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Stage 4: Worcester

19 Mar 2015

Sadly, today Azu & Sipho’s bid to defend the Exxaro Jersey ended with Sipho having to pull out at WP1 with severe knee pain. Having started to experience knee pain early on in yesterdays stage Sipho, soldiered on with determination and Azu’s support in a bid to complete the stage and remain in the race. After getting treatment last night from EPT recovery and the Specialized support team, Sipho decided to give Stage 4 a go with the hope that his knee pain would abate but to his great disappointment this was not meant to be and Sipho made the wise but hard decision to withdraw from the race at WP1. Azu will continue tomorrow with the race starting stage 5 wearing the Outcast jersey and joining the growing number of riders to have lost their partners during this grueling race. We wish Azu safe riding as he works his way to Wellington tomorrow, no longer racing now just enjoying the ride.

Start shoot stage 4

Azu & Sip at the start line of Stage 4, not long after the start Sip withdrew due to knee pain. Photo Credit: Kathy Crabbe

For Susi & Jaro, today was more of a “rest day” although the stage started out with a tough pace up the first climb. This pace was pushed by the local Scott team of Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes and followed by Hynek & Lakata (Topek Ergon) but once Hynek had dropped off the pace, Jaro & Susi decided to reserve their energy and focus on staying with Topeak in order to defend their overall lead and yellow leaders Jersey.  

 Susi powering up the climb

Beautiful scenery surround Susi & Jaro as they power up the climb. Photo Credit: Michael Cerveny

Today was more about (maintaining) our overall position than chasing the Scott team,” Jaro said after the race. “We are motivated for a victory and used today as a recovery.”

Preparing for the podium

Jaro & Susi in the winners marque preparing for the podium ceremony. Photo Credit:Michael Cerveny.

“Except for the beginning, it was an easy day – a rest day. It feels like another set point,” Christoph agreed. “With 3 days left of racing we are focused on defending the yellow jersey. Tomorrow is going to be a hard day, especially towards the end”. 

Yellow jersey focus

 Yellow jersey focus! Photo Credit: Kathy Crabbe

Tomorrow sees the rider’s work their way towards the town of Wellington covering 117km and 2500m climbing as they weave their way through the Wolsley Valley before climbing up over Bain’s Kloof Pass where the pace is anticipated to be fierce. Following the smooth tar climb the riders will not be able to relax as they head off road onto the new black route trail of Welvanpas that sees them gaining over 300m in 3kms. Their efforts will be rewarded as they finish the day’s stage with arguably some of the country’s best trails, which should have coaxed a smile back onto the rider’s faces before they cross the finish line.

The beautiful scenery of Worcester race village.

The beautiful sunset of in the Worcester race village, tomorrow we head to Wellington. Photo Credit: Kathy Crabbe.