Stage 3 – 2nd in a sprint finish for Meerendal CBC
Stage 3 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic was scheduled to be the shortest, barring the Prologue, of the race and as such it was always going to be targeted by the short course, lap racing, cross-country specialists. That was before the heat though. The scorching African sun has sapped the energy from the young legs of Candice Lill, Vera Adrian, Candice Lill & Vera Adrian leaving the experienced marathon racers Jennie Stenerhag, Esther Süss, Sabine Spitz & Robyn de Groot to race it out for stage victory for the second day in a row.
The 78km of rugged and rocky trails, including the energy sapping UFO climb and the treacherous Good Samaritan descent, couldn’t separate the Meerendal CBC and Ascendis Health teams and so it came down to a sprint finish. de Groot & Spitz reversed the result from Stage 2 to take the victory over Stenerhag & Süss on Stage 3, but they only managed to reduce the Meerendal CBC lead by 0.2 seconds.
For the Meerendal CBC 2 team of Hielke Elferink & Cornelia Hug Stage 3 was their most competitive of the race thus far. The pairing were strong throughout and raced with Ariane Lüthi & Adeleid Morath of Team Spur for much of the stage, before dropping back slightly in the second half. In the final kilometres they were caught by the Hollard-Velocity Sports Lab team of Carmen Buchacher & Michelle Vorster, but Elferink and Hug were still confident of claiming fifth place on the stage. Disaster struck though when Elferink braked to avoid a slowing male rider which caused Hug to clip her rear wheel, sending Elferink down. The crash relegated Meerendal CBC 2 to sixth on the stage, but didn’t dampen their spirits as they were all too happy to be able to race at a more competitive intensity again today. The result and their improving form augur well for the long Stage 4, from Greyton to Elgin, tomorrow.
Barti Bucher and Heinz Zoerweg, of Meerendal CBC 3, had reason to celebrate with their traditional Cape Brewing Co beer on the finish line as they once again claimed victory in the Grand Masters category, on the stage.
— Cape Brewing Co. (@CapeBrewingCo) March 22, 2017
Tomorrow’s Stage 4 is the longest of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic at 112km and it includes 2 150m of altitude gained, as it take the riders up the Botrivier Pass from Elandskloof to Oak Valley. The UCI elite men start at 07:00 while the UCI elite women get underway at 07:10. You can follow the action live on www.cape-epic.com or on Twitter @CapeBrewingCo.
Absa Cape Epic | Stage 2 Results – Hansgrohe Women’s Category
1) Ascendis Health: Sabine Spitz & Robyn de Groot (3:41:20.6)
2) Meerendal CBC: Jennie Stenerhag & Esther Süss (+0.2)
3) Hansgrohe Cadence OMX Pro: Annie Last & Mariske Strauss (+3:04.8)
4) dormakaba SA: Candice Lill & Vera Adrian (+6:03.8)
5) Hollard-Velocity Sports Lab: Carmen Buchacher & Michelle Vorster (+11:19.1)
6) Meerendal CBC 2: Hielke Elferink & Cornelia Hug (+11:51.5)
Absa Cape Epic | General Classification – Hansgrohe Women’s Category
1) Meerendal CBC: Jennie Stenerhag & Esther Suss (13:13:23.0)
2) Ascendis Health: Sabine Spitz & Robyn de Groot (+8:57.8)
3) Hansgrohe Cadence OMX Pro: Annie Last & Mariske Strauss (+24:22.1)
4) Team Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Adeleid Morath (+43:11.3)
5) dormakaba SA: Candice Lill & Vera Adrian (+47:28.0)
6) Hollard-Velocity Sports Lab: Carmen Buchacher & Michelle Vorster (+1:00:56.0)
7) Meerendal CBC 2: Hielke Elferink & Cornelia Hug (+1:06:52.4)