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2013 Absa Cape Epic: Day 1

18 Mar 2013

It was a cool start and a stunning morning as the sun rose in the Citrusdal valley this morning. This, however, was no indication of the day that was to come! 

I am not sure I have heard so many war stories on Day 1 of the Epic, even from the Pro's. Dr Evil issued an early shake-up and the field felt it big time. The blistering dry heat in the first half of the day did not help. Everyone suffered.

It was a tough ride for our songo teams as mechanical misfortune set in early on as rock cracked Christoph Sauser's rear wheel. Luckily the support team was close on hand and could switch Max Knox's wheel with Christoph's to all Christoph and Jaroslav to chase down the leader pack. 

At Waterpoint 1 we anxiously awaited our teams. We knew something was up but it was hard to figure it out from the sidelines and snippets of information. Christoph and Jaroslav were 3 minutes behind the leading pack. Kohei Yamamoto and Max Knox were a further 12 minutes behind. We saw Max replacing his back wheel in the tech zone and assumed the problem was with his wheel. Later media reporters filled us in on seeing Christoph changing wheels with Max, the story changed! 

At Spectator Point B, the gap was just over 4 minutes between the leading Merida Multivan and Bulls 1 and 2 Teams. We were anxiously counting the seconds until our team arrived! We saw them relaxed refuel and take on new bottles and on-wards to the next waterpoint. The towering mountains surrounding us reminded of the mammoth climbs facing the riders and the heat for those standing still was blistering to say the least. 

It was undoubtably and exciting day as the supporter crews sped across to Spectator Point C to catch the riders and a final time-check before heading to the finish. It was at this point we started to see inklings of the gap closing. A relaxed Christoph and Jaroslav arrived at the waterpoint to rehydrate and refuel before the last stretch home. They may just as well have taken on rocketfuel, or it was the hint of  home that gave them an extra drive and within 30 minutes the gap had narrowed from 5 minutes at the end of Spectator Point C to a mere 2 minutes! Incredible!

Our riders were able to claw back a further 20 odds seconds to finish 4th 2 minutes and 47 seconds behind the winning Merida Multivan team of Jose Hermida and Rudi von Houts, followed closely by Bulls 1 Team of Karl Platt and Urs Huber and Bulls 2 Thomas Dietche and Tim Boehme. Well done to these team on fantastic riding in tough and sandy conditions. 

There is no doubt that Christoph and Jaroslav powered their way through the day and would not have been able to make up so much time with their mechanical if it had not been for their support team of Max Knox and Kohei Yamamoto. 

We are extremely proud of our Exxaro Riders Azukile Simayile and Sipho Madolo who finished in 5 hours and 53 minutes, putting them in 1st position for the Exxaro Development jersey. Their rivals are hot on the heels, a mere 2 minutes behind them today and 8 minutes over. Keep strong songo boys!

Barti Bucher and Heinz Zoerweg who won the Grand Masters category again today, finishing in a remarkable 5 hours and 31 minutes! We are so proudly associated! 

Thank you to all those riders supporting including James Thompson, who showed us today he can ride a bike as well as he rows; and a loyal supporter, Michael Creedon. Songo Fipaza was looking strong at the end of a long 9 hour day and, as always, still smiling! 

It's a long day tomorrow but we are sure with strength of mind, determination and sheer tenacity, you will all get through. 

Good luck to all!