Sunday, 18 March 2018
Short and oh-so-very sharp. From the imposing buildings of the University of Cape Town riders will be sent up the most vicious climbs of one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. Some may be left wondering about their legs after the first climb that has been given a name we dare not print in public, just 100m long with sections ramping up to unforgiving, steep gradients. Table Mountain has one last punch for the riders, up to Dead Man’s Tree, before they find the masses of spectators who will cheer them on as they head on the loop back to the finish. One last challenge awaits, the eye-wateringly quick descent of Plum Pudding, the Land Rover Technical Terrain section.
The high-revving, red-line, flat-out rush of the Prologue leans towards the explosive power of World Champion Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann of Scott-Sram, but the lure of the glory of winning on the iconic Table Mountain is strong. Cannondale Factory Racing’s Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini were popular winners last year when they blew away the rest of the field in the Prologue, winning by over a minute to lay down a marker and show their win in the Grand Finale in 2016 was no one-off. Jaroslav Kulhavy and the young American, Howard Grotts (Investec Songo Specialized ) make up a formidable team.
Three-time winner Annika Langvad won on Table Mountain with Ariane Lüthi in 2015 by three-and-a-half minutes. The Dane returns with young American, Kate Courtney, regarded as mountain biking’s next superstar and the Investec Songo Specialized 2 pair could excel up to Dead Man’s Tree and the white-knuckle descent of Plum Pudding. Robyn de Groot won the Prologue in 2017 and 2016, and finished second in 2015. She will be looking to give South Africans a reason to cheer on the first day with returning partner, Sabine Spitz.
These are most picked teams per category for the stage. Click on the team name to show detail.
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