Dramatic finish in Women’s race

When Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag of Team Ascendis Health crossed the finish line first in a time of 5:22.18,4 on Stage 1 of the Absa Cape Epic, the most surprised people at Saronsberg Wine Estate were the two of them.

Absa Cape Epic 2016 Stage 1 Team Ascendis Health win.jpg
Robyn de Groot [L] and Jennie Stenerhag [R] Win stage 1 of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Saronsberg Wine Estate in Tulbagh, South Africa on the 14th March 2016. Photo by Sam Clark/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

 

“We saw the helicopter, then we saw Ariane [Kleinhans] and thought maybe we can go for a stage win,” said De Groot of their passing manoeuvre on the Spur-Specialised pair of Ariane Kleinhans and Annika Langvad.

 

Up until that dramatic moment, in the final 2km of Monday’s 108km stage, the South African-Swedish pair of De Groot and Stenerhag feared for their Sasol Women’s category leader’s jersey.

 

“We thought we had lost it,” said De Groot. “We didn’t expect to catch up to them after we all split.”

 

Stage 1 was the first time in Absa Cape Epic history where the UCI-registered women’s teams started in their own batch, taking off five minutes after the UCI men on Monday morning. De Groot believes that it added an interesting element to the racing among the women.

 

“It was very nice and gave us all a fair chance to leverage off the start. Once we were caught by the men who started behind us we then rode tempo,” said De Groot, the reigning South African Marathon champion.

 

Langvad and Kleinhans came home in second place, losing 39.9 seconds on the day, and the pain was etched on the Swiss rider’s face.

 

“It was actually a very good day,” recalled Langvad, speaking for the pair while Kleinhans struggled through the day’s exertions.

 

“We got away on the first climb when the Grand Masters caught up with us. Up until that stage it was actually very slow. When the men caught us I think they expected us to do the work but it didn’t really happen. We knew today would be interesting with the new start and nobody had an idea how it would go.”

 

Absa Cape Epic 2016 Stage 1 Team Spur Specialized.jpg
Ariane Kleinhans [R] and Annika Langvad [L] during stage 1 of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Saronsberg Wine Estate in Tulbagh, South Africa on the 14th March 2016. Photo by Sam Clark/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS.

 

Langvad, provided insight to where the the tide turned for her and her teammate – their lead at one stage had grown to over four minutes.

 

“It was a little bit of a shame. Suddenly, in the last 20km Ariane started struggling and her pace dropped. She said she was quite tired.”

 

Despite now being 58 seconds behind overall, Langvad remained positive of Kleinhans recovering sufficiently for Stage 2 and beyond…

 

“Obviously we feel the pressure of being caught today, especially because we rode a very strong race up until that point, but there is a long race ahead…”

 

The podium today was rounded off by Sally Bigham and Adel Morath of Topeak Ergon, who arrived home 5:50.4 behind the stage winners.

 

“It was very dusty today but there was nice singletrack. We knew it was going to be hot today so we weren’t surprised by that,” said Bigham of today’s conditions.

 

The Brit called the new women’s batch “better, for sure” adding that the racing became a little different when the Grand Masters caught up with the UCI Women.

 

“When they came past, the women’s race opened up and from then on we were by ourselves.”

 

Tuesday’s Stage 2, 93km out and back at Saronsberg, is the 100th of the Absa Cape Epic. Will the leader’s make it three-from-three or will the prestige of the stage see another team take it?




28 Comments

Bub Marley, Mar 14 2016 04:04

Think this is confirmation of Ariane's poor form coming into the epic. 

 

Great stuff from Team Ascendis though.

Eldron, Mar 14 2016 04:14

She looked a bit off in the Prologue.

 

It would be interesting to know if Sasol are faster or SpurSpesh is slower...

 

I'm going with - Ariane is a little sick and in a few days it'll be the Ariane and Annika show again...

PhilipV, Mar 14 2016 04:43

 

 

I'm going with - Ariane is a little sick and in a few days it'll be the Ariane and Annika show again...

 

 

I tend to agree with you.

Pure uninformed speculation: Could it be that Ariane is not training with Erik anymore and her form is down?

 

I think she is going to bounce back, and then we will see sparks...

Eldron, Mar 14 2016 05:12

I tend to agree with you.

Pure uninformed speculation: Could it be that Ariane is not training with Erik anymore and her form is down?

 

I think she is going to bounce back, and then we will see sparks...

 

Something is up this year - she hasn't been the rider we have seen for the last few years.. Beaten by De Groot in Sabie and Suss and Stenerhag in Meerendal.

 

Summin is up!

TDFN, Mar 14 2016 05:15

Different start also plays a part. If you start a batch down you will always be going slower so in the past where you started had a huge impact. 

 

Now not so much as they tend to stay together for longer and then when the master come by things hot up.

 

Gonna be fun to watch this develop. The Epic is long, very long at the pointy end.

MarcW, Mar 14 2016 07:52

Reports say that Ariane had a bent brake rotor after a crash, hence the sudden change in pace.

Rebelking, Mar 14 2016 08:01

Ariane is a beast. Team Ascendis can count there lucky stars that she crashed & bent a rotor.

http://www.iamspecia...c-2016---day-1/

UpShift_Cycles, Mar 14 2016 08:10

Jennie and Robyn are on a different level than last year, both taking wins over the last few months. The woman's race will be the race to watch. Bulls unless something dramatic happens Tech or Crash will be too far ahead by end of Thursday's stage

B20, Mar 14 2016 09:00

Ariane is a beast. Team Ascendis can count there lucky stars that she crashed & bent a rotor.

http://www.iamspecia...c-2016---day-1/

 

Agreed, Ari is a machine.

Give the girl a break, don't speculated.

Given that Ari has been beaten in a few races this year as well, by Robs and Jen. 

However, what is not public knowledge is that Ari had an accident not to long ago at Die Boord in Stellies, when a man opened his car door knocked her off her bike. 

She hurt her hip. 

Today there was hurt all over Ari's face coming through WP3. 

She had a limp at the finish. 

I have not spoken to her since the start of the Epic, but that injury could also play a part.

Robs & Jen is on a different level than last year! 

They even drilled Ester and Sally's teams.

 

The starting sequence for the ladies have also changed, which make for closer racing.

At WP 1, Ascendis trailed by 1.30sec. At WP 3, they trailed 4.08sec.

Robs and Jen pulled it back in a strong tail wind to take the win.

NotSoBigBen, Mar 14 2016 09:07

Is this race not still another 6 days? I can understand that one does not want to lose too much time but there's lots of racing still ahead! Damn these ladies are not only fast but seriously tough [emoji1303]

theHED, Mar 14 2016 09:53

Am I the only one who thinks it's a bit weird she didn't know her back brake was dragging?  

Rick Sanchez, Mar 14 2016 09:57

Am I the only one who thinks it's a bit weird she didn't know her back brake was dragging?  

Very strange yes. Should have felt it or maybe even heard it. Happened to me before and I couldn't figure out why I was suffering so much up the climbs  :whistling:  :blush:

B20, Mar 14 2016 10:29

Am I the only one who thinks it's a bit weird she didn't know her back brake was dragging?  

 

Once I was taking pics just after a river crossing at the Attakwas, when Ari nearly rode over my phone which was right next to my leg.  I was about 1.5m off the racing line. 

After the race I mentioned it to her, and she could not remember it.

She did not even see me, let alone my phone.

She zones out completely when racing.

With regards to the dragging rotor, they had a +-50km hour tail wind back to the finish.

So yes, if it dragged slightly, I can understand it.

B20, Mar 14 2016 10:32

I tend to agree with you.

Pure uninformed speculation: Could it be that Ariane is not training with Erik anymore and her form is down?

 

I think she is going to bounce back, and then we will see sparks...

 

She very rarely trained with Eric.

She mostly did her own training according to her coach's instructions.

Baaisikilist, Mar 14 2016 10:44

B20, do you perhaps have her phone number for me...?

You're welcome to send it in a PM...  :devil:

Pure Savage, Mar 14 2016 10:50

A few things from today which has a sour taste: Ariane has a mechanical and the hub manages to pin point it on another thread to her divorce and not being mentally 100%. Really? 

 

Never heard so much drivel. 

 

Whats with the ladies being allowed to draft the other age groupers? So they have their own start, but as soon as the age groupers come by its a "tempo ride" .  So there is no real reason for their own start? They just sit up and wait for the men, because if you were to hammer and open up a gap, you know the ladies behind you will just sit on the wheel and ride "tempo". As at most UCI events, if you are caught by a different age group, let them pass and  give them a gap. - Same thing happened at the Cycle Tour.

Jaco-fiets, Mar 14 2016 10:53

They should be the 3rd group to start. No point in waiting for the group behind them because they are to slow and they probably won't catch the 2nd group

PhilipV, Mar 14 2016 11:23

She very rarely trained with Eric.
She mostly did her own training according to her coach's instructions.

Like I said, uninformed speculation, and in this case unfounded.
I am really excited to see what happens in the next couple of days. I won't be surprised if the spez ladies pull off a huge day like they did last year after getting a time penalty.

Ryanpmb, Mar 15 2016 07:43

Two days in and the De Groot- Stenerhag "OMG - we can't believe we're winning" show is already getting old. You've trained to win. You want to win. You are winning. Well done. Now stop playing up to the media and just flippen ride.

'Dale, Mar 15 2016 08:15

It's a looooong way to Lourensford......

Gen, Mar 15 2016 08:28

It's a looooong way to Lourensford......

Which is why they are finishing at meerendal 😉

TIIME, Mar 15 2016 08:32

It's a looooong way to Lourensford......

So loooong in fact that they won't get there this year ;)

Jorrie, Mar 15 2016 08:50

Not looking too good for Ariane this morning. Was standing halfway up the first big climb, 4 top ladies teams together,  Anika way in front and Ariane at the back of them all...

'Dale, Mar 15 2016 08:55

So loooong in fact that they won't get there this year ;)

 

 

Oh 

Hehehee

 

Well, man, ya know what I mean hey  :blush:

Lighthouse, Mar 15 2016 08:57

Ariane is a beast. Team Ascendis can count there lucky stars that she crashed & bent a rotor.

http://www.iamspecia...c-2016---day-1/

Super interesting read thank you.