German rider Manuel Fumic and Brazilian teammate Henrique Avancini stretched their lead in the Absa Cape Epic mountain bike race on Thursday, while Swiss rider Esther Suss and Swedish partner Jennie Stenerhag stamped their authority on the women’s event.
The Scott-SRAM Young Guns duo of Dutchman Michiel van der Geijden and Swiss teammate Andri Frischknecht won a sprint for the line against the Scott-SRAM Racing pairing of Switzerland’s Nino Schurter and countryman Matthias Stirnemann, securing victory on the 112km fourth stage from Greyton to Elgin.
While Van der Geijden and Frischknecht climbed to fifth place overall, however, though they were not considered title contenders, lying more than 22 minutes off the pace in the general classification with three stages left.
Fumic and Avancini (Cannondale Factory Racing) finished third on the stage, extending their overall advantage by around 20 seconds, and they were nearly two minutes ahead of Schurter and Stirnemann who climbed to second place.
Another Swiss rider, five-time winner Christoph Sauser, and Czech partner Jaroslav Kulhavy (Investec-Songo Specialized) slipped back one spot to third position overall after Kulhavy hit a rock and picked up a puncture which held them back.
Max Knox continued to lead the South African charge with Colombian Hector Paez (Kansai Plascon), remaining fourth in the general classification.
“We are happy again with the result,” Fumic said.
“We weren’t too worried with Scott making up time. We knew we had a decent gap on them.
“Today was all about managing the pace and keeping Investec-Songo Specialized close.”
In the women’s race, Suss and Stenerhag (Meerendal CBC) won the stage by more than three minutes, with South African rider Mariske Strauss and British partner Annie Last (Hansgrohe Cadence OMX Pro) crossing the line in second place.
Local favourite Robyn de Groot and German veteran Sabine Spit (Ascendis Health) held on for third position, after Spitz picked up a puncture, and though they remained in second place overall, they were nearly 13 minutes behind the leaders.
Friday’s fifth stage will take riders on an 84km loop around Elgin and Grabouw.