The shortest stage (excluding the prologue ) of the ABSA Cape Epic at 39km was no walk in the park. With 1390m of climbing, the “uphill” time trial was not going to be easy for most of the field as the temperature was set to reach 34 degrees at midday and the last riders were expected to take off well into mid morning.
The UCI Women left in two minute intervals from slowest to quickest on the GC so the leading Investec Songo Pair would be the last to leave the start ramp. It was anybody’s race as the top riders all having some XCO expertise were set to show off their short style riding.
The Ascendis Health pair blitzed the trail from the gun and seemed determined to take advantage of their skills. Sabine seemed back to full strength and determined to show her grit. The Investec Songo Team and Langvad and Courtney enjoyed some pace as they tackled the trails of Walvenpas. Silverback KMC with two XCO champions making up the pair showed their speed and flair and stayed within reach of the leaders.
At the 19km mark the splits confirmed Team Ascendis determination to take a stage win with a 10 second advantage over Team Investec Songo. As the Ascendis ladies crossed the line first, it was a waiting game to see if they had done enough to take the win. As Investec Songo raced to the line, the timing clocked confirmed they had recovered their disadvantage and in fact won the stage by a mere 12 seconds! A gutsy ride from both teams and some great racing.
The Silverback KMC team of Strauss and Last rounded out the podium with a solid performance, perhaps conserving some energy for the remaining two stages.
On the GC, Ascendis Health managed to take back a few minutes on Silverback KMC And the last two stages are sure to bring out a great fight between these two dynamic teams. Will the experience and class of Ascendis be able to dominate the youth and guts of Silverback KMC? I sure am excited to find out!
The African Women’s Jersey leaders Mcdougall and Lill remained fierce with a great 5th place on the stage and keeping that magical Red Jersey on their shoulders for another day.
The stage 5 women’s results:
The UCI Women