Hans Becking, on his birthday, and Wout Alleman (BUFF – MEGAMO) roared to a second successive stage win on Stage 2 of the Absa Cape Epic in Tulbagh. At the same time, Anne Terpstra and Nicole Koller (GHOST Factory Racing) claimed a hattrick of stage victories in the Aramex Women’s Category on the 97km stage that started and finished at Saronsberg Cellar.

Read all the Absa Cape Epic news on Diverge.info here.

BUFF – MEGAMO, after a commanding Stage 2 performance, also moved into the overall lead in the Absa Cape Epic General Classification and will wear the Yellow Leader Jerseys from tomorrow (Stage 3).

GHOST Factory Racing, in the women’s overall leaders Orange Leader Jerseys since the Prologue, strengthened their grip on first place and now sit one minute and 13 seconds ahead of second-placed Cannondale Factory Racing (Candice Lill and Mona Mitterwallner) in the Aramex Women’s Category.

Stage 2 of the Absa Cape Epic took riders out of Saronsberg Cellar, up the daunting Wagon Trail singletrack climb and into the sandy and rocky Witzenberg Valley before returning to Saronsberg via the Wagon Trail descent.

Consecutive and second stage win for Buff Megamo team, UCI Men

Buff Megamo’s Hans Becking gifted with a second successive stage win. Photo by Sam Clark/Cape Epic

From the start, the main contenders of BUFF – MEGAMO, World Bicycle Relief (Nino Schurter and Sebastian Fini), Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne (Matt Beers and Howard Grotts) and ORBEA Leatt Speed Company (Georg Egger and Lukas Baum) jostled for position to hit the singletrack climb in front.

The racing was impacted early when Danish rider Fini suffered a puncture. Repairs didn’t take long, but in a flash Fini and teammate Schurter found themselves behind a stream of riders, forcing them to fight their way through the field like heartbroken Kung-Fu masters avenging loved ones in a straight-to-video action flick. It was only around the 90km point in the race when they managed to move into second place on the day.

Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne, BUFF – MEGAMO, ORBEA Leatt Speed Company and, for a short while, Wilier Vittoria Factory (Fabian Rabensteiner and Samuele Porro), took advantage of Fini’s misfortune to race ahead.

Absa Cape Epic Stage 2, World Bicycle Relief team

Nino Schurter and Sebastian Fini of World Bicycle Relief fought their way back to second place after hitting a few snags on Stage 2.Epic. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic

At this stage, Wout Alleman and Matt Beers looked like the strongest, most determined riders in the field, until Beers suffered a puncture two-thirds into the day’s racing. Alleman cracked on, as did Speed Company; Wilier Vittoria Factory found the pace too demanding and started to drift back.

Stage 2 became a two-team race between BUFF – MEGAMO and Speed Company up until the 70km point. The race changed here when Speed Company’s Georg Egger stopped to take in nutrition, allowing Alleman and Becking to push ahead and ride unhindered for the next 27km to claim the stage win and the Yellow Leader Jerseys.

“We felt amazing today, just super strong,” said Alleman. “It was a crazy day though – so many things happened but we managed to navigate them all, so I’m super happy to get over the line with the win.”

Becking, celebrating his 37th birthday with a Absa Cape Epic stage victory and presumably a two-hour shower after the stage, was naturally over the moon with the day’s result.

“It’s just such a pleasure to ride with Wout,” said Becking. “He was so strong today that in the last 10km, I was shouting, ‘Man, go easy, go easy, because the old man is on the limit.’ It’s my birthday today and we have a Yellow Jersey, which means we don’t have to wash the clothes this afternoon, which is good!”

The ferocious racing was perhaps summed up best by defending champion Matt Beers, who noted on the finish line, “This isn’t an eight-day race, it’s eight, day-races in a row.”

Matt Beers and Howard Grotts of Toyota Specialized 91 during Stage 2

Matt Beers and Howard Grotts of Toyota Specialized 91 finished 4th following Stage 2. Photo by Sam Clark/Cape Epic

Outstanding In Orange

In the Aramex Women’s Category on Stage 2, the race looked at one stage to be between the four top teams – up until Efficient Infiniti SCB SRAM (Vera Looser and Alexis Skarda) suffered a mechanical on Wagon Trail, causing them to lose valuable minutes.

For long stretches of the day, the women’s race was a tussle between GHOST Factory Racing, Cannondale Factory Racing and Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne (Sofia Gomez Villafane and Samara Sheppard), with all six riders taking turns to do the work on the front.

Villafane and Sheppard dropped off the lead going up the final climb of the day, allowing Lill, Mittenwallner, Terpstra and Koller to race down the Wagon Trail descent together.

Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne's Sofia Gomez Villafane

Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne take a 3rd on the podium. Photo by Sam Clark/Cape Epic

Lill, having punctured earlier in the day and then overinflating her tyre, suffered another puncture at the bottom of Wagon Trail. She decided to trust the ‘noodle’ inside the tyre instead of repairing the puncture, which meant she was unable to race too hard in the closing stages. This allowed Terpstra and Koller to attack and pull away with around 3km to go, adding further daylight between them and Cannondale Factory Racing on the stage and in the General Classification.

Having fallen behind on the descent, Villafane and Sheppard upped their pace on the home stretch and finished strongly to claim third place on the day.

Anne Terpstra, team GHOST Factory Racing

GHOST Factory Racing’s Anne Terpstra, one half of the Stage 2 leaders. Photo by Sam Clark/Cape Epic

“I thought we paced that stage very well,” said Anne Terpstra. “We knew most of the stage quite well after racing here previously, so we had a very good idea of what to expect. I must admit, though, I thought the finish was close after the final descent … but we still had quite a bit to ride!”

Koller added, “It was a nice day. A tough day. A hot day. But our planning worked out and we are very happy to stay in the Orange Jerseys.”

Ever upbeat, Lill was able to laugh about her flat tyre issues. “We still had a good day, despite two silly punctures. It wasn’t ideal chasing back and we lost some energy, but all in all, we are still happy with the performance. We are right up there with lots of riding to come.”

Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic is a 94km trek from Saronsberg Cellar in Tulbagh to Wellington, another region famed for its twisting and turning singletrack trails. The racing, much like the weather forecast, promises to be hot.

Absa Cape Epic Stage 2 podium

The Mens UCI Stage 2 podium. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic


Men Stage 2

  1. Wout Alleman & Hans Becking (BUFF – MEGAMO) 4:05:22
  2. Nino Schurter & Sebastian Fini (World Bicycle Relief) 4:07:24
  3. Georg Egger & Lukas Baum (ORBEA Leatt Speed Company) 4:07:29

Men’s GC after Stage 2

  1. Wout Alleman & Hans Becking (BUFF – MEGAMO) 8:48:20
  2. Nino Schurter & Sebastian Fini (World Bicycle Relief) + 32
  3. Matt Beers & Howard Grotts (Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne) + 1:52

Women Stage 2

  1. Anne Terpstra & Nicole Koller (GHOST Factory Racing) 5:11:00
  2. Candice Lill & Mona Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory Racing) 5:11:07
  3. Sofia Gomez Villafane & Samara Sheppard (Toyota-Specialized-Ninetyone) 5:11:25

Women’s GC after Stage 2

  1. Anne Terpstra & Nicole Koller (GHOST Factory Racing) 10:51:27
  2. Candice Lill & Mona Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory Racing) + 1:13
  3. Sofia Gomez Villafane & Samara Sheppard (Toyota-Specialized-Ninetyone) +6:37

How to Watch

To watch the racing action unfold, tune in to the daily live broadcast on the Epic Series’ YouTube channel, from Sunday, 17 March. Fans of mountain biking can also share in the excitement of the race by following @capeepic on Instagram or by liking the Cape Epic Facebook page. For more information please visit www.epic-series.com/capeepic or click here to view the full 2024 race register.