Cape Epic Stage 5 - Between sliding around and push-ups
After enjoying yesterday's transfer stage with its more moderate terrain, came today's fifth stage, which was a real test of endurance. The course started from camp on the Cape Peninsula University Campus in Wellington, where the riders arrived by vehicle following yesterday’s stage. With a total of 2900 metres in altitude and 84 kilometres, the stage was rightly given the title "The only way is up!" by the organisers. In addition, the rainy and windy weather conditions not only took their toll on the riders, but also had an effect on the course, making the many single tracks that little bit more slippery.
The slippery surface was also Lennard's undoing right at the beginning of the day. "Somehow I slipped at the beginning of the stage and fell. As a result, we couldn't really follow through with our tried and tested tactics, as we unfortunately lost connection with the bunch. So we had to get ourselves motivated again, as the weather was really not so inviting. But halfway through the race we found a good rhythm and made the best of the day," said Lennard about his little slip-up.
"Luckily nothing happened to Lenni, but small falls like that are part and parcel of mountain biking. I'd say he's already (almost) a real mountain biker," Ben comments on his teammate's accident. "Nevertheless, it was a bit tougher for us today because of the altitude difference. When you're no longer with the best teams, it doesn't necessarily get easier, because everything drags on a lot more and of course motivation also plays a decisive role. Nevertheless, we were able to find a good rhythm on the Aap d'Huez, the last ascent of the day, and we’re happy to have finished the day well.
Despite the toughness of the stage, Ben created something of an amusing spectacle after the finish line, when he suddenly started doing push-ups. "We've had a deal in our group since yesterday that if you complain you're cold, you have to do 10 push-ups. So unfortunately, I had to do it again right after the stage, but I was able to manage this pretty well," Zwiehoff said about his extra workout in the finish area.
"The weather and particularly the dirt is a real challenge, especially after stages like this. Since the weather forecast doesn't look much better for the next few days, the guys have to be really careful to keep everything clean. Otherwise, I'm afraid they won't be able to avoid cleaning every day. I already have to take care of the bikes, which the guys get pretty dirty during the stage. ", says mechanic Mario Lexmüller.
Especially on days like today, the demands on the riders and the bikes increase considerably and require even more intensive preparation and post-stage care.
"For us, it's similar to the road, because you have to adjust to the conditions with rain gear. Since there’s quite a lot of mud, we adjusted our setup today, especially the tyres. We also had some chain oil in our jersey pockets to keep everything running smoothly in these conditions," remarks Lennard Kämna. "There is no such thing in road races, because there we have the possibility of riding to the team car for support. Here you just have to prepare a bit better and you're on your own more often."
Photos: ©Michal Cerveny