• Nino Schurter leading partner Matthias Stirnemann during stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. (AAP)Source: AAP
With just one day to go, both the men’s and women’s overall race leaders at the Absa Cape Epic have their hands firmly on the respective crowns after the 103km Queen Stage around Grabouw.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
Absa Cape Epic
26 Mar 2017 - 7:15 AM  UPDATED 26 Mar 2017 - 11:06 AM

Olympic and world mountain bike champion Nino Schurter and his Scott-Sram MTB Racing teammate Matthias Stirnemann were comfortable winners of the stage, beating South Max Knox and Hector Paez (Kansai Plascon) into second.

Schurter and Stirnemann opened up a lead of almost seven minutes in the overall standings ahead of Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Investec-Songo-Specialized), who ended the stage fourth, behind Nicola Rohrbach and Daniel Geismayr (Centurion Vaude 2).

Knox and Paez moved into third overall, deposing the winners of the Prologue and Stage 1, Team Cannondale’s Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini, from the final place on the podium.

Cannondale slipped from third at the start of the stage to fifth overall, also falling behind the Centurion Vaude pair.

“I don’t know what happened today, but it was much less suffering than yesterday. It was a good day on the bike,” Stirnemann said. “Every day I feel like I am getting stronger on the bike. I recovered well last night and that showed this morning when I could get my rhythm a lot quicker.”

NEW STAGE WINNERS FOR THE WOMEN

In the elite women’s race it was a similar story with Esther Suss and Jennie Stenerhag (Team Meerendal CBC) finishing second in the stage, but increasing their overall lead to a massive 35 minutes.

The stage winners on Saturday were Mariske Strauss and Annie Last from Hansgrohe Cadence OMX Pro. Their ride, combined with a crash and broken handlebar to Robyn de Groot and Sabine Spitz (Ascendis Health), means the stage winners inherited second overall and are 12 minutes up on there former second placed pairing.

“It is never nice to hear that someone else has crashed, but when I was so tired it did mean I could slow down a bit because we knew they were not coming back at us,” Stenerhag said.

“But taking nothing for granted, this race is not over until it is over. Nothing is finalised until it is finished.”

Going into the final stage, the Dimension Data Masters category is wide open with Tomi Misser and Ibon Zugasti (Orbea Factory) less than three minutes ahead of both the BMC Absa team of Tour de France Champion Cadel Evans and George Hincapie and the CST Sandd American Eagle pairing of Bart Brentjens and Abraao Azevedo.

In the mixed Category, Olympic champion Jenny Rissveds and Thomas Frischknecht (Scott Sram Nextlevel) won their seventh day in a row, the Prologue and six stages, and are now 54 minutes ahead of Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall (joBerg2c-Valencia), with Johan Labuschagne and Catherine Williamson (RBI Tech-Mitas) 37 minutes further back.