Stage – Meerendal CBC overcome a late crash to maintain GC lead
Stage 5 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic very nearly ended in disaster for Esther Süss when a singletrack crash into a slower rider almost left the Meerendal CBC title challenge in tatters. But a fired up Jennie Stenerhag helped Esther up and put in a massive effort to catch up with Sabine Spitz and Robyn de Groot, ensuring that Ascendis Health gained no time on the general classification.
— Cape Brewing Co. (@CapeBrewingCo) March 24, 2017
Esther’s crash came at a particularly inopportune moment, just 7km from the finish of the 84km long stage, on Friday the 24th of March. The leading two women’s teams were racing neck-and-neck when they caught up with a male team, who had started ahead of the UCI elite women, in a section of forest singletrack. The men pulled over for Sabine and Robyn but didn’t realise Esther and Jennie were right behind them. After Robyn passed him the second man swerved back into the trail colliding with Esther and sending her head-over-heels into the trees on the side of the trail. She crashed chest first into the trunk of a tree winding herself and somehow leaving her pinned between her bike and the tree. Jennie had to stop and help her stricken partner up before leading the chase to catch Sabine and Robyn. The Meerendal CBC pairing lost out in the sprint for the stage victory by a mere 0.3 seconds.
The result means Jennie and Esther have a significant 12 minute and 39 second lead over Sabine and Robyn in the Hansgrohe Women’s category going into the mammoth Queen Stage on Saturday. The Queen Stage will also suit the marathon strengths of Meerendal CBC 2’s Hielke Elferink & Cornelia Hug. Cornelia in particular is getting stronger as the race progresses and they are both looking forward to a long day in the saddle which should allow them to make up time on their general classification rivals, after finishing in seventh again today.
In the Grand Masters’ category Barti Bucher and Heinz Zoerweg, of Meerendal CBC 3, continued their inexorable march to classification victory with another stage victory by over 20 minutes on Stage 5. They now lead the category by 1 hour, 21 minutes and 59.9 seconds over Greg Anderson and Deon Kruger of team ABSA Bus Boys.
Stage 6 is arguably the toughest stage the 2017 Absa Cape Epic on paper with a massive 2 750m of climbing in the 103 route. The UCI elite men start at 07:00 while the UCI elite women get underway at 07:10, form Oak Valley in Elgin. You can follow the action live on www.cape-epic.com or on Twitter @CapeBrewingCo.
Absa Cape Epic | Stage 5 Results – Hansgrohe Women’s Category
1) Ascendis Health: Sabine Spitz & Robyn de Groot (4:28:51.0)
2) Meerendal CBC: Jennie Stenerhag & Esther Süss (+0.3)
3) Team Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Adeleid Morath (+2:52.2)
4) Hollard-Velocity Sports Lab: Carmen Buchacher & Michelle Vorster (+4:11.4)
5) Hansgrohe Cadence OMX Pro: Annie Last & Mariske Strauss (+8:40.3)
Absa Cape Epic | General Classification – Hansgrohe Women’s Category
1) Meerendal CBC: Jennie Stenerhag & Esther Suss (22:48:12.5)
2) Ascendis Health: Sabine Spitz & Robyn de Groot (+12:39)
3) Hansgrohe Cadence OMX Pro: Annie Last & Mariske Strauss (+36:04)
4) Team Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Adeleid Morath (+53:40)
5) dormakaba SA: Candice Lill & Vera Adrian (+1:11:35)
6) Hollard-Velocity Sports Lab: Carmen Buchacher & Michelle Vorster (+1:13:55)
7) Meerendal CBC 2: Hielke Elferink & Cornelia Hug (+1: 31:15)