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  • Writer's picturedirtyheart

GHOST Factory Racing make it four from four in Aramex Women’s Category - Absa Cape Epic

In the Aramex Women’s Category on Stage 3, GHOST Factory Racing, Cannondale Factory Racing (Candice Lill and Mona Mitterwallner), Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne (Sofia Gomez Villafane and Samara Sheppard), as they have done all week so far, set the early pace.

At one point on the Waterval climb, it looked like GHOST Factory Racing’s Nicole Koller was in trouble, needing to walk for a few metres. This proved to be a moment of false hope for the other women’s teams, as Koller was soon back on her bike and leading from the front alongside Terpstra.

From then, it looked like another three-team tussle for the stage until Efficient Infiniti SCB SRAM (Vera Looser and Alexis Skarda) appeared in the manner of an overexuberant child jumping out from behind the curtains and yelling ‘surprise’ at an unsuspecting granny, and added to the frontline festivities.

American rider Skarda looked to be having a good time on the stage, putting in a few attacks, but the Efficient Infiniti SCB SRAM challenge eventually faded, leaving GHOST, Cannondale and Specialized to race for stage honours. In a move that surprised even them, Terpstra and Koller upped the tempo around 70km and were able to pull away from Lill, Mitterwallner, Villafane and Sheppard.

With no response forthcoming from Cannondale Factory Racing and Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne, the Orange Jersey leaders were able to comfortably cruise to their fourth stage win out of four at the 2024 Absa Cape Epic.

"It was pretty hard in the beginning,” said Terpstra. “There were a lot of turns and rocks and you couldn't get into a good rhythm. Eventually, we got going, though and found a nice pace. We were surprised to get a little bit of a gap on the jeep track. Once we had it, we thought we’d try to stay out in front. However, it was a long way to the finish, so we weren't sure what would happen. But it was nice that we could keep it up until the end and take another stage.”

Mitterwallner admitted that she and Lill tried to make the racing hard for the overall leaders, but just could shake them off. “GHOST had all the answers every time we tried something. Then they attacked when we didn’t expect them to attack and for me, I could just not respond.”

Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic might be the perfect opportunity for Mitterwallner and partner Lill to respond though. At 88km long with 3000m of climbing, Stage 4 is undoubtedly the Queen Stage of this year’s Epic. South African riders will know the trails well, so expect to see the likes of Lill, Beers and other local riders guiding their partners through the monstrous twists and turns on the day.

Aramex Women's Category, Stage 3

1 Anne Terpstra & Nicole Koller (GHOST Factory Racing) 4:31:27

2 Candice Lill & Mona Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory Racing) 4:32:43

3 Sofia Gomez Villafane & Samara Sheppard (Toyota-Specialized-Ninetyone) 4:32:44

Aramex Women's Category GC after Stage 3

1 Anne Terpstra & Nicole Koller (GHOST Factory Racing) 15:22:54

2 Candice Lill & Mona Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory Racing) 15:25:23

3 Sofia Gomez Villafane & Samara Sheppard (Toyota-Specialized-Ninetyone) 15:30:48



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