Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011 Absa Cape Epic Stage 3 - Stage 3: Saronsberg in Tulbagh - Worcester 125km - Updated

Update 11:48 PM: Well I don't have any information about the boys but I do have a video of todays ball buster of a stage. Enjoy. 

Gray and Don achieved the following results:
I could not locate a listing at any of the check points, or in either the non-finishers, or solo riders for either Gary or Don. If anyone knows if they are still racing, or have retired from the race please post in the comments. Until, then I will pray that they are safe, and nursing a cold one in the shade. 

2011  Stage 3 Results
The German team of Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss (Multivan Merida Biking) beat the South African/Swiss team of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser (36ONE Songo Specialized) in a sprint finish by 2,8 seconds, securing their first stage win in this year’s Absa Cape Epic. Stander and Sauser still lead overall by 6 minutes and 15 seconds, with three times winners Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (Bulls team) in fourth place overall and 8 minutes and 32 seconds behind the leaders. 

I couldn't find any 2011 Stage 3 Videos 'yet' so enjoy video from last years stage 3 until I do. 

Note From Live Update:
Today's stage has been called the toughest ever by Christoph Sauser, current leader of the Cape Epic.

Dr Evil creates most challenging route ever 

The dramatic new route of the eighth edition of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas seems to be more challenging this year than any of the previous events, if rider comments are anything to go by. 

Unexpected end for Roberto Heras 

Roberto Heras (from Spain) of team Giant-PACTO-DS, who was participating in this year’s Absa Cape Epic up to Stage 2, had to withdraw from the race after falling ill early on during this year’s event. Heras was participating with Luis Alberto Da Costa from Portugal, with Heras heading back to his home country this morning. 

Bloggers: Cape Epic Day 4: Not real mountain biking

“Today I give a gold medal for the most stupid stage I ever done :(that’s not real mountain biking! Good luck to all the amateurs on the course.”

This was a tweet from four-time Cape Epic winner Karl Platt after finishing a gruelling day 4 (Stage 3) this afternoon.

Starting on Saronsberg wine farm outside Tulbagh, the route headed south, up a 4km climb onto a plateau across the valley from Wolseley and down a deeply rutted descent, along farm roads, back up into the mountains, down, up, etc until reaching Worcester.

My correspondence to friends earlier in the day was somewhat more sorrowful than Platt’s: “Stayed up getting sick all night, and this morning. Tried to force down supper and breakfast but wouldn’t stay. Couldn’t eat or drink. Eventually couldn’t ride. Sure I’ll ride again tomorrow, but it’s a blue number board for me :( ”

Blue number boards are for those who have been disqualified, but are still riding the route.

After losing my breakfast to a field in Tulbagh this morning, I had felt remarkably better and climbed on my bike with some optimism. Maybe, just maybe I’d be able to get in enough food and keep it down for a slow ride to Worcester.

I made it across the flats with a smile, and managed to take in some water. As we started climbing up towards the plateau, the nausea returned. Justin, my Epic partner, and I stopped and I crammed down a banana before climbing on our bikes again.

The track was gravely and difficult to ride as the rocks kept crunching, slipping, and shooting out from under our wheels. I became dizzy as we rode slowly along the plateau and colours started to flash, hot and cold flushed through me. My plan was to make it to the next water stop and reassess there, but I was worried I would collapse in a bush before then, unknown kilometres from medics or race officials.

“You’ve got to eat bru,” Justin kept telling me. “Do you like raisins? You want some biltong? Try a sandwich.”

He handed me a usually delicious treat his girlfriend had made for him with dates and coconut. I nodded reluctantly and took a bite.

The sweet lump lay on my tongue for a few seconds before I took it out and put the date ball in my back pocket. As Justin said later in the day: “You just went grey.”

At the time, his words were: “You’re looking a bit pale. Actually you’re looking much better than you did earlier though. How about an energy bar?” This was where I kindly threatened him with violence.

He has since admitted to lying in an effort to encourage me. My face was ashen and my eyes sunken; I looked as bad as I felt.

We stopped at a group of locals who had driven their 4×4s into the mountain to watch. They told us we still had 12km to go until the next water point: there was no way I could see myself doing it and I gave in.

Justin apparently took another hour and a half to get to the water point and nine hours in total to finish the stage: “That was the hardest day of riding in my entire life. Most of the time the ground was like riding in a river bed.”

As he and others rode, I sat in a bakkie bouncing along smoother tracks to Worcester. By the minute, officials radioed in the race numbers of riders dropping out of the race. “Leon (the course designer Dr Evil) said it’s going to be carnage out there. They’re going to have to extend the cut-off time.”

Real mountain biking? I couldn’t agree or disagree with Mr Platt as I didn’t ride far enough. My disappointment is acute and I had to choke back tears as I smsed my friends of my failure, or bad luck, depending which philosophy I choose.

The internal battle is a difficult one to manage: Was it simply dehydration? Am I just not tough enough? Maybe I caught a bug. Who knows.

I would like to ride tomorrow and every day till the finish – I intend to – but I’m still having to ram food down my throat, and the medic’s earlier scolding is ringing clear: “If you can’t eat, you can’t ride.”

So I’m off to the dinner tent now to see what’ll go down.

Note From Live Update: 
Tomorrow sees the the second time trial stage. The first time there are two time trials in a Cape Epic.

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