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Balz Weber fighting tough African racing conditions with Table Mountain as backdrop (Photo: A. Kuestenbrueck)
Balz Weber fighting tough African racing conditions with Table Mountain as backdrop (Photo: A. Kuestenbrueck)

ABSA Cape Epic: Stage two - BMC Mountainbike Racing Team among the leaders for 60km

29. March 2011

Tulbagh, South Africa

Infamous chief course designer of "the epic", Leon Evans, had announced plenty of his beloved torturous instruments spread out across 104km and 2,300m elevation change only to be swallowed up by the blistering pace of the race leaders.

Stage two took the riders into the depths of ancient South African history, following old pioneer trails of the Boers people that were re-opened up just for the race. After a climb of 6km in length and 1,000 meters of elevation change, the pioneer trail awaited the riders with technical corners, short climbs and descents that helped the peloton recover from the tough first part of the stage.
Heading back towards the finish with view over famed Table Mountain, riders were challenged on a last technical descent - the one they had to climb upwards at the beginning of the stage. With temperatures exceeding 33 degrees centigrade and no shade, some might have been tempted to take a quick bath in one of the bonds bordering the race course despite the clock ticking. Course designer Evans had predicted the winners to cross the finish line within 4:45 hrs. He lied. The Swiss-South African duo Sauser-Stander's speedy office day ended after 4:32hrs. only.

Our BMC Mountainbike Racing Team was able to stay with the lead group for about 60 kilometers before they were forced to slow down due to dehydration suffered from the hot, changing wind blowing across Africa. Balz Weber and Alex Moos picked up the pace again after the third water stop and went all out in the final stages of the race to finish the day in 11th place after 4:51:42hrs. , 18:59 minutes behind the winners. Their final surge secured them retention of a top-10 ranking in the overall classification at 10:05:13hrs. and 37:35 min. behind the dominant 36one-Songo-Specialized duo Christoph Sauer/Burry Stander Team in 10th place.

Tomorrow's third stage departs in Tulbagh and finishes 125km and 1,900m of elevation change later in Worcester. The entire race village accompanying the riders will be moving to its next station in the meantime. Racing along smooth farmland trails, rough surface in some section will put bike equipment to test. To be seen tomorrow...

Text: Ugo Dessimoz, translated from French