Despite picking up a puncture and losing out on the stage victory, German rider Karl Platt and Switzerland’s Urs Huber retained their lead on Tuesday, after stage two of the Absa Cape Epic.
Left to deal with the setback with 10km remaining in the 93km leg in Tulbagh, the Team Bulls duo were overtaken by another Swiss-German pairing, debutants Nicola Rohrbach and Matthias Pfrommer (Centurion Vaude), who went on to secure the stage victory in 4:16:48.
They crossed the line more than three minutes ahead of the overall leaders.
“All day it was very tough and very technical, especially the middle part, but eventually we caught the Bulls and the lead bunch,” Rohrbach said.
“I think we were about 10 seconds behind the Bulls, but the plan was always to then push hard because Matthias and I are both very fast on the downhill.
“We passed them on the last descent, but also because they had a flat.”
Platt and Huber extended their overall advantage to nearly seven minutes over Rohrbach and Pfrommer, whose performance on the day saw them climb to second in the standings.
“We were riding along very comfortably all day,” Huber said.
“Even though the puncture was annoying, it was a good day. But like always in racing, it could be better.”
The local pairing of Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock (USN Purefit) overcame a technical issue when Lill’s chain broke, holding on to the African leaders’ jersey in eighth place overall.
After being outclassed in the prologue and first stage of the women’s event, pre-race favourites Ariane Kleinhans of Switzerland and Danish teammate Annika Langvad (Spur Specialised) came good with a solid win, completing the stage in 5:06:00.
The duo charged clear to overtake South African Robyn de Groot and Swedish partner Jennie Stenerhag (Team Ascendis Health) in the standings.
After trailing by 58 seconds at the start of the day, they opened a gap of more than three minutes by the end of the stage.
Stenerhag crashed and hurt her left arm early in the stage, though she was confident she would be able to continue the eight-day race.
While the Ascendis Health duo settled for fourth position, they held on to second spot overall.
“From the word go the ladies attacked and we were on the back foot,” De Groot said.
“It’s a tough field, so we knew it would be exciting racing this year, but we won’t give up.”
Wednesday’s third stage will take riders on a 104km journey from Tulbagh to Wellington.