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  Cape-Epic, RSA
Date:  21.03.2009 - 28.03.2009
Description:  Mountain Bike stage race
More information:  http://www.cape-epic.com

A few pictures from our great songo.info staff during the Cape-Epic


A selection of Cape-Epic pictures from Gary Perkin


You can't miss out link 1. A video presentation of songo.info!

Thanks very much to http://www.slingshotmedia.co.za for realizing it!
Link 1: http://www.i-am-specialized.com/xc-mtb/news-article/cape-epic-son...


The Absa Cape Epic lived up to its ‘Magical and Untamed’ payoff-line when it took yet another unexpected turn on Friday after the race’s chief commissaire reviewed the 15-minute penalty he had imposed on the Songo.info team of Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander on Wednesday; and increased it to one hour.

Sauser (SUI), the reigning cross-country World Champion and Stander (RSA), the current Under-23 World Cup champion, had dominated the first half of the eight-day international stage race in South Africa’s Western Cape region, winning the Prologue and the first three stages. Friday’s increased time penalty for an infringement of the rules on Wednesday’s Stage 4, when they suffered a mechanical problem, has effectively ended any chance of the strongest team in the race finishing on the final podium.

But while for most finishers, Saturday will mark a celebration of the completion of the world’s only internationally graded mountain bike stage race, it will be a day of sombre reflection for Sauser and Stander on an event that will be remembered for the inconsistent implementation of sketchy rules.

After holding a lead of more than six minutes after Stage 3, Stander and Sauser’s hopes of victory began to fade on Wednesday’s Stage 4 when Stander crashed and damaged his front wheel beyond repair.

Fellow South Africans, Max Knox and Brandon Stewart of Team DCM Chrome, stopped to try and help Stander by offering him one of their wheels, but the design of the forks on the two different team bikes prevented any compatibility. Knox then gave Stander his bike to ride and started running with Stander’s bike to the next refreshment station a couple of kilometres ahead.

According to the race rules, a stricken rider is permitted to get assistance from his or her teammate or from fellow competitors.

Stander, Sauser and Stewart waited at the refreshment point for Knox, who received assistance from one of the event’s photographer motorcycles to carry the bike a few hundred metres up the route; and was then offered a wheel by day-trippers next to the route, allowing him to ride Stander’s bike to the refreshment point. Under the race rules, this constitutes outside assistance, which carries a one-hour penalty. Because Knox and Stewart weren’t in contention for a final podium Knox was content to accept the penalty.

In 2007 and 2008 there were tech zones at each refreshment point where repairs were affected to bikes by professional, neutral mechanics. This year, however, this service has not been offered. But after a slew of mechanical problems suffered by some of the leading contenders on the first couple of stages, the teams requested that tech support of some kind be implemented. The organisers obliged and from Stage 3 created a mobile spares transport option, carrying spare wheels and parts for teams that wanted to use the service. The spares transport was sent to two points on the route, usually at a refreshment point.

Arriving on Knox’s bike at the next refreshment point, Stander was able to get one of his own spare wheels from the spares transport vehicle. He then fitted the spare wheel to his bike once Knox arrived with it. Knox and Stewart then set about helping Sauser and Stander pace back some of the 24 minutes they had lost as a result of the incident. Stander and Sauser eventually reduced the deficit to just over nine minutes by the end of the stage, but they lost their overall race lead in the process.

“We offered our riders to speak to the commissaire after the stage to explain what had happened on the route,” said Kandice Buys, the DCM Chrome team manager. “But he declined, saying he’d rather speak to marshalls out on the route that would have witnessed the incident.”

“Being such dominant race leaders, TV cameras followed Burry and Christoph’s every move, especially when they had the problem with the wheel, recording everything that happened during the incident. It’s not like they could have done something that went unnoticed,” added Buys.

As expected, Knox and Stewart were penalised one hour, while Stander and Stewart were given a 15-minute penalty for having indirectly received outside assistance via the DCM Chrome team.

However, on Friday, two days after his initial ruling, the race’s chief commissaire, Tim Ward, decided to review the ruling and the penalty. After watching the television footage of the incident (which he declined to do on Wednesday), he deemed the Songo.info pair of Sauser and Stander to have benefitted directly and not indirectly from outside assistance, implementing the full one-hour penalty.

“As soon as we finished that stage, I described the entire incident to a TV crew,” said Sauser. “The pilot of the motorcycle that helped Max carry Burry’s bike also explained the incident to the TV crew. We had nothing to hide. We were happy to describe the incident to the commissaire too, but he chose not to speak to us about it. Only after pressure from the some of the other teams did he examine TV footage and reconsider the penalty.”

“It’s not the penalty that concerns me, it’s the inconsistency of the application of the rules,” said a clearly disappointed Bobby Behan, Specialized Global Marketing. “And the rules aren’t even very clear. We accepted our penalty after Stage 4 and decided to not let it get us down. We still had a shot at stage wins and finishing on the final podium. But two days later the time penalty gets increased. Not very thorough; where is the consistency? At this point from our perspective it’s imperative that the penalties are a reflection of a failing system and not the rider’s facts of the incident, which were clearly offered.”

Sauser was more concerned about ensuring clarity over the incident than having his hopes dashed of finishing on the final podium on Saturday.

“It’s very important that people know we did not try to hide any information. It was the commissaire’s decision not to speak to us or to watch the TV footage on Wednesday. We came to the Cape Epic to win and while it’s nice to finish somewhere on the final podium, the win is what we wanted. Right now, all we want is to leave this race with our names clear.”

60km, 2.52hrs, 4th Place, 6th Overall Classification with 1h time penalty

It was like a real cross country start, except we all have 8 days of racing in our legs already!
The Flückiger brothers still had the freshest legs and nobody could follow them, and after DCM chrome and Merida took off, all the top teams decided to take it easy now. I already though before, "why do we do this to us!?" Everybody was really happy to chat the ride away and enjoy the scenery especially over the old Sir Lowry's pass road a national heritage.
Finishing the Cape-Epic feels great no matter what, and every year I am impressed with the finish in Laurensford. Great setup and so many spectators!

Now I am staying a few more days in Stellenbosch, before we are traveling to Pietermaritzburg, where I am racing the SA Cup race this coming Saturday.

(by Bobby Behan, Specialized Global Marketing)

Another Cape Epic is over, an event we have left in 2009 with very mixed feelings, regarding the organization, but very positive feelings because of the impact we have had on the Kayamandi Community, through the Songo.info projects.
Songo.info in Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander dominated the event, winning five of the eight stages, but on the now well-documented stage four, where through a mark of pure sportsmanship Songo.info had support from DCM Chrome, what was initially a 15 minute penalty, two days later was increased to a one hour penalty. Poor organization, lack of sportsmanship and the inability to make concrete decisions left the event in turmoil.
Christoph Sauser’s final words were “I wish the legs did the talking and not the politics”.
On Friday evening as the event was entering it’s final day, Songo.info took stage at The Cape Epic dinner and depicted the Songo.info story. The most important message is that Songo.info, in Christoph Sauser, Burry Stander and it’s partnerships with Specialized Bicycles, JAG Foundation, Pedal Power Association, Stellenbosch municipality, the Kayamandi Community and many other generous contributors, have positively impacted the lives of many underprivileged kids in Kayamandi.
Over a sixteen-month period, the kids in Kayamandi through Songo.info and it’s partners have a BMX Track and associated bikes, plus mountain bikes and the pathway towards creating a cycling club in Kayamandi, which is Songo.info’s next goal. Each day after school kids are seen exercising, smiling and having fun. That’s what counts.
The real victors in The 2009 Cape Epic have been the young kids of Kayamandi.

85km, 3.30hrs, second place a few seconds off Trek

Many days into this hard race already, and it seems we are going harder every day, right from the start on!
Already after the first climb we have been 5 teams left and only took pressure off the pedals at the feed zones. It was the very first time that we stopped for a official pee in the last feed zone!
But that was pretty much the only socializing during the 3.5h of racing.
Team Bulls broke they're chain close to the finish. Trek was sprinting on the last 8kms to the finish. Burry had a hard time to see straight, and we lost about 15sec to the team Trek, and gained a little bit more then a minute to Bulls

111km, 4.15hrs, First Place

It is nice to start out on a hilly paved road for the first kilometers, but soon after we hit a big climb, where Burry and I tried to split up the field, especially isolating Team Bulls from their second team. This move quickly formed a group of about six teams riding towards water point two. It felt like we were on holidays compare to yesterday's full on chasing!! Bart and Jongewaard attacked in the feed zone! I have no idea why they did it, but probably you have to when your chances are getting limited...
Burry and myself did take it steady, leading for most of the time towards the fast roads an feed 3. The real racing started there, and everybody knew it. The cross country race was on, and the small field broke into pieces over hard steep climbs towards the end. Despite racing so hard yesterday, we still felt very crispy. With about 10km to go, we finally chased back Bart / Jongewaard and rode the victory in to the beautiful Oak Valley Estate.

114km, 4.5hrs, top ten

(By Bobby Behan):
Winning four stages in a row was great and I suppose barring major problems things were looking good for us, but as I say barring major problems. Today unfortunately was a day full of problems, one which was major problem and could have cost Team Songo.info the entire race.

The problems started on a big open road after 15 minutes where Susi suffered a puncture, standard with many teams here in The Epic, given the nature of the event, varying surfaces and terrrain. Once fixed the lads chased for 30 minutes and managed to get back into the main group. Right when they got back to the group, just when they were breating that sigh of relief that you are back on the lead train, another puncture came ….. it was basically the plug coming off from the repairs to the previous puncture.

What sportsmen … DCM Chrome offered to wait and help, but unfortunately their rotors were a different size. Susi and Burry got going again and chased so hard, thanks to DCM Chrome who really helped with the chasing. Songo.info were almost back on the lead bunch again when Burry crashed bad. He wrecked his front wheel!!! This was where the major problems started. Once again DCM Chrome were there to help. We cannot say enough thank you’s to DCM Chrome and riders Brandon Stewart and Max Knox. Burry’s wheel was crushed. Max a former runner opted to run with Burry’s bike to the feed, while Burry rode with Susi on Max’s bike …. Once to the feed Burry and Susi waited patiently for Brandon and Max. This was such a tough wait and as the time elapsed any thoughts of winning The Epic started to evaporate. Max and Brandon arrived ….. wheels were changed and then the race back began. At this stage we were 25 minutes off the pace.

Burry and Susi were almost crushed by the pace the DCM Chrome duo set. The chased as if they were racing for a World Title, with Susi and Burry on their wheels. It was a true mark of sportsmanship – the sacrificed themselves, given that their overall GC hopes were over for Songo.info. With just 23km to go and almost 2.5 hours of chasing the DCM Chrome boys were spent and there Susi and Burry kicked into gear pushing hard to the finishline. Team Songo finished only 5 minutes off the winners, which was a miracle in itself.

Post race debates after any event is a manager’s worst nightmare. But the protests started, because Burry rode a different bike for a period of the race. After two meetings and lots of discussions Songo.info received a 15 minute penalty. The lads now lie 20 minutes behind.

Psyched is a good word to describe it, but both Burry and Susi are psyched!!!! The race is now on and they are not in it to loose! The kids in Kayamandi and all the support staff are willing them on ….. race day tomorrow and over the next two days is going to be very interesting.

75km, 3.10hrs, First Place, a few seconds ahead Team Trek

Right from the start the course brought us up up a loose climb, and after a short descent we went up up up for ever again, but most of it carrying or pushing the bike. Sure in total I have been walking for about a hour, but in full ridged carbon bike shoes. It felt like going freeriding in autumn, where we push our bikes a lot too. At least the Specialized Epic feels super light on the shoulders compared to the Enduro bike with all the spares on.
On the very fast descent down that mountain, I had a flat tire. It took us about a half hour to chase down the leaders, together with Team Bulls, and Merida.
On the last two short climbs, under the lead of Burry we could break away again, and maintained the lead until the finish.
Now we almost have a lead of 7min. to the Bulls, but this is nothing compared to what still can happen in the next 4 stages.

100km, 3.54hrs, First Place, 2.19min ahead Team Bulls

It was a bit tactical at the beginning, because there was a long flat stretch before mid way until we hit the real climbs. We preserved energy and hit it really hard on the last climb where we broke away, just 30min before the finish.

There were so many thorn bushes on the way. I had 25 of them only in my front tire. I don't know how you could have this race, before tire sealant was invented!?
Teams who had to change to tubes, they had been in huge problems, and a lot of them were forced to ride with flat tires all the way to the finish.
Unfortunately there are no more neutral tech zones, so what ever you need, has to be carried or lent from a other team.

110km, 4.50hrs, First Place, 2.13min ahead Team Bulls

We did not take it easy once!
When we hit the dirt the first time we got away with Trek/Brentjens. We did not lead once, but then broke away on the first real climb.
I felt super up Groenlandberg, this is almost a hour climb, but the descent was so rocky and for ever. Everything went numb!
On my stage profile the last 35km look easy and fast, but it took for ever and my energy went low. Burry also had a big side cut in his front tire with 10km to go. Luckily we were far ahead.

Today we have a nice camp side on the grass. Even I have a big lack of sleep I can not have my afternoon nap. The heart is still pumping, so as the air conditioning in the camper is vibrating. But there is no option to turn it off, otherwise I am getting roasted like a sausage!

Prologue Time Trial, 17km, First Place

(by Team Manager Bobby)
Against the backdrop of Table Mountain there could be no better setting for today’s 2009 Cape Epic Prologue. With the temperature reading 29 celcius at 10:30am we embarked in convoy from our base in Stellenbosch to Cape Town, a mere 45 minute drive. Benno, Susi and Claire were in car one, while I had Burry, his girlfriend Cherise and some other close friends in Gavin Noble and Tim Ziehl to keep me company. There was an air of positivity around the team, with lots of joking. Earlier in the morning the amateur teams were setting off on their prologue efforts, which included Rebecca Rusch and her partner / coach Matthew, plus Songo and Nidphe.

As you know Susi and Burry are competing in the team “Songo.info”, the charity founded by Christoph, focused on making a difference in the lives of kids through sport, in the local township of Stellenbosch called Kayamandi. The goal this year is to create a Cycling Club in Kayamandi through the Cycling4Kayamandi program. Specialized have already donated 50 bicycles!

After Wednesday’s launch and the smiles on the kid’s faces in Kayamandi, it was easy for both Susi and Burry to find motivation. Their efforts in this race can not only give them a title, but most importantly, their combined efforts can really lift the lives for underpriviledged kids in this community. There can be no higher motivaiton, especially after visting Kayamandi & seeing some of the conditions first hand. For more check out: HYPERLINK "http://www.songo.info" www.songo.info.

What a setting for today’s prologue. Table Mountain is such a sight and today was no different. Team Songo departed fourth last. I positioned myself at about the midway point, ideally situated at the top of today’s climb. Burry looked really strong up the climb, aided by local racing in recent months, thus giving him good conditioning. Team Songo passed this point in second position about 35 seconds adrift of MTN comprising of South African’s Kevin Evans and David George. Burry said that in the latter part of the prologue the Swiss World XC Champion Christoph came to the front, killing any lack of XC racing cobwebs!

The Songo went onto win the prologue by 6 seconds, which is a very positive start, with 7 days to come. Tomorrow’s stage sees the race departing in a regular start format from Gordon’s Bay.

Christoph’s Bike:

Bike: Specialized Epic Carbon Full Suspension
Tires: Specialized Fast Trac LK (Front)
Specialized Fast Trac LK (Rear)
Tire Pressures: 28 PSI (Front and Rear)
Fork Pressure: 75 PSI
Rear Shock Pressure: 170 PSI
Weight: 9.2 kg

Burry’s Bike:

Bike: Specialized Epic Carbon Full Suspension
Tires: Specialized Fast Trac LK (Front)
Specialized Fast Trac LK (Rear)
Tire Pressures: 23 PSI (Front)
25 PSI (Rear)
Fork Pressure: 75 PSI
Rear Shock Pressure: 180 PSI
Weight: 9.2 kg


1. Songo.info 40’58’’8
2. MTN Energade 41’04’’1
3. Multivan Merida 41’45’’3

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31.01.2009 05:28:46 .
From Guedes Duarte, Vila Real, Portugal




© copyright 2000 by Christoph Sauser, produced by CIMP Group