‘I can’t believe I’ve won the Epic’
NINO Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann claimed the men’s title in the Cape Epic after taking third on the final stage which finished at Val de Vie yesterday.
Scott-Sram Young Guns’ Michiel van der Heijden and Andri Frischknecht took their second stage win in 2:57:14 with Trek-Selle San Marco 2’s Damiano Ferraro and Fabian Rabensteiner in second.
Going into this race the Scott-Sram MTB Racing pair said that their aim was to gather experience together and go for the win in 2018, however the win came a year earlier for the team, who claimed an overall time of 26:35:06.
“I’m really happy. We were so lucky we got through without any mechanicals. We had the strongest back up team and all this together made it that we are successful and it’s amazing to win this race,” said Schurter. “I can’t believe I have won the Cape Epic in my first race; it’s very special,” said Stirnemann.
“But I think it will only sink in tonight or maybe tomorrow. Today the plan was just to get to the finish. We didn’t want to do anything stupid.
“It was quite emotional for me, because anything can happen and at the beginning we thought Christoph and Jaroslav would attack, so we just wanted to stay with him. But then right after the start we noticed that Christoph wasn’t doing so well; then I started to relax and we just rode sensibly so that there were no punctures or crashes.”
Asked if they would be coming back next year, they said that it is a bit early and having won it already they did not know if they would defend it. “I really like this race. It’s so cool to race in a team and it’s a really great event,” said Schurter.
Asked what the Cape Epic stage win meant for Van der Heijden he said: “It’s such a big event and such a great experience and then to win two stages in the first time we competing and even winning the overall with the team – that’s something we didn’t dream of last week but we made it happen this week,” said Van der Heijden.
Investec- Songo- Specialized’s Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy claimed second overall eight seconds behind, while Centurion Vaude 2’s Nicola Rohrbach and Daniel Geismayr came 19 second behind the leaders. Pyga Euro Steel’s Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes took the African Jersey for the 2017 race.
“We were looking for a stage win and we made the pace hard from the beginning,” said Buys. “We had the Scott guys with us and they had the yellow jersey but they weren’t backing off. The last 5km we struggled a bit but we’re super glad to take the African Jersey and I think we got a good position overall.”
In the women’s race Meerendal CBC’s Esther Suss and Jennie Stenerhag were crowned the 2017 champions and finished third on the stage with an overall time of 31:39:43. – ANA