A two man team sees Team Topeak Ergon represented at the Cape Epic in South Africa – one of the toughest races in World Wide.  An eight stage legend from Cape Town through the bush in South Africa.  The pair taking this on are Team Topeak Ergon’s Alban Lakata (Austria) and Team Rotwild’s Thomas Nicke (Germany).

The Prologue
The race began with a prologue on Saturday the 21rd March.  Similarly to the big road stage races, this was against the clock.  A 19km course, in the shadow of Table Top Mountain, decided who wore what jersey for the start of the main event.  With a 12th place finish Lakata and Nicke were pleased with their first test against such a strong international representation.  “The course was set out like a cross country race.  The constant change of pace was really tiring, but we got to terms with it quickly – it is the temperature which will take a little more acclimatisation”, Thomas said after the race.



The first stage
On Sunday will see them riding from Gordon’s Bay to Villiersdorp.  It is a 112km effort featuring no less than 2729m of climbing.  It is the hardest test of all, but really just acts as a preview.  Violently rising 500m from the off, for our guys it went pretty much like the prologue did – seeing them finish in 13th place.  Of particular note were the special tyres which Continental had equipped the team with prior to their leaving Europe.  Formulated for the rocky ground, they worked flawlessly, shrugging off the wiry, thorny undergrowth with ease.  “It isn’t easy out there, so I don’t want anyone thinking that it is.  For Thomas, it is his first race of the season.  It isn’t the walk in the park it could be!” Albarn said following the first stage.


The second stage
It was a day beset my problems.  No fewer than five flat tyres saw the Team Topeak Ergon rider Alban Lakata (Austria) and his partner for this event, Team Rotwild’s Thomas Nicke (Germany) slip down the overall classification at the Cape Epic Stage Race in South Africa.  “It was tough today, and the problems caused by the harsh undergrowth meant that the top ten finish which we are sure we have in us, slipped from our grasp” Lakata, Austria’s national marathon champion said, slightly deflated.  The pair finished in 21st place on the 110km Villersdorp course, putting them in 14th overall.  “It was just hard work.  The vegetation out there meant that we were having to work a lot harder on the climbs than I think we are used to” Nicke reported, while having the aches and pains of the day massaged better.

Tomorrow’s stage is 73km shorter, but with 1976 meters of climbing.  Kilometer 20 sees the riders facing what can only be described as a vertical wall for the riders.  Within 5kms, the height gain is a staggering 600m!  The gradient is, in places, a brutal 18 per cent.


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