Monday, 29 March 2010

The final day of the taxing 2010 Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas saw riders cover 65km and 1 640m of climbing, cycling from Oak Valley to their final destination at the Lourensford Wine Estate. As is tradition, the last stage was the shortest, but not easy. As riders approached vineyards, they knew it was all about short, sharp climbs before some longer and even steeper ones through Nuweberg, up to the superb vistas of Elgin/Grabouw.

In 2010 the Absa Cape Epic took a new route into the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, on Buysepad, skirting Gantouw Pass. There was no portage this year, but route designer Dr Evil had something else in mind before riders headed down for a traditional finish to the 2010 Absa Cape Epic. Hundreds of enthusiastic spectators welcomed the exhausted teams at the final finish line of this year’s event.

Of the 1172 riders who started their epic journey at Diemersfontein a week ago, 83.6% have successfully completed their Absa Cape Epic adventure by crossing the final finish line at the Lourensford Wine Estate. In the remaining 16.4% figure that is not classified as official finishers, the blue board riders are included. 445 teams were ranked on the GC (General Classification), with both team riders awarded the medal as official Absa Cape Epic finishers. 90 individual cyclists successfully completed the 8 stages without their partners.

Andrew Clayton achieved the following results:
Stage Time : 5:08.32,6
Stage Position : 248. in Men category and 372. in general classification
Overall Time : 58:37.36,7
Overall Position : 278. in Men category and in 421. general classification

Penultimate stage of 2010 Absa Cape Epic

Rainy weather conditions greeted the Absa Cape Epic enthusiasts for stage 7 in Oak Valley. Today’s stage was beautiful, but hard. Most riders are relieved that tomorrow will be the final stage of this year’s epic adventure and are looking forward to returning home with their finisher jerseys and medals, a treasured possession for all. Stage 7 took riders over 99km and 2 160 of climbing. The short sharp hills early on really burnt with five minutes up and 15 seconds down making riders work hard. After the descent past Houwhoek Inn riders passed Botriver onto some fast gravel roads through the farmland. On the main obstacle of the day up to Lebanon Highlands Plantation, rocks and loose ground forced them to get off their bikes in the steep areas. Dassenberg proved difficult due to its sandy surface as well as level of complexity. Not long in kilometers, this climb took even the most experienced participants more than half an hour to master. After crossing over to Houteq, it was singletrack heading into Lebanon for some of the most coveted trails in the Cape. More short, steep climbs stood in the way of a final stretch of swooping paths to the finish line.

Hardest stage of the 2010 Absa Cape Epic completed

Stage 6 took riders from Worcester to Oak Valley, a distance of 123km and 2 240m of climbing. After a neutral convoy out of Worcester, riders were soon hugging the shores of Brandvlei Dam. Then the ups and downs began; retracing some of the 2009 route in reverse. Climbs were short but some gradients reached up to 26%. A dead-straight chute took the field down to the canals, through the orchards, then into some singletrack and finally over the wall of the vast Theewaterskloof Dam. The race then took a short-cut through a hidden valley to Porcupine Hills before reaching the foot of another monument of the Absa Cape Epic, the Groenlandberg Cape Nature conservation area.

Route designer “Dr Evil” found a new way for riders to conquer this beautiful beast. The first part followed a steep dirt road up to Water Point 3 and part two took riders into virgin Epic mountain biking territory and deep into nature, all the way to the Groenlandberg saddle. This offered views of the beautiful Elgin Valley, and the treat of the day was fast and smooth singletrack in Thandi and Oak Valley.

Friday, 26 March 2010

In the 27km time trial stage, teams set off at 30 second intervals (in reverse order according to their overall ranking). The route formed a figure of eight through the foothills of Brandwacht, taking the race along the western side of Worcester through semi-desert vegetation. Eight hundred and sixty metres of climbing is a great deal on any mountain biking day, but over one 27km it was extremely demanding. At the end of Stage 5, 21.4% of the teams have dropped out, and 14.6% of the overall riders (as some riders are still continuing their Epic journey without their partners).

Andrew Clayton achieved the following results:

Stage Time



Stage Position


276. in Men category and 419. in general classification

Overall Time



Overall Position


284. in Men category and in 438. general classification

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Andrew's most recent results in the Cape Epic

Leaving Ceres for the last time, riders faced a short climb up Mitchell's Pass, which was followed by a fast downhill section on tar, before turning off into the winelands past Waverly Hills Farm and Mountain Ridge. Then came a long zig-zagging section of rustic dual and singletrack up and down the foothills of the mountains, before the cyclists finally climbed up onto the saddle. After another descent and climb to the next saddle ahead, riders were rewarded with spectacular views into the Breede River Valley. Even when they had home in their sights, there was still a rough 2km Boesmanberg climb to scale before they finally reached their destination.

Andrew Clayton achieved the following results:
Stage Time: 7:30.47,1
Stage Position: 285. in Men category and 443. in general classification
Overall Time: 33:52.47,7
Overall Position: 289. in Men category and in 444. general classification

Exhilarating welcome in Worcester

The Absa Cape Epic enthusiasts who completed Stage 4 of the Magical and Untamed African mountain bike race were welcomed at the finish line in Worcester by hundreds of young (and older) spectators - an energetic and exhilarating crowd cheering those on who managed to reach the halfway mark of this year’s eight stage event. Schools in the area decided that learners would not have to attend classes on the day, and instead provided one of the most hospitable and exciting crowds on the route thus far.

Leaving Ceres for the last time, riders faced a short climb up Mitchell’s Pass, which was followed by a fast downhill section on tar, before turning off into the winelands past Waverly Hills Farm and Mountain Ridge. Then came a long zig-zagging section of rustic dual and singletrack up and down the foothills of the mountains, before the cyclists finally climbed up onto the saddle. After another descent and climb to the next saddle ahead, riders were rewarded with spectacular views into the Breede River Valley. Even when they had home in their sights, there was still a rough 2km Boesmanberg climb to scale before they finally reached their destination.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Riders almost ready to say goodbye to Ceres

For Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic riders experienced fast open roads taking the field to a short section of smooth, flowing singletrack. Riders were relieved to reach water point 1 after a leg-trashing 3km climb out of the Ceres bowl and up onto a plateau. A rough dual track then headed through some rare fynbos. Riders needed to stay alert on the challenging downhill section. Almost half of the day’s climbing was done within the first 40km. After traversing the farmlands past a very inviting dam, riders hugged the foothills of Matroosberg. More descending took them back down into the Ceres bowl, the first section was on tar, but the next was technical. The last climb of the stage was short but very steep and loose, forcing riders to walk. The profile appeared fairly flat from there on. The sandy patches and devil thorns on the last 15km almost broke the participants’ spirits.

It will be the last night that Absa Cape Epic participants will be staying in Ceres before heading off to Worcester during Stage 4 (for two stages). Worcester is tucked away in the magnificent Brandwacht and Langeberg mountains with the Breede and Hex Rivers flowing either side of it, complimented by vineyards and luscious green valleys. Worcester is the most central point of the Cape Winelands District as well as the focal and economic hub of the Breede Valley. Situated on the main route between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, Worcester forms part of the Cape Route 62, the longest wine route in the world and offers visitors beautiful sceneries, award winning wines and great adventure. Its location is just an hour’s drive from Cape Town, Hermanus, Ceres, Tulbagh, Robertson and Stellenbosch and serves as a well deserved stopover for the traveller to experience true hospitality, friendliness and excellent cuisine.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Torq Skills Coaching Days

TORQ Skills Coaching Day

Please have a look and get booked in - Matt Runs excellent coaching for Mountain biking

17th April
19th June
17th July
21st August
18th September

and a few cool races noted to :-)

Absa Cape Epic riders in single track paradise

Stage 2 of this year’s Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas was known as the singletrack stage. Riders crossed farmlands, descended rocky scrub and navigated forest paths. The narrow, steep and rocky climbs split the race apart. One of the lead motorbike riders on the race, Martin Glisner, commented after test driving Stage 2’s 60km singletrack the day before that the challenging part of this stage was very rough, and he had to put bandages on his hands as they were hurting so much. “And I’ve got a thick skin as I’m on my motorbike all the time, so I felt really sorry for all the riders who had to face these conditions today. I told them to just take it easy.”
It was a close call for the top teams in this year’s Absa Cape Epic as they battled it out to win the second stage (Stage 2) of this year’s event. Bart Brentjens and Jelmer Pietersma of Trek-Brentjens attained their dream of a stage win in a time of 4:08.06,4 and were closely followed by Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm of the Bulls team (4:08.08,8), with South Africa’s Kevin Evans and Alban Lakata of the MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon team (4:08.10,7) following closely in the first sprint finish of this year’s event.

Team MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon is still in the overall lead by 4 minutes and 23 seconds (overall time - 8:43.53). The German Bulls team are now in second place overall (8:48.16,2), followed by Trek-Brentjens in third position overall (8:52.18,9).

Early on in the race, the Flűckiger brothers’ team of Lukas and Mathias (team Trek World Racing) launched an attack, pushing hard during the singletrack sections in order to build up a lead of up about five minutes. Due to the weather and terrain conditions of the day (including sun in the riders’ eyes and dust) many of the leading riders did not even notice the breakaway. But then Lady Luck had her own ideas on how the events of the day would play out with Lukas encountering a defect on his derailleur, whereafter he had to walk for 2km to the next vantage point to fix it. Unfortunately he didn’t find the matching product among their spare parts, so in the end he had to ride a majority of the stage with a limited range of gears, and had to dig deep to catch up. The Scott-Swisspower MTB-racing team (Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel) then saw the chance to escape and built up a lead of more than three and a half minutes, followed by MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon, Bulls and Trek-Brentjens. Lady Luck was not on their side either as they had a flat tyre and had to change their wheel at water point 3. As the spare wheel did not have enough air, they had to pump the tyre and lost a lot of time. Shortly after on a tar section of the stage, they had yet another flat. The three chasing teams passed them, with MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon and Trek-Brentjens realising they were fighting for a stage win (as some spectators already alerted them to the fact that the Flűckiger brothers were out). However, the Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm were not aware of this, thinking that they were fighting for second place. With Jelmer Pietersma (Trek-Brentjens) in front he tried to build up a gap on the last 100 metres before the finish line, confident that Brentjens would be able to outsprint the others to secure a stage win. The Bulls team never attacked as they were blissfully unaware that the stage win was up for grabs, only realising it when they arrived at the finish line.

Says Jelmer Pietersma of the Trek-Brentjens team: “We were initially behind, but managed to catch up with the leading riders. We’re not very good on the climbs, but caught up on the descents. Schurter and Vogel as well as the Flückiger brothers were a few minutes in the lead, but at the second water point we heard the Flückigers had some problems – I believe they broke a chain – and at this point we realised we were riding for victory. Both Bart and I felt quite strong today and when we only had a few hundred meters to go, we knew we could win.” Commenting on his strong sprinting abilities, Brentjens said that if he can see the finish line, he can beat most riders. “Today was really great with lots of single-track, but fast and small climbs all the way,” adds Brentjens. “The Flückiger brothers were unlucky as was Schurter and Vogel.
This year’s race has some really strong contenders. As it is, the Absa Cape Epic is a hard race and very different to any other events – one needs to use a different race tactic. It’s push, push, push all the way – and today’s stage was hard as you had to concentrate all the time and stay focussed. There were also some annoying sandy sections towards the end.” With regards to the possibility of winning another stage, Brentjens commented: “The stages count together, and one gets more tired as the race goes along. At least today we finished early and can take some time to relax.”

According to Bulls Team rider, Stefan Sahm, he felt better during this stage than yesterday. “Today was okay. The climbs and flat sections were better and there was some nice singletrack. In a way we were unlucky today as we thought the Flückiger brothers were ahead of us and didn’t realise we were fighting for first place. If we knew, we definitely would’ve pushed more. But hey, Karl always gets stronger towards the end; we have a lot of patience and can wait.” Adds Platt: “Today was a nice stage with lots of awesome singletrack. At the beginning of the stage, the sun shone right into our faces which made it a bit tricky as you couldn’t see the stones, only dust. We’re feeling really strong and although we finished in second place, we’ll take the jersey in the end.”

Alban Lakata, of the MTN Qhubeka Topeak Ergon team, and still in the lead overall says: “Unfortunately we had some bad luck at the beginning as we had a puncture. I damaged my rear wheel and had to change it, but managed to catch up with the leading group. The Flückiger brothers attacked in one of the singletrack sections but also had some bad luck, as did the Bulls Team. The other Bulls team helped them out with a front wheel, as did our second team by assisting us when I had a puncture. It’s really good to be able to get support from your team mates. It was a tough day and also very hot. The Absa Cape Epic is always a hard race as you have to look where you’re riding and your nutrition is really important.”

The Songo-Specialized by DCM team of Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander finished in 14th place today (4:23.43,3) and they are in ninth place overall (9:03.00,3). Stander felt sick during stage one, and hardly slept the night before stage two, suffering from severe stomach problems.