riders on the
After the overnight deluge, teams took to the trails of Wellington and had to contend with sporadic downpours, single-digit temperatures, mud, more mud, and a bit more mud.
The penultimate Stage 6 of the unique 2021 Absa Cape Epic saw a delayed start (08:00am as opposed to the usual 07:00am) and an altered route, all due to inclement overnight weather in Wellington.
It’s all part of The Race That Measures All, though, so while the rain and mud slowed the early pace there was no dampening of the racing spirit. “The way the route has been - with the first four stages all over four hours without a TT or something to break it up, it’s starting to tell,” said yellow jersey wearer Matt Beers. “The conditions were super bad, we were just getting bogged down in the mud (I blame my weight - I’m heavier so I think it was more difficult for me, haha) but all the boys – Buff Scott and BULLS 2 – never let us have a free watt. I appreciate the positive racing and I enjoy every day. I’m actually going to be a bit sad when it’s over.”
Stepping up on the day of days, however, was Simon Stiebjahn and Martin Frey of Team BULLS 2. In eight race starts, Stiebjahn has been on the stage podium multiple times, but had never won a stage.
The pros all finished in under four-and-a-half hours. Spare a thought for the midfielders and back-markers who spend six hours and more out there
“It’s a great moment and I’m really happy to share it with Martin. I want to thank the whole team who work so hard everyday.
NinetyOne-songo-Specialized finished second on the stage and lead BULLS 2 by 06:38, with one day of racing left.
Sina Frei and Laura Stigger (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) had to work for their seventh stage victory, being pushed to a sprint finish by Mariska Strauss and Candice Lill of Faces CST. Stigger lost two contact lenses on the stage and took a wrong turn, but was quick to point out that that wasn’t the reason for the close finish. “Candice and Mariske really made us suffer today. They were very strong. It was super close in the end. It was a good race.”
The pros all finished in under four-and-a-half hours. Spare a thought for the midfielders and back-markers who spend six hours and more out there. Fortunately the rain abated around lunchtime and the sun came out, helping to dry things up a bit.
The final stage of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic is a relatively breezy 68km from Wellington to the Grand Final at Val de Vie.