Mountain biking

Absa Cape Epic 2021

The Cape Epic 2021 returns after an absence of 32 months to the beautiful and iconic Table Mountain in Cape Town (RSA). The Absa Cape Epic is the world’s premier mountain bike stage race. This year’s route takes amateur and professional mountain bikers from around the world through 619km of unspoilt scenery and 15.250m of accumulated climbing, over some of the most magnificent mountain passes in the Western Cape, South Africa. The eight-day Absa Cape Epic is the most widely broadcasted mountain bike stage race in the world and is classified as hors catégorie by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

Absa Cape Epic 2021 - Stage 1 in Ceres (RSA): Double victory for team Bulls

In a tight finish on Stage 1, the BULLS (Urs Huber & Simon Schneller) and BULLS 2 (Martin Frey & Simon Stiebjahn) teams claimed first and second respectively, with Canyon Northwave MTB (Andreas Seewald & Martin Stošek) racing home in third. Prologue winners NinetyOne-songo-Specialized (Matt Beers & Jordan Sarrou) finished in fourth, but retained their overall lead with a healthy gap of just under two minutes over second-placed team Canyon Northwave MTB.

Absa Cape Epic newbies, Sina Frei and Laura Stigger (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized), blitzed Stage 1 in the Elite women’s race, today. Riding comfortably, with great control and composure throughout, the first-timers cruised home in 4:34:52 - nearly five minutes ahead of second-placed finishers Ariane Luthi and Robyn De Groot (Salusmed).

Absa Cape Epic 2021 - Stage 2: French-South African duo Jordan Sarrou / Matthew Beers and Swiss-Austrian women's duo Sina Frei / Laura Stigger extend lead

Jordan Sarrou (FRA) & Matt Beers (RSA) (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) now hold a 2:13 lead over Andreas Seewald (GER) and Martin Stosek (CZE) (Canyon Northwave MTB) in the overall standings after convincingly winning today's stage. The four leading women's teams remained together throughout much of today's race, but ultimately Sina Frei (SUI) & Laura Stigger (AUT) (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) proved too strong, breaking away on the final climb before riding home comfortably to claim the Stage 2 win.

Absa Cape Epic 2021 - Stage 3: German-Czech duo Andreas Seewald / Martin Stošek celebrate stage victory, Sina Frei / Laura Stigger continuing march towards overall glory

Andreas Seewald and his partner Martin Stošek powered today to an important stage win. The Canyon Northwave MTB pair remain in second overall, but they have cut the lead of NinetyOne-songo-Specialized’s Matt Beers and Jordan Sarrou down to 01:43. Samuele Porro and Fabian Rabensteiner (Trek-Pirelli) managed as the only team to stick with Seewald and Stošek on the blockbuster Fanties Pass, with all four riders racing towards the finish on the final, flattish last 10km. Urs Huber and Simon Schneller of BULLS were able to finish third on the day and the wearer of the yellow jersey, Beers and Sarrou took the fifth place.

Sina Frei and Laura Stigger (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) also dominated Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic in Tulbagh today, continuing their commanding march towards overall glory. They finished the stage nearly four minutes ahead of their nearest rivals, Robyn de Groot and Ariane Lüthi (Salusmed), giving themselves a mammoth 11-minute lead in the women’s race general classification. The stage provided plenty of drama, with crashes and snapped chains occurring at high frequency.

Absa Cape Epic 2021 - Stage 4: Dutch-Portuguese duo Hans Becking / Jose Dias claim first stage wing, Sina Frei / Laura Stigger take fifth win in a row

It was the day of the Dutch-Portuguese duo of Hans Becking and Jose Dias, riding in the colors of Buff Scott MTB, who rode a flawless race to win Stage 4 of the Cape Epic. Overall leaders Matt Beers and Jordan Sarrou (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) claimed second on the day, extending their overall lead through skill and circumstance - their nearest rivals, Canyon Northwave MTB, abandoned the stage before the start due to stomach complaints for Martin Stošek. Andreas Seewald continued as a solo rider but is out of the racing. German pair Martin Frey and Simon Stiebjahn from Team BULLS 2 finished in third today. Their fellow team BULLS rider Simon Schneller was also ill overnight but opted to start regardless. Despite the illness, he managed to complete the stage.

The women’s race saw a dominating Sina Frei and Laura Stigger (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) again, who won their fifth consecutive Cape Epic stage in the Slanghoek Valley today. Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss (Faces CST) finished second with Robyn de Groot and Ariane Lüthi (Salusmed) in third.

Absa Cape Epic 2021 - Stage 5: Dutch-Portuguese duo Hans Becking / Jose Dias win again, Sina Frei / Laura Stigger remain unbeaten

Hans Becking and Jose Dias of Buff Scott MTB claimed another stage victory at the 2021 Absa Cape Epic, following up their Stage 4 triumph with an equally impressive display to claim Stage 5 in Wellington. Martin Frey and Simon Stiebjahn (BULLS 2) finished second, with Yellow Jersey overall leaders Matt Beers and Jordan Sarrou (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) taking third on the day.

In the women’s it was another near-perfect ride from Sina Frei & Laura Stigger (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) as they claimed their sixth stage win of the event. Candice Lill and fellow South African Mariske Strauss finished 1 minute and 43 seconds behind them, followed by team Salusmed and the duo Ariane Lüthi and Robyn de Groot.

Absa Cape Epic 2021 - Stage 6: BULLS 2 team Frey/Stiebjahn take penultimate stage victory, Frei/Stigger cross the finish line first in nail-biting sprint finish with Strauss/Lill

In the men’s race it was Martin Frey and Simon Stiebjahn who won the penultimate stop of the Cape Epic 2021 in Wellington today. It was the first stage win for the BULLS 2 pair at the 2021 event and for Stiebjahn his first in eight Cape Epic appearances. Overall leader NinetyOne-songo-Specialized also showed strong racing today and crossed the finish line just 1.5sec after team BULL 2. Hans Becking and José Dias (Buff Scott MTB) who won the last two stages finished third.

The women’s race saw a nail biting battle between Faces CST and NinetyOne-songo-Specialized. Both teams were approaching the finish line together which led into a nail biting sprint finish. Mariske Strauss was over the line first, but Sina Frei and Laura Stigger crossed together ahead of Candice Lill and took their seventh stage win. The Swiss - Austrian duo has now a comfortable overall lead of 30 minutes and 12 seconds.

Absa Cape Epic 2021 - Grand Finale: Jordan Sarrou (FRA) & Matthew Beers (RSA) crowned 2021 Cape Epic champions, Frei/Stigger (SUI/AUT) youngest winners in the women’s race

Today’s route led riders from Wellington to Val de Vie. The Grand Finale was one last test of 68 kilometres of untamed mountain biking. In the men’s race, it was team Buff Scott MTB of Hans Becking & José Dias, who were able to claim the prestigious last stage win. NinetyOne-songo-Specialized played it safe and followed only four seconds behind them. Jordan Sarrou & Matthew Beers are crowned the well-deserved 2021 Cape Epic champions! They are the first ever men team to wear the yellow leader jersey at the start of every stage. The women’s race was not up for any surprises either. Team 91-Songo-Specialized made it the perfect race by winning all eight stages. Sina Frei & Laura Stigger (SUI/AUT) are the youngest Cape Epic winners in the women’s race ever with an phenomenal performance from start to finish in their also first ever Cape Epic appearance.

 

 

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (GC) - MEN

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (GC) - WOMEN

1. NinetyOne-songo-Specialized / Jordan SARROU (FRA #3-1) & Matthew BEERS (RSA #3-2) 25:17:28.2

1 91-Songo-Specialized / Sina FREI (SUI #54-1) & Laura STIGGER (AUT #54-2) 30:39:52.8

2. BULLS 2 / Martin FREY (GER #5-1) & Simon STIEBJAHN (GER #5-2) 25:26:27.8 +00:08:59.6

2. Faces CST / Candice LILL (RSA #51-1) & Mariske STRAUSS (RSA #51-2) 31:20:51.6 +00:40:58.8

3. Buff Scott MTB / Hans BECKING (NED #6-1) & José DIAS (POR #6-2) 25:32:02.3 +00:14:34.1

3. Salusmed / Ariane LÜTHI (SUI #50-1) & Robyn DE GROOT (RSA #50-2) 31:32:38.0 +00:52:45.1

RACE info here!

Text and photo: quattro media GmbH

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