Drama on Stage 3 Sees Yellow Jerseys Change Hands

It’s not over until it’s over. A disastrous rear-wheel puncture saw Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing concede the Yellow Jerseys to Cannondale Factory Racing on Wednesday, proving once again that the Absa Cape Epic is won only when you cross the finish line at Val de Vie Estate during the Grand Finale.

Fumic Avancini finish Stage 3 Cape Epic 2019.JPG
Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini of Cannondale Factory Racing celebrate winning stage 3 of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Oak Valley Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 20th March 2019. Photo by Shaun Roy/Cape Epic

 

Cannondale Factory Racing put on a tactical clinic for the rest of the field on Wednesday’s brutal 107-kilometre Stage 3 and ended up not only taking the stage win, but also moved firmly into first on the overall GC. Henrique Avancini and Manuel Fumic now have a 2:41 buffer over Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing, with the BULLS Heroes outfit of Urs Huber and Simon Stiebjahn in third, 7:45 adrift.

 

“Today was a special one for us,” was the word from Avancini after the finish. “The approach was to put the guys in the hurt box early and just push a little bit here and there. That’s what we did.”

 

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Henrique Avancini and Manuel Fumic of Cannondale Factory Racing collect their hydration packs during stage 3 of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Oak Valley Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 20th March 2019. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic

 

“We went into the stage wanting to put the Yellow Jersey under pressure,” agreed Fumic. “On the first long climb we were working hard on the front and saw Lars (Forster) was struggling.”

 

“We knew then we had them where we wanted them and we put on a little bit more pressure,” he added.

 

Cannondale Factory Racing forced the pace up the iconic Groenlandberg climb and then let it all hang out further on the treacherous descent. It was not long after that when Lars Forster slashed his rear tyre.

 

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Arno DU TOIT (RSA) of team DSV Pro Cycling assists Nino SCHURTER (SUI) and Lars FORSTER (SUI) of team Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing with a rear wheel during stage 3 of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Oak Valley Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 20th March 2019. Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic

 

Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing, under the ice cool leadership of Nino Schurter, stayed calm as they worked to repair the tyre while the field streamed past. However, they could not make the repair and were forced to descend on the rim toward the Houw Hoek Hotel water point at 60km. Their back-up team (DSV-SCOTT-SRAM) eventually caught them and gave them a wheel, but by then they had already lost a staggering nine minutes.

 

Cannondale Factory Racing picked up their hydration vests at the Houw Hoek Hotel water point and forged ahead. According to Fumic they didn’t attack or get overeager, instead opting to ride at a steady pace out front. “There are still a few days to go so we tried to stay relaxed and consistent,” he said.

 

Schurter Forster Stage 3 Cape Epic 2019.JPG
Nino SCHURTER (SUI) and Lars FORSTER (SUI) of team Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing during stage 3 of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Oak Valley Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 20th March 2019. Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic

 

Schurter and Forster put in a phenomenal effort over the last 40-kilometres to limit their losses, eventually reducing the nine minutes down to 6:45.

 

BULLS Heroes (Urs Huber and Simon Stiebjahn) finished the day in second while Damiano Ferraro and Samuele Porro of Trek Selle San Marco went one better than on Stage 2 to finish on the podium.

 

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Urs Huber and Simon Stiebjahn of Bulls Heroes get 2nd place during stage 3 of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Oak Valley Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 20th March 2019. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic

 

Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing were not alone in their misery during the brutal stage, however. Stage 2 runner’s up KROSS-SPUR suffered a severe mechanical after taking the Dimension Data hotspot on the top of Nuweberg. They eventually limped home way down the field but live to fight for stage honours once again.

 

Matt Beers of SpecializedFoundationNAD crashed hard, buckling his wheel. “He hit a sharp rock which rolled his front wheel and put him on his side,” said partner Alan Hatherly. “I actually thought we were done after that, but he picked himself up and we chased back to the group,” he said.

 

“Obviously after that our main concern was the Absa African Men's Jersey, once we had reeled in IMBUKO GIANT we actually moved through the field. So we’re happy with that.”

 

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Alan Hatherly and Matt Beers of Specialized Foundation NAD during stage 3 of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Oak Valley Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 20th March 2019. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic

 

SpecializedFoundationNAD had the good fortune of being able to take a wheel from Jaroslav Kulhavy after Beers’ crash. Kulhavy was completing the stage solo because his Investec-songo-Specialized partner, Sam Gaze, abandoned the race a few kilometres from the start after he did not recover sufficiently from his Stage 1 crash.

 

No doubt SpecializedFoundationNAD will be targeting Thursday’s 43km time trial. They will have their work cut out for them however with some of the other XCO specialists also targeting the time trial stage honours.

 

Schurter Forster Finish Stage 3 Cape Epic 2019.JPG
Nino Schurter of Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing reacts after finishing in fourth place on a tough stage 3 where he and partner Lars Forster lose the overall leaders jersey during stage 3 of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Oak Valley Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 20th March 2019. Photo by Shaun Roy/Cape Epic

 




4 Comments

BaGearA, Mar 20 2019 08:07

*Camelbak stock shows 15% increase 

Titleist, Mar 20 2019 08:41

*Camelbak stock shows 15% increase 

 

Was thinking the same thing. I guess it does not look "cool" to have a hideous bag on your back but in my books safety and speed > coolness on a photo. The majority of cyclists will see the light some day. 

intern, Mar 20 2019 10:31

Was thinking the same thing. I guess it does not look "cool" to have a hideous bag on your back but in my books safety and speed > coolness on a photo. The majority of cyclists will see the light some day. 

Yeh bro you do what works for you, I'll do what works for me. Those Salomon vests, by the way, are pretty good for long distance, too. But you don't need to try convince 'the majority of cyclists' to do what you smaak, ekse.

splat, Mar 21 2019 04:09

Not a brand I have heard of before:

 

https://www.uswe-spo...run/outlander-2

 

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