Strong performances from both Novus OMX Pro Teams during a long, tough and rainy stage in Oak Valley.
Martin Gujan and Fabian Giger had the honour of being called last to this morning’s gridding for Stage one of the Cape Epic. As leader’s of the race, the Novus OMX Pro Team pair were the centre of attention as they rolled onto the start line.
By his own admittance, 5am starts aren’t Fabian’s strong point. However, climbing is his forte and with the highest point of the entire race – Groenlandberg – coming up early in today’s stage, he was in good spirits. Martin too was hiding the nerves well, although they were evidently there for both riders as they readied to defend their leader’s jerseys.
Martin and Fabian rode in the lead group alongside the top teams for much of the 113km stage, sometimes slipping back but able to then latch back on. The pressure being applied by the Bulls and Songo Ivestec teams was, however, eventually too much for the boys to match. At the third water point and tech zone the Novus OMX pair were in fifth place and four minutes adrift of the leaders. All things considered, they were looking good!
Unfortunately the last fifteen kilometres were fifteen kilometres too far to keep the pair from losing time. The energy ran low and the time gap crept up. That said, Martin and Fabian retained their fifth place which is more than respectable against such a talented field of marathon and stage race experts.
The boys are happy with the result and their carefully balanced full-gas but risk-averse strategy. It’s hard to be fast and sensible, passionate by reserved, but these boys are managing the task admirably.
The Zebra jersey is gone but the determination and excitement for the race certainly hasn’t. Let’s see what tomorrow’s stage will bring!
With their top ten finish in the prologue, the Novus OMX Pro Team duo of Mariske Strauss and Cherie Vale were gridded well and rolled out of the arena with the sharp end of the race.Despite a 7km neutralised zone, the girls really had to fight to hold their position, jostling with the surrounding riders and narrowly avoiding one of two quite major crashes.
As the race proper got underway and the field spread out the girls could relax into a rhythm. Unfortunately this was broken by witnessing a fellow racer in serious need of medical help. Feeling unable to pass-by, Mariske nobly put her first aid skills to use before help was found and the girls once again pressed on.
Luckily the good rhythm returned and Mariske and Cherie could pick their way back up the field of riders. Lady luck did not stay long enough to save Cherie from a flat tyre, however. With all the drama of the stage so far, panic set in and caused what was potentially a quick-fix to become fumbled.
Time was lost, and so was some of the positive energy of the pair, but the girls pushed on and pulled through.
Even after the two lengthy stops the girls finished in tenth place, tired but still with smiles on their faces!
Bring on tomorrow!