In the Aramex Women’s Category, Ghost Factory Racing and Cannondale Factory Racing (Candice Lill and Mona Mitterwallner) appeared to be neck-and-neck in the early stages, but the heat proved too much for Austrian rider Mitterwallner. Cannondale Factory Racing faded towards the end of the stage, allowing Ghost Factory Racing’s Terpstra and Koller to surge ahead.

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“I struggled with the heat today,” said Mitterwallner on the finish line. “I think I got a heat stroke for the first time in my life. My heart rate was sitting at 195 and wouldn’t get below 190, so I couldn’t recover in the descents. Then I got cold and shaky. I was just trying to survive to the finish.”

Cannondale teammate Lill was happy with the second place, though, knowing that there’s a long, hard week of racing to come. “It’s always a shock to the system to start the week with such a hard effort, but I think we rode well. It’s always good to get the Prologue out the way, take some positivity into the week and focus on the racing.”

Cannondale Factory Racing’s Candice Lill and Mona Mitterwallner. Photo by Sam Clark/Cape Epic

Terpstra and Koller were all focus, all morning, to claim their first stage win at their first attempt. Both riders are racing the Cape Epic for the first time and took to the trails like seasoned veterans. The team rode smoothly throughout the 27km stage, barely putting a pedal stroke wrong as they calmly navigated the course.

It was around the halfway point in the stage where Cannondale Factory Racing started to drop off the pace, allowing Ghost Factory Racing to spirit away the stage victory.

“We are very happy with a stage win,” said Terpstra. “We weren’t expecting that at all. We just wanted to ride at our own pace but then we started going nicely and getting faster. It was hot out there. And dusty. I am looking forward to a shower!”

Sophia Gomez Villafane and Samara Sheppard of Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne take a 3rd place day 1 finish. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic

2022 Aramex Women’s Category winner Sofia Gomez Villafane, riding with Samara Sheppard (Toyota-Specialized-Ninetyone), finished third on the day, one minute and 11 seconds off the lead.

Monday’s Stage 1 of the 2024 Absa Cape Epic will see riders tackle the tricky terrain of Tulbagh in an 88km ride featuring 2450m of climbing. As always at the Cape Epic, though, it could be the elements that have the final say.