April 25, 2006 – Stage 3 saw the tightest sprint finish in the history of The Cape Epic. In fact it was so tight that the race commissars had to analyze the television footage in order to determine the stage podium positions. Since the Absa Cape Epic is a team race, the time of the second rider in a team crossing the finish line is the time that determines the team’s performance. With a bunch of 20 riders sprinting down the finish chute and crossing the timing mats simultaneously it can get quite complex and the time keepers have to reconstruct the exact order of the finish line crossing to get accurate results. Today’s 122 kilometre long stage also saw some new faces on the podium. Karl Platt (GER) and Carsten Bresser (GER) celebrated their first stage win. Rocky Mountain was the first team to cross the time mats, followed by team Texner-Stoeckli with Sandro Spaeth (SUI) and Thomas Zahnd (SUI) and team adidas Raleigh with Mannie Heymans (NAM) and Kevin Evans (RSA). With wide gravel roads, rolling hills and ‘just’ 1800 metres of climbing the third stage of the Epic was fairly easy and more of a ‘road race’ in comparison to the two previous stages. It was fast and tactical and ensured the top pro riders all worked and rode together, changing pace and pushing each other on. All top teams defended their leader jerseys.
“Today we started more relaxed and took an easy pace”, commented Karl Platt. “We were all riding in a big group. In fact we were going so slow that the group became bigger and bigger and we were joined by more and more amateur riders. That’s when we started to get a little bit nervous, because many of these guys are excellent mountain bikers but they don’t know how to move in a bunch. And that can actually be quite unfavourable. After all you don’t want to end a race because of a silly move resulting in a crash.” All top riders thought the same, thus they hit the gas in one of the climbs to get rid of the ‘dead weight’. “Not too long ago I was doing the same”, remembered Kevin Evans. “I was one of the amateurs who got excited if I could catch up with a top group. But I learned quickly that you must not ride all the way to the front if a few minutes later you get in the way and cannot keep up with the pace. You slow the others down, the riding is not consistent and doesn’t run smooth and it is also mentally frustrating if five or six guys have to do all the work and are dragging others along.”
On the last few kilometres of the race which resembled a road criterion, Karl and Carsten benefited from years of experience in city criterions knowing tactical skirmish by heart. Carsten opened the sprint followed immediately by the rest of the bunch. Karl stayed behind to use the focus on Carsten for a surprise attack; when they least expected it, he came sweeping past to cross the finish line in first place, followed by Christian Heule (SUI) and team mate Carsten to secure the stage win.
Riversdale welcomed the Epic riders with warm weather, blue skies and a festive atmosphere with hundreds of school children lining the finish chute to spur the riders on. For the third time, Langenhoven High School hosted The Cape Epic, once again making it a memorable stage enjoyed by the riders and the supporters.
Since the inaugural year, Langenhoven High School has created a project day for The Cape Epic; children can put into practice what they have learned in theory, for instance in home economics. Chrystal Ellis, a grade 11 student at Langenhoven High commented: “It’s fun for us, because we see how different countries can get together and work hand in hand.”
To visually express their excitement, the children formed a giant living bicycle image for the TV helicopter flyover. With a school programme initiative launched by The Cape Epic and adidas, schools in the stage towns have been encouraged to design large images using the scholars to represent their support for the event. The Cape Epic and adidas are striving to give back to the hosting community and this initiative allows them to do so by providing informative school flyers about the race, water colours pens for drawing various countries’ flags along with a soccer ball dribbling competition at the finish line in which the best player and the best school can win the official adidas Teamgeist matchball of the FIFA world cup 2006.
1. Rocky Mountain Business Object: Carsten Bresser (GER) and Karl Platt (GER) – 04:21:01
2. Team Texner- Stoeckli: Thomas Zahnd (SUI) and Sandro Spaeth (SUI) – 04:21:02
3. adidas Raleigh: Kevin Evans (RSA) and Mannie Heymans (NAM) – 04:21:02
1. adidas Fiat-Rotwild: Sabine Grona (GER) and Kerstin Brachtendorf (GER) – 05:11:53
2. Mountainbike Revue: Elisabeth Hager (AUT) and Sandra Lettner (AUT) – 05:16:57
3. Go Fast Girls: Christina Begy (USA) and Barbara Kreisle (USA) – 05:24:41
1. ABSA Business Banking Services: Linus van Onselen (RSA) and Geddan Ruddock (RSA) – 04:34:53
2. dennis mccann: Ergee du Toit (RSA) and Corrie Muller (RSA) – 04:35:01
3. Giant Willie Engelbrecht: M. C. Franken (RSA) and Bryan Strauss (RSA) – 04:35:02
1. GHOST International: Jorg Scheiderbauer (AUT) and Anna Baylis-Scheiderbauer (AUS) – 04:34:47
2. adidas/ Willie Engelbrecht Cycles/ Bianchi: Anke Erlank (RSA) and Fourie Kotze (RSA) – 04:35:04
3. radys.com: Dolores Maechler (SUI) and Severin Rupp (SUI) – 04:37:00
1. Sauser/Bundi – 13:35:34
2. Heule/Sickmeuler – 13:48:37
3. Bresser /Platt – 13:49:38
1. Grona/ Brachtendorf – 17:53:43
2. Hager/Lettner – 18:25:06
3. Begy/ Kreisle – 20:16:42
1. Van Onselen/ Ruddock – 15:21:56
2. Borne/ Moiroux – 15:52:02
3. Muller/ Du Toit – 15:53:47
1. Scheiderbauer/Baylis-Scheiderbauer – 15:35:01
2. Rupp/ Maechler – 15:53:41
3. Mosterd/ De Villiers – 16:08:24