AMERICA SCORES TWO MORE PODIUM FINISHES IN THURSDAY’S CAPE EPIC

South Africa's Matt Beers and America's Christopher Blevins (Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized) win Stage 4 with an unintentionally brilliant finish in the 82-kilometer stage. America's Haley Batten and Sofia Gomez Villafane may have come another day closer to winning the women's title this weekend

Absa Cape Epic Press Release

THE UNINTENTIONALLY BRILLIANT TACTICAL FINISH OF THE MEN’S RACE

South Africa’s Matt Beers and America’s Christopher Blevins (Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized) won Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic with an unintentionally brilliant tactical finish to the 82-kilometer (51-mile) stage.

Christopher Blevins sprints to the finish during Stage 4. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic

Beers crossed the line at a dawdle ahead of Seewald, but Blevins came racing around the final corner to make sure Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized was the first team home. “That was perfectly executed,” said Blevins. “I wish we could say we planned that, but Matt just rode off with Andreas. I was licking my lips though because I knew a sprint was coming and that’s my strength. I timed it well and got away from the guys. I really enjoyed that!”

Christopher Blevins (left) and Matt Beers chase the leaders during stage 4. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic

Beers added that he was slightly worried about the time gap, but had faith in the sprint skills of Blevins. “I was suffering a bit at the start of the stage but Chris then put in a monster effort on the top of the climb and we were able to catch the leaders. From there we knew it was three teams in it to the finish. We just waited and made our move when the time was right.”

Andreas Seewald, still in the yellow leader jerseys with partner Stošek for Stage 5, said that he and Beers did have a discussion on the rules as they both raced to the finish. “Matt and I spoke, and we couldn’t remember if we were allowed a one-minute or two-minute gap from our partners. I was sure it was two minutes so then I was happy to go; Matt and I knew it would be the guys behind who decided the stage. It was a funny and scary finish at the same time!”

Martin Stošek and Andreas Seewald held onto the overall lead at the end of the day, allowing them to keep wearing the yellow leaders’ jerseys in Stage 5 on Friday. Photo Sam Clark/Cape Epic

 

The nine-time and current Men’s XC World Champion, Nino Schurter, leads a pack of riders early in stage 4. Nino and teammate Lars Forster ended up not making the podium at the end of the stage. Photo Sam Clark/Cape Epic

 

From the start of Stage 4, it was tight, tense, and tactical. Speed Company Racing blazed a trail from the off, but around 50km into the day, they were joined by Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized; soon after, yellow jersey leaders Canyon Northwave MTB joined the front of the race.

The three teams matched each other pedal stroke for pedal stroke until the final 5km where Beers and Seewald raced away. It was a unique end to a stage at an Absa Cape Epic that continues to provide thrilling mountain bike action.

In the general classification, Canyon Northwave MTB still leads, with Speed Company Racing in second. Speed Company Racing’s Georg Egger said they attempted to pull away again, as they did on Stage 3, but just couldn’t get away on the day. “We wanted to lead from the front again, but Lukas had a little crash and that gave the rest a chance. Once the others went in front we just rode together.”

The pro men’s riders had to pass a few cows during Stage 4. (We’re pretty sure that’s Nino in third and Lars in fourth.) Photo © Dom Barnardt / Cape Epic

 

Canyon Northwave MTB’s Martin Stošek said another day in yellow is what matters most. “We didn’t lose any time today. We had no major issues and the ride went smoothly. We start another stage in yellow and that’s a great feeling.”

Stage 5 of the Absa Cape Epic takes the race from Elandskloof in Greyton to Stellenbosch. The route is 115km long and features the infamous Rusty Gate climb straight from the start and then the scenic yet demanding Franschhoek Pass halfway through the day. As riders love to say of the Absa Cape Epic, anything can happen.

Tune in to the Live Broadcast of Stage 5 from 08:30 on cape-epic.com.

Stage 4 Results:
1) Matt Beers and Christopher Blevins/Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized: 03:19:22
2) Andreas Seewald and Martin Stošek/Canyon Northwave MTB: 03:19:24.1
3) Georg Egger and Lukas Baum/Speed Company Racing: 03:19:30.1

THE WOMEN’S RACE

BMC MTB Racing hang on for Stage 4 win at Absa Cape Epic.

Robyn de Groot and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (BMC MTB Racing) rode a blemish-free ride on Stage 4 in the CM.com Women’s category at the Absa Cape Epic to win their third stage of the event.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (left) and Robyn de Groot score the win in Stage 4. Photo: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic

 

De Groot admitted after the 82km stage that the plan was to have a self-imposed rest day, but Ferrand-Prévot’s winning mentality kicked in around 40km into the day; soon after BMC MTB Racing found themselves all alone at the front of the race.

The orange jersey wearers in the CM.com Women’s category, Sofia Gómez Villafane and Haley Batten (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized), hit a slight snag with barbed-wire entangled in a bike. This allowed De Groot and Ferrand-Prévot to break away on one of the early hills.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot leads Haley Batten while Robyn de Groot follows. Photo: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic

 

Faces Rola (Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss) also battled with a puncture, meaning BMC MTB Racing rode from halfway to finish all alone. De Groot appeared to be taking strain in the final 2km as Ferrand-Prévot powered home, but she managed to hang in for another victorious stage.

“That was an unintentional solo breakaway,” said De Groot. “I had the PFP-Express in front of me, so I just hung on and made sure I got to the finish. It’s great riding with Pauline as she is a super motivator. She really got me through today!”

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot leads Robyn de Groot, Haley Batten and Sofia Villafane during stage 4. Photo © Dom Barnardt / Cape Epic

 

Ferrand-Prévot said the team plan was to try and get away from the other teams on the singletrack, an objective they achieved. Thereafter, her racing instincts kicked in. “I don’t know what happened; I was just on fire! I felt so good out there today. I didn’t mean to hurt Robyn; I was just having so much fun.”

The general classification leaders in the CM.com Women’s category—NinetyOne-songo-Specialized—finished second on the stage, with Private Client Holdings (Hayley Preen and Mari Rabie) finishing third. Faces Rola came in fourth.

Women’s Stage 4 podium, left to right: Haley Batten & Sofia Gomez Villafane of NinetyOne-songo-Specialized (2nd), Pauline Ferrand Prevot & Robyn de Groot of BMC MTB Racing (1st), and Mari Rabie and Hayley Preen of Private Client Holdings (3rd) at the end of stage 4. Photo: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic

 

“That was another close day,” said Haley Batten of NinetyOne-songo-Specialized. “The women’s race has been so tight. I’m really enjoying it. We had a small mishap with the wire; it didn’t take too long to sort out, but it just allowed Robyn and Pauline to get in front. They are such strong riders. We tried, but we just couldn’t catch them. We had a lot of fun out there. The UFO Climb was steep and technical but the singletrack was great.”

Private Client Holdings’ Mari Rabie said she was surprised but happy with another podium after finishing third on Stages 3 and 4. “We didn’t expect this. We had some luck as Candice battled with a puncture, but we had a good ride. I was really surprised how well we rode on the technical trails because that is not our strength. I’m very impressed with our ride today!”

Batten and Gomez Villafane will start the 115km Stage 5 in the orange Ciovita leader jersey and with an 11-minute lead over second-placed BMC MTB Racing in the overall standings. The race from Greyton to Stellenbosch is sure to produce another close finish in the CM.com Women’s category.

Watch the Live Broadcast of Stage 5 from 08:30 on cape-epic.com.

Stage 4 Results:
1) Robyn de Groot and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot/BMC MTB Racing: 04:03:28.1
2) Haley Batten and Sofia Gomez Villafane/NinetyOne-songo-Specialized: 04:04:40.4
3) Hayley Preen and Mari Rabie/Private Client Holdings: 04:09:27.4

 

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