stage 2 - report

Ploffie screams “Perfect!”

Blevins & Beers “fly” into the Stage win.

"Perfect!” That was the word from helicopter pilot Pieter Massyn on how Tuesday 21 March’s Stage 2 around Hermanus unfolded. While ‘Ploffie’ (as he is affectionately known) was referring to flying conditions for the camera helicopters after having been grounded due to gale force winds the previous day, it was indeed an apt description of how Matt Beers and Christopher Belvins finished the 116-kilometre stage.

“Chris told me to take a flyer,” Matt commented, explaining how they attacked with around 2kms to go on the longest stage of the 19th Absa Cape Epic. After some 1 850 metres of climbing (much of which came in the second half through Akkadisberg and Paardenberg ranges) in the stage that took the riders through the growing network of trails around Stanford as well as taking in the Ultimate Southern Pass and Missing Link Trails, Beers powered off the front. Blevins stuck with Nino Schurter and Andri Frischknecht and then surged ahead to connect. Comfortable in the Yellow leader jersey, Schurter and Frischknecht (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing) were happy to let them go.

As Stanford came out to celebrate and show why they are not thirsty, most riders tried to stay hydrated. The biggest losers on the day were (ORBEA x Leatt x Speed Company) who lost over two minutes to the yellow jersey due to a series of setbacks, which included running out of water as well as a mechanical.

In the women’s category, Kim le Court and Vera Looser (Efficient Infiniti Insure) won in a time of 05:28:42; and Villafane and Nash (NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized). With Stage 1 winner, Wakefield, recovering from late-night surgery to her arm injury and dealing with a lack of sleep, the onus was on Villafane and Nash or Efficient Infiniti Insure to attack at some stage. For Wakefield and Lill, the aim was always to ride defensively on the day and make sure no team was able to eat into their overall lead.

On a stage that featured few opportunities for decisive moves, the three women’s teams couldn't be separated. Looser and Le Court eventually made the killer move with 5km to go, though Looser misjudged her attack slightly, thinking she only had a kilometre or two left of the racing. Wakefield and Lill were satisfied with their ride, happy to not lose any time in the overall lead. “I’m feeling ‘okay’,” said Wakefield, after the injury and surgery on Monday night. “I won’t lie, I felt every bump and I’m pretty sore. But it is what it is and I had to take it to get through the stage.”

Lill was slightly more impressed with her partner, labelling her a superwoman. “Amy is amazing,” she said. “It was a good race today, tight and tactical. We raced hard in parts and took it easier in other parts. It was a long day, but we're still in Orange. That’s where we want to be.”

Also exactly where they want to be are the leaders of the various other racing categories including Australian Mitchell Docker and his American teammate Ian Boswell (Digger and the Doughboy). They pair of former UCI World Tour roadies kept hold of the new (and highly competitive) Amateur category White jerseys ahead of Oliver Munnik and Rogan Short (Signal Racing). “I made sure to take a moment today to appreciate the amazing views along the way,” Docker mused afterwards. “Even though the race is taxing, it is important for us to not only race but to enjoy the complete experience that is the Absa Cape Epic.”