Cape Epic stage 6: Blevins and Beers inch closer to overall lead
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Nino Schurter and Andri Frischknecht (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing) moved back into the overall lead after finishing second on the stage and sit only 90 seconds ahead of Beers and Blevins. After one day in the yellow jerseys, Lukas Baum and Georg Egger (ORBEA x Leatt x Speed Company) moved to third overall, five-and-a-half minutes off the lead.
Kim le Court and Vera Looser (Efficient Infiniti Insure) claimed a hat-trick of stage wins after winning stage 6, riding into the orange leader jerseys in the process. Former leaders Amy Wakefield and Candice Lill (e-FORT. net | SeattleCoffeeCo) finished fourth on stage 6, losing more than 30 minutes to the new category leaders.
Sofia Gomez Villafañe and Katerina Nash (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) were second on the day and remain in third overall, 27 minutes behind Le Court and Looser.
Both the men’s and women’s races were heavily impacted by mechanical issues for the leading teams on a day of racing that many riders called one of the toughest ever. Rain fell throughout the 73km stage, turning climbs into sticky streams of clay and singletrack descents into treacherous mud baths.
Around 33km into the race, Wakefield broke the rim on her back wheel after hitting a hole and was forced to ride 8km to the next tech zone without a rear tire. Up until that point, Wakefield, Lill, Looser and Le Court were riding together comfortably.
“I went through the same ditch as Amy,” Le Court said. “I was just lucky. It’s probably my hardest day on a bike. I just tried to keep safe the whole ride, but I still almost fell a few times. I think the tears might just be the mud coming out of my eyes, but I don’t know.”
After the mechanical, Wakefield and Lill dropped further behind, eventually finishing 39 minutes after stage winners Looser and Le Court. The new orange leader jersey wearers will start the final stage with a 25-minute lead over Wakefield and Lill.
With a sizeable lead going into the 80km Stage 7, Looser and Le Court are taking nothing for granted. “It’s still a long 80km,” Looser said. “I won’t get too excited until we cross that finish line,” added Le Court.
In the Men’s race, ORBEA x Leatt x Speed Company also suffered from a mechanical issue around 40km into the stage, causing them to drop off the lead bunch.
Before their mishap, Baum and Egger had been riding at the front with Blevins and Beers. Those four riders had taken control when Nino Schurter had to drop back to assist Andri Frischknecht.
Nevertheless, Frischknecht and Schurter were able to rebound and race home for second.
Blevins and Beers were in control throughout the day. Blevins said he started the day by waking up early to watch the LA Lakers play. The Lakers won, and Blevins said at the start that it must be a good omen. That turned out to be the case as he and Beers dominated the day, looking strong even before Baum and Egger were forced to stop for repairs.
“We did see Lukas and Georg stop,” Blevins said. “We heard something but we weren’t entirely sure what happened so we just kept our heads down and carried on racing. That’s just the Absa Cape Epic, though, anything can happen, especially in the conditions we had today.”
“It was just brutal out there. We had the right tires on but it’s so difficult to race in those conditions. It was so muddy and going down the singletrack was incredibly slow.”
1. Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne: Matthew Beers, Christopher Blevins – 03:26:48.9
2. SCOTT-SRAM MTB-Racing: Nino Schurter, Andri Frischknecht – 03:30:56.2 (+00:04:07.2)
3. Bulls Mavericks: Alban Lakata, Axel Roudil-Cortinat – 03:33:46.7 (+00:06:57.7)
CM.com Women’s category:
1. Efficient Infiniti Insure: Kim le Court, Vera Looser – 04:30:02.9
2. NinetyOne-songo-Specialized: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Katerina Nash – 04:43:00.7 (+00:12:57.8)
3. Cannondale Vas Arabay: Greete Steinburg, Monica Yuliana Calderon Martinez – 04:46:00.2 (+00:15:57.3)
1. SCOTT-SRAM MTB-Racing: Nino Schurter, Andri Frischknecht – 23:07:54.8
2. Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne: Matthew Beers, Christopher Blevins – 23:09:27.2 (+00:01:32.4)
3. Orbea X Leatt X Speed Company Racing: Georg Egger, Lukas Baum – 23:13:27.0 (+00:05:32.2)
CM.com Women’s category:
1. Efficient Infiniti Insure: Kim le Court, Vera Looser – 29:08:28.7
2. e-FORT. net | SeattleCoffeeCo.: Amy Wakefield, Candice Lill – 29:33:41.4 (+00:25:12.7)
3. NinetyOne-songo-Specialized: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Katerina Nash – 29:35:48.7 (+00:27:20.0)