Riding as Hansgrohe-CadenceNutrition OMX, Annie Last and Mariske Strauss got OMX racing underway with a storming Prologue ride. They set the fastest women’s pairs time on course at each of the three check points along the twenty-six kilometre course. On a blisteringly hot Cape Town day, Annie and Mariske rode a sensible but strong race, testing their compatibility with good communication and testing their legs with an aggressive final few kilometres. Mariske explains:
“It was a great start. We are happy with how it worked out. The plan was to open the taps slowly and finish strong, and that worked well. We caught the team who went out a minute ahead of us near to the finish and that gave us a real incentive to push hard for the finish. Annie was a machine today and it was really special to share a podium with her.”
After setting the fastest times on course, the Hansgrohe-Cadence Nutrition OMX pairing were topped by just two teams, the hugely experienced Team Ascendis Health of Sabine Spitz and Robyn de Groot, and the Meerendal CBC team of Esther Suss and Jennie Stenerhag. Annie and Mariske finished third and started their Epic week with a brilliant podium, in front of the cheering crowds and the beautiful backdrop of Meerendal Wine Estate. For Annie, it was a great introduction to the race:
“I really enjoyed my first Epic experience! It was a great course and atmosphere. It’s good to get the Prologue in the bag and I’m looking forward to Stage 1 tomorrow.”
The Men’s team of Martin Gluth and Julian Schelb rolled down the start ramp and got their Cape Epic underway just as the Ladies finished their race. The Silverback OMX pairing looked in fine form as they settled into the short but incredibly intense Prologue course. Unfortunately things took a bad turn when the midday heat, which was pushing up to forty degrees centigrade, began to really take its toll on Julian. With his body temperature reaching the outside temperature he passed out on the bike and crashed. Julian was immediately seen by medics who got him off the course on into the on-site medical clinic, from where he was transferred to hospital. Thankfully his temperature was brought under control quickly and we are delighted to say that he is doing okay.
Of course, this means that the Cape Epic is over for Julian. However, Martin will ride on as an ‘Outcast’ and, as a good friend and team mate, will ride for them both over the next week. Our major focus is currently on Julian’s health and we will bring updates throughout the week. It’s a tough sport, but thankfully not as tough as Julian! Dude, you’re a trooper – get well soon!