Four-time winner Karl Platt of Germany and Swiss partner Urs Huber got their campaign off to a strong start on Sunday, romping to a comfortable victory in tough conditions on the opening day of the Absa Cape Epic mountain bike race.
The Team Bulls duo covered the 26km prologue course through Meerendal Wine Estate, outside Cape Town, in 1:04:34.
They were more than a minute ahead of Swiss rider Nicola Rohrbach and German partner Matthias Pfrommer (Centurion Vaude) who were lying second overall in the early stages of the gruelling eight-day event.
Platt was pleased to get off to such a promising start, with his sights set on equalling Christoph Sauser’s record of five victories at the annual race.
“The conditions were so tough, and we were battling a side-on wind at the top,” Platt told the race website.
“There was nowhere to hide out there, so to have such an awesome ride was the best way to start.
“I’m confident about our team shape and I’m excited about the week ahead.”
National cross country champion James Reid and Gert Heyns (Team Spur) were the first South African pair across the line, in fourth place.
In the women’s race, national marathon champion Robyn de Groot and Swedish partner Jennie Stenerhag (Ascendis Health) took the early lead with a dominant effort in the prologue.
Favourites Ariane Kleyhans and Annika Langvad settled for second position, 18 seconds off the pace.
“We both had some patches of suffering and some patches of feeling really good, and they didn’t happen at the same time, which was a really good thing,” Stenerhag said.
The first of seven real stages will be held on Monday, with riders covering 108km in Saronsberg.