The Absa Cape Epic is not timed on a stop watch, rather on a calendar. With the champions being decided after eight gruelling days of racing. Every minute counts, however and the teams battled it out for those minutes today.
The 2017 edition kicked off on Sunday, 19 March with the now-traditional Prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate, outside Cape Town, and was a fierce 26km with some 750m of climbing in hot and dusty conditions.
Team Spur went out hard with an eye on a stage podium, rolling down the start chute last in the Women’s category – the privilege of the defending champion.
However, a solid effort, driven by Adelheid up the first climb saw them having to settle for fourth place, some 2 minutes 18 seconds behind Robyn de Groot and Sabine Spitz (Ascendis Health), Esther Süss and Jennie Stenerhag (Meerendal CBC) and Mariska Strauss and Annie Last (Hansgrohe-Cadence OMX).
“It’s definitely not what we were aiming for,” says Ariane. “We were pretty disappointed to not be on the podium, but we did all we could out there.”
According to Ariane, the team knew this was going to be a very competitive Cape Epic, and although the first day may not have gone completely to plan it is all to play for in the next few days and they are confident of cutting down the deficit.
“We are working well as a team and we’re excited about the next few stages,” she said, before adding, “I believe we have to race smart and consistent and play our cards well when we can.”
The racing proper starts today (Monday, 20 March), with a 101km stage in the beautiful mountains surrounding Hermanus – the first time the race has returned to the coastal town since 2008. The route will see some 2300m of vertical gain and take in the Rotary Way and Nine One One climbs, as well as the iconic Haarkappers Roete.