Thursday, 22 March 2018
The Queen Stage. The Tough Stage. One Stage to Conquer Them All. This will include two of the toughest climbs of the 15th Absa Cape Epic and the terrain will leave riders exasperated at times. There will be more singletrack than you could wish for. The testing Rawsonville and Smablaar River trails will prepare riders for one of the iconic sections of the 2018 route: The Slanghoek Valley trails, a throwback to the early days of mountain biking, before trails became smooth and “manicured”. The Slanghoek Traverse is a testing descent, while the Thudbuster is a loose and sandy climb that points to heaven but never seems to leave hell. The 9km of the historic Bain’s Kloof Pass is on tar, but feels like it is never-ending. The last 15km takes in the Welvanpas trails and is, mostly, a downhill roll to Wellington.
Karl Platt believes the 2018 race favours the marathon riders more than 2017. If he is to become the first man to win a sixth Absa Cape Epic title, he and Bulls teammate Urs Huber may need to make the Queen Stage of this year’s race theirs. In 2015, when Stage 4 began in Worcester, the all-South African team of Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) broke away to win the stage and consolidate their lead in the Absa African special jersey competition.
South Africa’s Candice Lill and her German teammate Adelheid Morath (dormakaba) could target this as their day at the race, but the general classi cation race will be in full, red-hot contention on the fifth day, and Annika Langvad and Kate Courtney (Investec Songo Specialized 2), Robyn de Groot and Sabine Spitz (Ascendis Health), Esther Süss and Jennie Stenerhag (Meerendal CBC), and Mariske Strauss and Annie Last (Silverback-BH) will be eyeing Bainskloof Pass as a possible place to make or break the Absa Cape Epic.
These are most picked teams per category for the stage. Click on the team name to show detail.
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