The women’s race of the 92km Stage 2 of the Absa Cape Epic came to a dramatic conclusion late in the day at the Oak Valley Wine Estate race village.
Although finishing the day in a blistering time of 4:37.31.1, Team RECM Specialized’s Ariane Kleinhans and Annika Langvad had to wait until the very end of the day to hear their race fate, this after they took an unintentional detour close to the finish line and in doing so cut almost 5km off their race distance.
The race commissaire was left with a difficult decision to make after listening to explanations from Team RECM Specialized (For a full statement on the decision, see below).
The teams turned left when they should have gone straight, eventually joining the course again unaware that they had lopped off around 5km of the stage distance.
After reviewing the situation for a number of hours, including analysing “on-board” GoPro footage of the incident, the commissaire decided 13 minutes and 39 seconds would be added to Team RECM Specialized’s stage time because they rode 5km less than the rest of the field.
In addition, an extra hour was added to their stage time for not following the route markings. The time penalties mean Team RECM Specialized finished 11th on the day.
This now takes Kleinhans and Langvad out of the category leader’s jerseys and into fourth place on the standings, with Team Ascendis Health’s Jennie Stenerhag and Robyn de Groot moving into first place in the standings.
Team RECM Specialized now find themselves 27.06,8 behind the new leaders. Third-place finishers of the women’s race on Stage 2, Sally Bigham and Christina Kollman of Team Sellaronda Hero, moved into second for the day and third in the overall standings.
Earlier in the day, however, and for much of the stage’s 92km, it was business as usual for Team RECM Specialized. With daylight between them and the rest of the women’s field it appeared that a daylight savings clock would be the only way the chasing pack could reel in Kleinhans and Langvad – or a costly error.
“We weren’t very comfortable in the beginning because it was very windy,” said Kleinhans. “But once we got going we were straight into the racing. We like to race hard from the start because you can pull away from the field and that lessens your chances of getting caught up in an accident.”
Elsewhere in the field, former Cape Epic winner Sally Bigham and Christina Kollman of Team Sellaronda Hero rode into some form, taking third-place on the day (before being bumped up to second).
Kollman was a late call-up to Bigham’s team, discovering just a week before the event that she would be taking part after Blaža Klemenčič pulled out through injury.
“Christina was so brave to take on this challenge at such short notice,” said Bigham, “so we are delighted to get on the podium today.”
It was all the more impressive considering Kollman was in some discomfort before the day started. “My back was really sore during the warm up and again just before we started, so we decided to just ride the first 20km and see how it went,” said Kollman. “It’s an unbelievable result for us. I just got better and better during the day.”
Tomorrow riders will leave Elgin and ride 128km towards Worcester, eventually finishing at HTS Drostdy in the town. Kleinhans and Langvad find themselves chasing the orange jersey once more, which should prove to be a demanding test of character for the new chasers and the new leaders.
Stage 2 results
1 Ascendis Health 55-1 Jennie Stenerhag (Sweden) 55-2 Robyn Lee de Groot (SA) 5:02.48,1
2 Sellaronda Hero 52-1 Sally Bigham (England) 52-2 Christina Kollmann (Austria) 5:03.45
3 Meerendal Wheeler C’dale 54-1 Milena Landtwing (Switzerland) 54-2 Hielke Elferink (Netherlands) 5:06.03,3
1 Ascendis Health 55-1 Jennie Stenerhag (Sweden) 55-2 Robyn Lee de Groot (SA) 11:49.42,5
2 Meerendal Wheeler 51-1 Esther Suss (Switzerland) 51-2 Alice Pirard (Belgium) 12:01.27,1
3 Sellaronda Hero 52-1 Sally Bigham (England) 52-2 Christina Kollmann (Austria) 12:09.25,1
4 RECM Specialized 50-1 Ariane Kleinhans (Switzerland) 50-2 Annika Langvad (Denmark) 12:16.49,3
5 Meerendal Wheeler C’dale 54-1 Milena Landtwing (Switzerland) 54-2 Hielke Elferink (Netherlands) 12:17.34,0
6 SasolRacing 56-1 Yolande de Villiers (South Africa) 56-2 Janka Keseg Stevkova (Slovakia) 12:23.23,1
7 RBS 137-1 Theresa Ralph (SA) 137-2 Jeannie Bomford (SA) 12:29.52,9
8 World Bicycle Relief 53-1 Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja (Norway) 53-2 Kathrin Stirnemann (Switzerland) 12:35.36,5
9 Novus OMX Pro 79-1 Mariske Strauss (SA) 79-2 Cherie Vale (SA) 13:00.18,1
10 SasolRacing 2 59-1 Leana de Jager (SA) 59-2 Yolandi du Toit (SA) 13:13.09,7
Decision relating to race protest against RECM Specialized
Team RECM Specialized went off the course towards the end of today’s Stage Two of the Absa Cape Epic, short cutting the route by approximately 4.5km before rejoining the course.
This became evident through irregularities in the timing and a race protest.
The short cut was verified through various means, including the timing and tracking records and also by the admission of the riders.
The route was clearly signposted at the point where RECM Specialized exited the course. It was however deemed to not be a deliberate breach and therefore did not warrant a disqualification. It is the responsibility of the riders to ensure that they do not leave the course and therefore an hour penalty has been applied. This was based on the time penalties for other misdemeanors in the Absa Cape Epic rules.
In addition to the one hour penalty, an additional time adjustment compensating for the time gained by riding a shorter distance has been added. This adjustment has been based on the time Team RECM Specialized gained over 2nd placed Team Ascendis Health over the distance between the last water point and the finish line.
RECM Specialized were 11m38s ahead at water point three – the last point on the course where the teams were timed before RECM Specialized went off the course – and 25m17s ahead at the finish line. The time gained over that part of the route was therefore 13m39s.
The total penalty against RECM Specialized is therefore 1h13m39s.
President of the Commissaires Panel (UCI)