The final stage, 92km from Wellington to Meerendal, brought relief and gratification that a long, hard challenge was completed, and successfully so.
Martin and Fabian finished off the Absa Cape Epic how they started it: on the podium! Following a difficult day on Stage 6, when Martin’s physical and mental limits were pushed dangerously close to breaking point, the boys bounced back in fine style.
The stage was relatively flat and fast to start so the boys tucked in on the wheels and waited. Centurian Vaude and Multivan Merida attacked on the first climb and made a small gap on the chase group which contained Fabian and Martin. With a long stretch before the final climb, the boys were happy to stay in the group and conserve energy. The legs were good and the motivation was high, they just had to choose the right time to attack.
The final climb, before the singletrack descent into Meerendal, was the perfect opportunity. Knowing that the Investec Songo Specialized and Topeak Ergon teams were playing it safe to secure their overall victory and second place respectively, the boys drove the pace up the steep, loose climb in order to drop into the final descent in front. If they could create a small gap and then use their technical skills to secure it as they descended to the finish, third place would be theirs.
The plan worked perfectly. It was an amazing comeback and wonderful way to finish the Cape Epic.
What a pair, what a journey!
The Novus OMX Pro Team girls also had a strong final stage, although the efforts of the previous day’s podium ride on top of a week of racing meant that the final finish line was an specially welcome sight!
Despite heavy legs and tired heads, Mariske and Cherie pushed all the way to Meerendal to secure sixth on the stage and take sixth overall.
Each day this pair have danced on the start line and smiled at the finish! Their partnership has been immensely strong and has no doubt helped them through the Cape Epic.
A stage podium and sixth place in general classification has exceeded expectation. Not only that, the friendly nature of these girls has won them many fans and friendships along the way.
Now for some well-earned rest, and then onwards and upwards into the XCO season.