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2013 Absa Cape Epic: Stage 6

23 Mar 2013

It is Day 7, Stage 6 of the 2013 Absa Cape and as the sky started to lighten this morning we were greeted with a grey and overcast morning, and sights around the Wellington Race Village, that were not too far off looking like a war zone!

You would be hard pressed to find a smiling face as most were gathering and regrouping, preparing to tackle a long and very hilly stage.

The one golden nugget though; the prospect of finishing in Stellenbosch, the neighbouring town to Somerset West where Lourensford is located and most importantly the finish of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic. They will be able to smell the glory of the finish line. 

It has been a brutal Epic. There is no question about that.

The rumours of an easier Epic were quickly dispelled after a monsterous Stage 1, followed by an equally hectic and drawn out Stage 2,  and then onto Tulbagh which offered little reprieve. The early days of the Epic saw many crashes, technical issues and the relentless heat, which took it's toll on many of the riders. 

It was in these stages that the BurryStander-songo team faced their challenges too in a cracked rim on Christoph's back wheel on Stage 1 followed by Jaroslav breaking his chain and the chainbreaker tool on Stage 2, resulting in them having to scratch around for the broken link! The following day they did a sterling job in breaking away and putting a 2 - 3 minute lead on the Bulls 1, only to miss a marker in the final stretch and end up 3rd across the finish line.

Frustrations were mounting but with the look of determination on the faces of this duo as they left Tulbagh on Stage 4, we knew they were out to get this day right. And oh boy did they get it right!

It was certainly one the most outstanding days to date on the 2013 Absa Cape Epic for the pair. It is just sad that the controversy of the missed markers by the Bulls overshadowed the incredible performance of Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulharvy as they moved from being nearly 9 minutes behind the Bulls to systematically, through the 120km course, claiming back minute after minute. It was incredible to watch. It most certainly lives up to the reputation of the champions and the numerous prestigious titles they have both won. 

Stage 5, on the shorter course, they flew from the start line eager to get onto the Welvanpas single tracks early and put as many more minutes as possible into their lead. They dug deep, raced hard and never for a minute let up on the pace. We know it burnt, but they came out victorious. 

Today was no different. They set out with a mission, to gain as much time as possible as to see how to further widen a very narrow gap on the GC. The day was planned. They knew the points they would accelerate and drive the pace. On the hills and on the rocky terrain, taking a few chances on the descents too. The Bulls were right on their wheels all the way through to WaterPoint 2 but as they hit the climb to Helshoogte, and Christoph's home turf, it seemed the Urs Huber was taking strain, and the Bulls 1 fell back. 

Standing and cheering with a very proud and very excited Mrs Stander at Spectator Point B was so special. She is so proud of Christoph and Jaroslav; and it is so special to have the Stander family with Christoph as he races for Burry this year and no longer with him. No doubt  Mrs Stander's strength and courage fuels the Christoph and Jaroslav to continue driving and edging more of a winning advantage. They did that again today and were able to edge a few more minutes into the Bulls 1, widening the gap to 6minutes and 21 seconds.

Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulharvy have race each and every day with sheer power and determination. It has been hard, it has been tough and they have had their moments of bad luck. But they have remained focused and never given up. The perseverance has paid off. We wish them a very succesful last day to Lourensford tomorrow. We are so incredibly proud of these two, their professionalism and how they have raced. There is no doubt that this has been so much harder physically and emotionally for the BurryStander-songo teams but they can be proud of everything they have achieved and know that Burry will be looking down with pride. 

Rest well and ride well. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow in Lourensford.