Frey-Stiebjahn and Frei-Stigger win stage 1 of the Cape Epic 2021, leaders hold steady

Mountain bike 18 oct. 2021 13:10 Migue A.

The Absa Cape Epic 2021 came to a stage 1 in which the riders would encounter for the first time the characteristic route of the event, although somewhat short. It was the first time since 2013 that the first stage was under 100km, but it was no walk in the park.

Martin Frey-Simons Stiebjahn win stage 1 of Absa Cape Epic 2021, but Sarrou-Beers retain the lead

In the prologue stage, the Songo Specialized pair of Frenchman Jordan Sarrou and South African Matthew Beers wore the yellow leader's jersey, taking a minute and a half lead over the rest. But if at first we thought it might be a strategy to go out more conservatively on stage 1, we were wrong.

Stage 1 of the Absa Cape Epic 2021 offered a circular route starting and finishing in Ceres, 98 km long and almost 1900 metres of positive elevation gain, which the Sarrou-Beers pair decided to lead from the start. The Specialized pair managed to open a gap of 20 seconds on the hardest climb of the day, between kilometre 40 and 50, and from there the fight was to maintain a lead that threatened the chasing group formed by the powerful pairs Urs Uber-Simon Schneller (Bulls), Andreas Seewald-Martin Stosek (Canyon Northwave MTB) and Martin Frey-Simons Stiebjahn (Bulls 2).

That advantage disappeared in a flash when Mathew Beers began to have problems, apparently mechanical because he kept looking at his bike, after kilometre 65. The Specialized pair was absorbed by all the chasers and a large lead group was formed with the 4 strongest pairs of the day. We could say that the stage was taking a new direction in which anyone could turn the day and the classification around.

The group stayed together until the last kilometres, with some attack attempts by World Champion Andreas Seewald that didn't come to fruition. And it all came down to a massive sprint that started from a long way back and left the pair of Bulls alone at the finish. Urs Uber-Simon Schneller took the stage win but Jordan Sarrou and Matthew Beers saved the day and maintain the lead thanks to the advantage of the first day.

The first Spanish pair to finish was again the BUFF SCOTT team formed by Enrique Morcillo and José María Sánchez, who came in 8th place, 05:54 minutes behind the first pair. This keeps them in eighth place overall.

Results Stage 1 Absa Cape Epic 2021 - Men

  1. BULLS Urs HUBER (#1-1) Simon SCHNELLER (#1-2) 03:57:35.2
  2. BULLS 2 - Martin FREY (#5-1) Simon STIEBJAHN (#5-2) 3:57:37.4 +00:00:02.2
  3. Canyon Northwave MTB  Andreas SEEWALD (#4-1) Martin STOŠEK (#4-2) 03:57:38.3 +00:00:03.1
  4. NinetyOne-songo-Specialized - Jordan SARROU (#3-1) Matthew BEERS (#3-2) 03:57:40.9 +00:00:05.7
  5. Buff Scott MTB - Hans Becking (#6-1) José Dias (#6-2) 04:00:51.1 +00:03:15.9

Sina Frei and Laura Stigger dominate in stage 1

In the women's race, the doubts about Switzerland's Sina Frei and Austria's Laura Stigger continued to disappear. After winning the prologue stage, whose short course benefited them, they led again on stage 1. And they did so at a pace that no other female pair was able to keep up with. 

The Specialized pair, Frei-Stigger, set a high pace that put them in the lead from the start and began to open up a gap from the first kilometres. That advantage was already more than a minute and a half by the halfway point of the stage, with respect to the first chasing pair formed by Ariane Luthi and Robyn de Groot (Salusmed). And almost 3 minutes with the Faces CST pair of Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss. It seemed that only a problem for the Specialized riders could turn the stage around.

Nothing stopped them. Sina Frei and Laura Stigger reached the finish line first, almost 5 minutes ahead of the second placed riders. This consolidates their lead and leaves the Songo-Specialized pair in a very comfortable position for the following stages.

Results Stage 1 Absa Cape Epic 2021 - Women

  1. Songo-Specialized - Sina FREI (#54-1) Laura STIGGER (#54-2) 04:34:52.6
  2. Salusmed - Ariane LÜTHI (#50-1) Robyn DE GROOT (#50-2) 04:39:43.8 +00:04:51.1
  3. Faces CST Candice - LILL (#51-1) Mariske STRAUSS (#51-2) 04:46:55.4 +00:12:02.7
  4. Computer Mania MTB - Adelheid MORATH (#60-1) Cherie REDECKER (#60-2) 04:49:37.2 +00:14:44.6
  5. Fairtree - Jennie STENERHAG (#52-1) Amy MCDOUGALL (#52-2) 04:49:55.2 +00:15:02.6

Full results and standings.

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