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Two Specialized teams are in the orange leader’s jersey after the opening stage of the Absa Cape Epic.
All four names will be familiar to fans of U.S. off-road endurance racing.
Colorado-born World Cup pro Christopher Blevins and South African Matt Beers now sit atop the leaderboard for the men while ‘cross legend Katerina Nash and queen of Unbound Sofia Gomez Villafañe blazed to victory in the women’s race.
Last year, Gomez Villafañe and American Haley Batten won the overall at the South African stage race; Blenvins and Beers were third.
The Prologue stage at the Cape Epic is a short, fast kick-off to the week of racing to follow. Sunday’s Prologue was a 27-kilometer loop with 750 meters of climbing, but the details belie the difficulty.
The Prologue is the only stage in the Cape Epic where riders do not start en mass; rather, the results from the first day of racing determines seeding for stage 1, so riders put in huge efforts to get a good start position.
Although it won’t have any bearing on the overall result, the Prologue helps teams make last-minute adjustments to their equipment, communication, and, as Gomez Villafañe said at the finish, strategy.
“We need to work a bit on our pacing technique,” she said. “I think I would get too excited when I would start seeing somebody and be like, ‘let’s go!’ But it was a solid effort and we didn’t blow any matches for tomorrow.
Having matches left for Stage 1 s a good thing — Monday’s course is 98 kilometers with a whopping 2550 meters of climbing.
Both the men’s and women’s Prologue races were decided by seven seconds; Scott-SRAM’s Nino Schurter and Andri Frischknecht were behind Blevins and Beers in second and last year’s overall winners Georg Egger and Lukas Baum sit in third.
The second-place women’s team of Vera Looser and Kim Le Court are currently in the African winner’s jersey.
Full results here.