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Stage 5 of the Absa Cape Epic

30 Mar 2012

I am sure that many will agree that the 2012 Absa Cape Epic has been one of the toughest Epics to date not only for the challenges out on the course but also for the challenges that the unpredictable Cape weather has provided the riders. Embracing a cold morning and torrential rain on the back of 2 particularly grueling days with 2 additional particularly rough days preceding those has left riders shattered physically and mentally.

I don't think there is a supporter of the Epic that is not in awe of the incredible strength of the riders as they crossed the finish line today. While we rushed from waterpoint to waterpoint, taking shelter in warm farm restaurants, the riders were out on the course embracing the elements and conquering the course. It was just a like a proper winter's day in the Cape! We are guttered for those who suffered misfortune due to crashes, technical issues and our one friend who was taken off the course with hypothemia.

It's tough to watch the riders cold and suffering going from one challenge to the next and just when we thought (and hoped like crazy) that the rain had passed, it came back with a vengeance. Last night we sat with the riders offering words of encouragement as the 2nd of the exceptionally brutal days was over, little did we know what was in store for them today. 

Up in the front the field seemed scattered where the pro field started riding in a relatively big bunch however as the day and weather unfolded so too did the teams start to scatter. Teams that have been strong contenders throughout the race grappled with the weather conditions and the implications for their bikes. 

We were pleased to see that a very wet and muddy Max Know and Kohei Yamamoto had no technical issues today and showed their fine form powering through the course. Christoph and Burry lead upfront and eventually broke away with the Bulls 2 team and Merida. the final chase to the finish line saw Burry cross first with one of the Bulls 2 team members, followed by Christoph, with team 36ONE-SONGO-SPECIALIZED taking the win and Bulls Team 2 in 2nd position and Merida in 3rd. You just can't help but notice how deep the Merida team seems to dig as they ride what seems like heart and soul each day. I am sure they were very pleased with their third place result, holding on to overall third position. 

We were super pleased to see Max and Kohei come in 6th place bringing them back into the top 10 on the overall Epic leaderboard. They were lying in 5th position until 20km from the end when they needed to replace Kohei's rear break. But the disk pin came lose and they were not able to fix the break so Kohei had to ride the last kilometers through the singletracks with no rear break! He was the legend of the day in the songo-specialized camp!

Sipho and Azukile had a rocking day, showing their true tough skills, finishing 56th in their category and 80th overall. They were unbelievable through all the crazy conditions. Sivuyile struggled with technical problems with his bike so sadly they had a tough and long long day out on the field in those tough conditions. I am sure they will be guttered to have fallen so far back after having done so well for so many days in a row but I have no doubt they will be back in full force tomorrow.

One crazy day is a monster to digest but a third consequtive day of battling mind and body deserves the utmost admiration. I hope like mad that the rain subsides and the sun shines modestly so the riders can enjoy a good day of fun riding through the fine trails of Grabouw tomorrow. 

All the pictures from the day can be found on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/songo.info