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Wrap up of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic

17 Apr 2013

Nothing could prepare the BurryStander-SONGO team for what they were to experience on the 2013 Absa Cape Epic. No matter how hard we focused, this year was brutal beyond measure. Not only for the conquering of the toughest mountain bike race out there but also for the personal journey to ride ride for a friend, teammate and partner who has been so integral to the race and the foundation of

From the start of the race, as our riders Christoph Sauser and Jarslav Kulharvy, emerged at the Meerendal Prologue in Burry Stander's South African kit, there was no doubt a lump in our throats. We did not have our teammate but our hearts and prayers were with him and we were riding for him.

The race was bumpy and we had our trials and tribulations. Not unlike the trials and tribulations of Burry and Christoph's journey through the Absa Cape Epic. Day 1 Christoph cracked his rim and had to rely on teammate Max Knox to give him his wheel. They rode hard and managed to make back good time. Day 2 Jaroslav broke his chain and the tool and ended up having to search for the broken chainlink on the track to fix it. This mechanical put a dent in time between them and the  leaders and once again the guys had to ride hard to make back as much time as possible.  Day 3 our team was determined as ever that they were claimed back much needed minutes but racing fast, hard and under pressure, they missed a turn and ended up losing time again instead of claiming back time. To say that morale was low and the team was  feeling the strain is an understatement of note. But for the supporters and teammates, we never ever doubted our riders - we knew and could clearly see they had what was needed to claim back the leaders jersey. 

On Day 4, we were grateful for the public holiday and the chance to bring in additional songo support. We loaded 2 taxi's full of songo children and young adults who were so eager to come out and support their hero's. The day could not have worked out better. We got to the waterpoint and secured a prime position. We were being fed race updates electronically and knew the guys had broken away and were claiming back lost minutes. The gap was growing steadily, 2minutes, 3minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes, excitement was building. Our boys were the first to spot the BurryStander-songo riders in the distance and started cheering madly. We were shouting like crazy as they made their way through the waterpoint. We continued to track them and almost with each minute, it felt like they clawed back another minute! It was phenomenal. Our guys dedicated their stage win to Burry and were extremely pleased to have Burry's mom and nephew, Logan, there to share in the day's excitement. Day 4 saw Cherise and Duane Stander have a outstanding day of racing, coming in 2nd in the mixed teams. Burry was no doubt with his riders. 

From then onwards, and following a dispute around missed turns, it was heads down and just focus on showing the form of the BurryStander-songo team and edging in any minutes they could into the lead whether it was on a shorter stage around Wellington single-tracks on a longer stage heading to Christoph's home town - well home away from home - Stellenbosch! They claimed yet another stage victory in Stellenbosch and then with only 1 day to go to the finish in Lourensford, home and the overall win was looking good.

The last day proved a little more precarious than expected with a few tumbles on the last few kilometers home. Never-the-less we were all waiting excitedly at the finish.

It was an incredible race. It was tough and grueling, it was emotional and heart-breaking. But our 2 teams of Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy supported by Max Knox and Kohei Yamamoto rode with the hearts and souls and all the strength and might that they could for their friend, Burry Stander. 

We are so proud of them as we had a small glimpse at how tough this was and how amidst everything they could still bring home the victory for Burry, for songo and for themselves.

Huge congratulations! Burry, this one was for you! 

You Tube Video from the last day: