March 27, 2023
Cape Epic: Beers, Blevins and Looser, Le Court take overall victory in 2023
Christopher Blevins and Matt Beers (Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne) had entered the final day of racing at the Cape Epic 90 seconds down on the overall in the men’s category, but the duo from the United States and South Africa turned the tables on Nino Schurter and Andri Frischknecht (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing) on stage 7 with an early attack. In the women's category, on the other hand, it was a matter of holding firm for Vera Looser and Kim le Court (Efficient Infiniti Insure) as the Namibian and Mauritian duo took a second place on the final stage behind Greete Steinburg and Monica Yuliana Calderon Martinez (Cannondale Vas Arabay). That was more than enough to keep Amy Wakefield and Candice Lill (e-FORT.net-SeattleCoffeeCo) at bay in the overall competition.Men's overall victors Blevins and Beers also came second on the final stage, behind 2022 winners Georg Egger and Lukas Baum (ORBEA x Leatt x Speed Company), but the move that counted for the general classification came when they rode away from Schurter and Frischknecht on the early climb out of Lourensford. That was the point where the duo started to build the gap necessary to take the overall win at the 648km South African mountain bike stage race.“We knew from last night that there was only one way to win today, and that was to go for it right from the start,” Blevins said in a race media release. “We train so hard for these races and went through so much this week; it’s very special and satisfying when it all comes together like it did today. Read moreVincenzo Nibali adds last-minute partner for ride at Cape Epic Cape Epic: Duct tape saves stage 1 for new women's leaders Wakefield and Lill Absa Cape Epic: Villafane-Nash and Beers-Blevins duos win prologue “We heard bits and pieces of news from the route, so we knew we were ahead but you never really know. The only answer is to keep going as hard as you can. We suffered out there from start to finish but it’s worth it and such an honour to win the Absa Cape Epic.”The pair started out in the leaders jersey after the prologue but had plunged down the standings the next day after finishing 12th on a windy stage 1, but fought their way back up to the very top of the leader board through the rest of the week.“That was a great win, not just the ride today, but the entire week," said Beers. "We had to come from a really dark place after battling on Stage 1 and I think that just shows how strong our partnership is and how much we believe in each other. We both really helped each other this week. "There was so much crowd support out there for us; I think we rode that last stage on pure adrenalin. I am completely spent now.”The stage 7 win for Egger and Baum helped shift them up to second on the men's overall, 3:50 behind Beers and Blevins, while Schurter and Frischknecht – who finished fifth on the final stage – slipped to third overall at 4:12 behind the race leaders. Vera Looser and Kim le Court (Efficient Infiniti Insure) celebrate taking overall victory at the 2023 Absa Cape Epic (Image credit: Nick Muzik/Absa Cape Epic) In the women's category Wakefield and Lill had held the lead from stage 1, even with an upper arm gash and overnight surgery for Wakefield, but Looser and Le Court started to close the gap with their back-to-back victories on stage 4 and 5, and then stepped into the overall lead with a third win on stage 6. They looked like they could have been on the way to a fourth on stage 7 but slowed on the way into the Val de Vie Estate finish line to let Steinburg and Calderon take the win on the day, before claiming overall victory with their second placing.“This is such an amazing feeling,” said Looser. “It’s been a long hard week and we had to dig really deep, but we made it. I think we need a week or two to let it sink in!”Wakefield and Lill not only faced injury but also a broken a rim early on stage 6 which saw the duo lose more than 30 minutes and the race lead. Despite this they still held on for second place overall, finishing more than 32 minutes behind Le Court and Looser but still with a comfortable lead of more than 11 minutes to the NinetyOne-songo-Specialized pairing of Sofia Gomez Villafane and Katerina Nash.“Yesterday I was so bleak,” Wakefield said. “But then I looked at all the messages on Social Media and I was in tears. I was so touched by the support. You couldn’t make up the things that happened to us this week, but we just kept going.”
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