Overall men’s leaders Karl Platt of Germany and Swiss partner Urs Huber held on for third place on Saturday’s penultimate stage, while women’s favourites Annika Langvad of Denmark and Swiss rider Ariane Kleinhans took second place, setting up likely victories at the Cape Epic mountainbike race.
Platt and Huber (Team Bulls) were more than three minutes off the pace of Greek rider Periklis Ilias and Tiago Ferreira of Portugal (Dolomiti Superbike), who earned their first stage win on debut, but they remained 15 minutes clear of the rest of the field in the general classification.
“Urs and I just wanted to get from A to B without doing anything silly,” Platt, a four-time winner of the event, told the race website.
“In the end, it was a great day of riding on a ‘lekker’ route.”
Langvad and Kleinhans (Spur-Specialized), aiming for their third straight victory at the annual race, were less than three minutes behind the Sport for Good pairing of German Sabine Spitz and Ukrainian Yana Belomoina, who earned a comfortable win on the 72km leg in Boschendal.
The leaders, however, were 15 minutes ahead of their nearest opponents in the GC.
“We’ve entered the closing phase of the race and we definitely want to win it,” Langvad said.
“There’s been pressure on us to live up to our previous results, but our competitors have been quite strong.
“That said, we go into the final stage with lots of confidence because we have a good gap, which shows we have been the strongest team this week. Now we just have to get to the finish line.”
The final stage of the race, an 86km leg between Boschendal and Meerendal Wine Estate, will be held on Sunday.