Mens Race (Team I)
Topeak Ergon Racing (Team I) featuring the reigning Marathon World Champion Alban Lakata and teammate Kristian Hynek are willing to give it their everything after their 2015 second place finish, for these two powerhouses only the victory counts. They proceed as the top favorites in the race, but the Cape Epic makes its own rules.
Mens Race (Team 2)
The legendary stage race starts and finishes this year in one of the top wines estates in South Africa. 26 km and 700 m climbing must be endured around the Meerendal Wine Estate.
Dry red wine may be a speciality of this region, but for man and machine the extreme dryness isn't enjoyable.
The Goal is Always in Sight
The current height profile is always fixed on the handlebars of Lux CF. This way, power division and course tactics can be considered and adjusted quickly when needed.
Adelheid and Sally start in a positive mood and very motivated to race. The two already gained racing experience with their comfortable victory at Swiss Epic 2015.
The lush green lawns of the property on the first few meters are followed by the finest dust, coarse gravel and withered landscape.
Bike Park Session
Debris, bare soil, switchbacks, brims, all Northshore elements. The varied course demands a lot from the riders directly from the start. Unfortunately, there's no shuttle service ...
On the last meters Jeremiah and Erik fly to the finish line. Once again, full concentration is required to get maximum traction on the bone-dry, slippery surface.
Kristian and Alban as favorites stand under constant media monitoring. The booming noise of the rotors of the TV helicopter guarantees an atmosphere that causes goose bumps.
Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek save valuable power in the chase group. Their tactic was to attack at the end!
100 kilometers away from the Prologue in Meerendal there is no green in sight. The extreme drought takes its toll on the race course. Thick dust clouds limit the riders view and make breathing difficult. Yet our tenacious women team remains highly focused.
Oasis in Sight
Erik Kleinhans and Jeremiah Bishop are preparing for the last refreshment station. On a short break it is about refueling and not thinking - even here not a second should be wasted.
On the last meters Kristian Hynek and Alban Lakata need to give it everything they have just one more time. The teeth clenching and pain will be worthwhile: Alban and Kristian fight their way to second place shortly before the finish line.
Every Second Counts
Sally Bigham and Adelheid Morath give everything until they are behind the finish line. In the end, the moment even blinking an eye can decide between your victory or defeat.
Jeremiah Bishop wears the typical Cape Epic makeup on his face - the Rouge-tone suits him quite well...
Let The Water Flow!
Refreshing, cooling, cleaning. The shower after the race not only has a hygienic purpose, but provides important motivation during the race.
After a somewhat disappointing Prologue, today Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek make the leap to the podium with a 2nd place finish.
Stage 2 provides an unusual landscape. A hard technical uphill climb leads the field in a high altitude loop. In the Valley there are many different extremes: dreary desert landscape with parched vegetation, and colorful plantations and lush fruit bushes.
It takes only one small incident and the race can be over. Fortunately Kristian Hynek only got some added color when he fell. With his iron will he fights his way back to the chase group - a true professional.
Always in a Good Mood
Workhorse Jeremiah Bishop, nothing can bring him out of his calm demeanor. First he helps Kristian Hynek after his fall, catch back up to the chase group, then he pulls back to bring up teammate Erik Kleinhans - Nevertheless JB is always good for a laugh.
The exhausting rise in the back, it comes with a high pulse at the stop in the downhill. Here concentration is highly Demanded, Because in the ground surface is Constantly changing, the smallest error can cause a fatal crash.
A violent crash destroyed Kristian Hynek's right shoe. At the next waterpoint Team 2 stands ready. Erik Kleinhans administers first aid - and exchanges his shoe with Kristian and repairs the defective one to suffice till the end of the stage.
Down For The Count
Kristian Hynek is done when he reaches the finish. A fall, a broken shoe, and a puncture cost time and an increased the gap to the leaders.
Blown Off the Bike
Sally Bigham and Adelheid Morath were giving full throttle, with the stage win in focus. But shortly before the finish their chance of success ended abruptly: Adelheid Morath was literally blown off the bike by a helicopter.
Fully on Track
After a self-sacrificing fight and an excellent second place stage finish, leaves the girls in third place in the overall standings - respect!
For the Cape Epic only the best materials are suitable. Ergon products are designed in cooperation with the Topeak Ergon Racing Team, so they can easily withstand the hardcore use in extreme environments.
Behind the seemingly chaotic dismantling there is a hidden sophisticated system. This is the only way to establish a smooth move to the next camp.
While the professional teams can curl up in caravans, the amateur riders must be content with classic camping in their own tent village.
Let Me Give You a Hug!
Guest rider Adelheid Morath is sincerely welcomed by teammate Sally Bigham to the team. The two not only have a very good understanding, but are also racing in perfect harmony. Currently the women are in second place.
Alban Lakata from Austria knows steep mountains all too well. HOWEVER, 32 degrees Celsius and the blazing sun make it tough conditions this time of year.
A good view of the route is not enough to keep the rider on course. Therefore the field is led by motorcyclists at sufficient intervals . Not a bad job!
Alban Lakata sucked the last Drop of liquid from his bottle. When doing so, extreme caution is advised on the bone-dry ground.
No Pain no Gain
Kristian Hynek is again victim to the extreme conditions. The dust raised on the downhill blocking any view. A large stone threw him out of the saddle. With a gaping flesh wound on his arm and aching ribs he silently fights alongside with Alban Lakata to take third place.
Suffer and Solace
Stage 3 has demanded everything from Adelheid Morath. Overwhelmed by the emotion of leaving ever thing on the course she relies on a great teamate for some support. Sometimes you just need a hug.
Replenish Energy Reserves
The team riders push their bodies to the limits every stage. To replenish their energy supply for the next day, proper nutrition is needed. Our team chef Craig knows exactly what is important and conjures up a healthy feast every day at his camp kitchen.
Shortly before the start Kristian Hynek does not know whether the race continues on for him. But he wants to try it anyway ...
Valuable tools is an essential during the Cape Epic. Each rider takes with him what he needs and must be able to help himself during the race.
Kristian Hynek lines up at the start with his newly-sewn wound. After a few meters, he has to break off and leave teammate Alban Lakata - the pain is unbearable. While the dust cloud of the other riders slowly vanishes, he will be brought to the hospital and undergo a health check.
After failure of Kristian Hynek, Alban Lakata has to tackle the stage alone from start to finish. From tomorrow forward the Albanator goes on as an "Outcast" in the competition.
The Cape Epic can be won only as a team. It is always necessary to be together, even more importantly if one is suffering a downturn.
Jeremiah BIshop and Erik Kleinhans are pleased with the 28% single-track portion of the fourth stage. This ensures variety and pure riding pleasure! The road network in South Africa offers fantastic trails in top conditions.
In steep climbs you fight only against yourself and your inner demons, that means head down and push forward!
Even though Sally Bigham and Adel Morath cannot keep contact to the lead teams, they are able to grasp 3rd place.
A black day for our men, but the girls hold the Topeak-Ergon flag high and grab third place on the podium. Sally Bigham and Adelheid Morath are still in second place in the overall classification.
Each morning at 5:15 AM, the camp is awakened by the traditional bagpiper. The most thankless job but has the most disliked position at the Cape Epic.
Keep On Rolling ...
After Stage 5 the riders have covered more than 400 km and 9200 vertical meters already. Nonetheless the morning warm-up on the rollers is an essential item on the agenda.
Severe Diagnosis ...
An infected wound and a broken ligament in the elbow reaffirms Kristian Hynek's decision to not continue the race. He remains in the camp to support his teammates.
Herd of Buffalo
When the starter's field leaves the paved roads, the ground begins to shake. No fun for the riders and mechanics, Because the whirling dust settles in every tiny crevice of every little component.
After Kristian Hynek's withdrawal, Team 2 can now concentrate fully on their own race. There is high media interest When Jeremiah Bishop and Erik Kleinhans get involved in the lead group.
Pushed To The Limit
Every day the riders capacity for suffering is put to the test. But after the fifth stage the pain threshold seems is nearly reached; even by someone with the name "Iron Sally."
Since Kristian Hynek left the race Alban Lakata is left on his own, but still in a great mood. The Albanator is clearing up the field from the back wearing the Outcast Jersey. That leaves enough time for a nice gesture.
Again, Sally Bigham and Adelheid Morath have grabbed another third place spot on the podium. However the stage win is unfortunately realized - only two more chances remain.
Spectator points are often near one of the many South African wineries. It may be the best wine in South Africa, but at 9AM the fans probably feel like drinking coffee.
It is hardly surprising that local Erik Kleinhans was highly motivated on the 6th stage, pushing out good results. The South African knows this region like the back of his hand.
The South Africa barbecue is called Braai and it is a traditional sign of hospitality. However, the riders must be satisfied
with power bars and gels until after the race.
In the Mood to Shred!
Stage 6 contains tons of singletrack and it is the most fun stage for the riders. Adelheid Morath still struggling with extreme knee pain, managed to push through, and the women had an excellent third place finish.
The Cape Epic is one of the top events on the annual calendar of the South Africans - mountain biking is one of the most popular sports. Therefore the spectator interest is very high, especially among the younger generation.
Erik Kleinhans and Jeremiah Bishop deliver their best performance from this year's Cape Epic. Team 2 is not only a driving force, but they can also keep up with the front-runners, coming in today in an impressive fourth place.
"After the race is before the race." The daily massage not only loosens the hardened muscles and improves blood circulation, it also provides mental relaxation.
Erik Kleinhans lives here in Boschendal just around the corner. Because of this he is pretty well known. Many of his friends and neighbors have come to cheer loudly for the South African.
Yesterday, Sally Bigham and Adel Morath have lost their second place standing in the overall GC on Stage 6. They are now on the final stage under special observation - can they recapture second place?
In rank and file and the riders climb the few peaks of the somewhat flat stage to Meerendal. Anyone who wants to break away here, must go full throttle ...
No Sightseeing ...
Stage 7 leads riders through dreamy vineyards around Durbanville. HOWEVER, Sally Bigham and Adel Morath can hardly enjoy the view. The few steep and dusty climbs require full their full attention.
The last section leads through numerous kilometers of bumpy dirt roads. Not a very technically demanding stage, but our two Topeak-Ergon girls have to be extremely careful to not let the competition pass them by.
The interest in the Cape Epic is enormous, love especially during the final stage. Photographers and reporters from around the world fight to get the best seats at the finish.
Jeremiah Bishop and Erik Kleinhans arrive just in time for the champagne showers of the winners. Competitors become friends again ...
Finally at the Goal
Exhausted but happy Sally Bigham and Adel Morath receive their well deserved medals for 3rd Place.