Cape Epic: Another stage win for Batten and Gomez Villafañe with one day of racing remaining

American female duo take third stage-win of race, men's GC sees shakeup as Blevins and Beers slide back into third overall.

Photo: Courtesy Cape Epic

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NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized’s Haley Batten and Sofia Gomez Villafañe are proving unstoppable in South Africa.

The American duo celebrated their third stage win on Saturday, and now lead Faces Rola (Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss) by over 16 minutes going into Sunday’s final stage.

It was a two-team battle on the 76-kilometer stage on Saturday, with the two leading teams swapping places throughout the largely singletrack course. With around 10k to go, NinetyOne-songo-Specialized finally managed to shake off Faces Rola. Batten and Gomez Villafañe rode gracefully as a unit on the tight turns, and rode the final kilometers comfortably together.

Gomez Villafañe said after the stage that the week she and Batten spent pre-riding in Stellenbosch gave them an advantage during Saturday’s race.

The men’s race saw another pair of new faces on the top step of the podium as Italian-Belgian duo Fabian Rabensteiner and Wout Alleman (Wilier-Pirelli) rode an impeccable race to the top.

The Italian marathon MTB champ and former Belgian XCO champ looked strong from the start, attacking on the first climb. Speed Company Racing and Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized followed, but Beers and Blevins soon dropped off. Wilier-Pirelli was also able to pull away from Speed Company Racing.

The yellow jersey leaders Canyon Northwave MTB appeared to be struggling, particularly Andreas Seewald, who is battling a rib injury.

From the 40km mark, Wilier-Pirelli was able to pull away from the chasers, riding to the finish without much pressure for the final 30km.

Finishing sixth on the day, Blevins and Beers drop back into third overall, after a brief period in second place on Friday.

Cape Epic elite women’s overall results after stage 6

  1. Haley Batten / Sofia Gomez Villafañe (NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized), 30:13:51
  2. Candice Lill / Mariske Strauss (Faces Rola), at 16:29
  3. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot / Robyn de Groot (BMC MTB Racing), at 38:10
  4. Mari Rabie / Hayley Preen (Private Client Holdings), at 1:12:12
  5. Ariane Lüthi / Amy Wakefield (Symbtech ZA), at 1:16:16

Cape Epic elite men’s overall results after stage 6

  1. Andreas Seewald / Martin Stošek (Canyon Northwave MTB), 24:54:46
  2. Georg Egger / Lukas Baum (Speed Racing Company), at 2:45
  3. Christopher Blevins / Matt Beers (Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized), at 7:40
  4. Hans Becking / José Dias (BUFF-MEGAMO), at 20:14
  5. Urs Huber / Simon Schellner, at 30:37

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