Cape Epic Stage 6
A stunning stage win for Annie Last and Mariske Strauss on the Queen Stage of the 2017 Cape Epic.
The Hansgrohe – Cadence Nutrition pair set out more to defend their third place in General Classification than to push for a stage result, however they took their opportunity when it presented itself. Having lost her legs yesterday, Mariske was back firing on all cylinders today, and the smile was bigger than ever!
“What an amazing day! Today the plan was actually just to stick with Team Spur and not lose any more time in the overall. We stuck with the front teams up to Groenlandberg, after which we dropped Spur and then decided to settle into our own rhythm and do our own thing. Then at about 60km we caught up with Team Ascendis and made sure we got into the single track first. We made a gap and then after the next Water Point we heard that Sabine had broken her handlebar. We cracked on and caught Meerendal with 14km to go. I took a gel and we pushed hard to the end. And…WINNERS!!”
It was with a lot – A LOT – of nervous tension that OMX staff gathered at the finish line in beautiful Oak Valley to see the conclusion to the race. With information from out on course that the ladies had moved into second, and then caught up to first, it was anxious times to see if they would swing round the corner to the finish line in first or second position. For twelve kilometres it looked as though it would be a sprint for the line, but as the race closed in on Oak Valley, daylight was beginning to appear between the two teams. Whilst the OMX ladies looked strong and consistent, there was some signs of fatigue from Meerendal. That said, the Meerendal CBC team of Esther Suss and Jennie Stenerhag are strong and experienced Cape Epic campaigners and nothing could begin to be certain until the final kilometre when the fast single tracks finally snapped the elastic for Meerendal and Annie and Mariske pulled convincingly clear.
It was a very special moment as Hansgrohe – Cadence Nutrition took the stage victory, with the whole Cape Epic team there to welcome them in and celebrate. There were a lot of big grins, hugs, and even a surreptitious tear or two!
Annie, in her first Cape Epic, is absolutely loving the experience, and is delighted with a stage win.
“I’m really happy! We lost touch to the first two teams – Meerendal and Ascendis – on the Groenlandberg climb but we paced it really well all the way. The trails and climbs were good today and it’s amazing to get the stage win. Perfect all round!”
With their win today, and the bad luck of Team Ascenis, Hansgrohe – Cadence Nutrition move into second place on General Classification with a twelve minute advantage to third. The Finale is coming up tomorrow – Annie and Mariske will once again balance a defence of their overall position with the opportunity to take stage honours. Don’t miss it, live on cape-epic.com.
Martin Gluth finished another solid day of racing as an Outcast, and waited at the finish to welcome his winning team mates home.
We are incredibly proud of Annie and Mariske for today’s result. It comes not only from strong legs, but from clever and determined minds, and pure passion. It was one of those days that the team will never forget!
What a moment, what a ride!