their second stage on the trot in a time of 3:03:46 when they outsprinted Scott-Sram MTB Racing’s Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann. Centurion Vaude 2’s Nicola Rohrbach and Daniel Geismayr completed the podium in 3:03:54.
Cannondale Factory Racing’s Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini finished fourth to lose 1:09 to Sauser and Kulhavy in the overall standings. With an overall time of 11:05:51, they now lead the general classification by 1:20 over Sauser and Kulhavy and 4:03 ahead of Schurter and Stirnemann.
It was at the third water point that Sauser and Kulhavy made their move and pushed hard, dropping all but Scott-Sram MTB Racing and Centurion Vaude 2.
Scott-Sram briefly led for a short while, but it was Kulhavy who managed to keep Investec-Songo-Specialized in the front position as they approached the sprint for the finish.
“Today was a good day for us, we’ve made good progress because we didn’t expect to make up some of the time between us and Cannondale, so that was a bonus,” said Sauser.
Cannondale’s Avancini stated that they haven’t ruled out an overall win at this point.
“If anyone outside of Cannondale Factory Racing wins the Cape Epic this year they are going to know they have been in a fight. We’re not going to let this go easily.”
In the women’s race, Germany’s Sabine Spitz and South African Robyn de Groot from Ascendis Health beat yesterday’s winners, Esther Süss and Jennie Stenerhag of Meerendal CBC, in a sprint finish in 3:41:20.
They were followed home around 20 seconds later by Hansgrohe Cadence’s Mariske Strauss and Annie Last.
Süss and Stenerhag now lead De Groot and Spitz by 8:57 after 13:13:23 of racing, with Strauss and Last 24:22 behind in third.
“The riding time was much shorter than we expected which I think is due to a lot of fast riding on the single tracks.
“This wasn’t good for us, but overall the day went well,” said Spitz, who crashed during stage one.
Süss expressed her disappointment at the finish.
“We’re not happy with second place, I think I worked too hard too early on the flat leading up to the finish,” she said.
View more results, as well as the general classification, here.