Heading into the final stage of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic, both Stenerhag and Süss were clearly nervous. They had worked so hard and raced so intelligently to lead the Hansgrohe Women’s category ahead of the final stage of the race, but they were all too aware that a potentially dangerous 85 kilometres still separated them from the Grand Finale at Val de Vie Estate. They allowed the stage win chasing de Groot and Spitz, and Strauss and Last to set the pace though much of the stage; which summited the scenic Franschhoek Pass before taking riders through the Drakenstein Correctional Centre. From there, the trails became cruelly sandy, but while the teams of de Groot and Spitz and Strauss and Last distanced Stenerhag and Süss ever so slightly in the final kilometres, their overall victory was never in doubt. Crossing the line 15 seconds after the fourth dramatic sprint finish (which was won by de Groot and Spitz) of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic women’s race, Stenerhag and Süss were elated to be crowned champions of the Hansgrohe Women’s category.
The women’s race was arguably the most dramatic yet, and proved once again that with the support of events like the Absa Cape Epic, and the backing of sponsors like Hansgrohe, Meerendal Wines and Cape Brewing Co, that women’s mountain biking can thrill as a spectator sport. Though the first post-race task for Jennie Stenerhag and Esther Süss is to allow the magnitude of their victory to sink in, followed by enjoying the sensations which come with that; their attention will soon turn to the 2018 Absa Cape Epic and planning their title defence. With the display of racing they and the other elite women put on this year there is no doubt the 2018 women’s field will be stronger than ever. And as the title holders, they will not have the luxury of coming into the race as a dark horse team, but that will not throw the level headed combination off their game plan… 2018 beware, Stenerhag and Süss will be back to defend their Absa Cape Epic title!
Absa Cape Epic | General Classification – Hansgrohe Women’s Category
1) Meerendal CBC: Jennie Stenerhag & Esther Suss (31:39:43.7)
2) Hansgrohe Cadence OMX Pro: Annie Last & Mariske Strauss (+35:19)
3) Ascendis Health: Sabine Spitz & Robyn de Groot (+47:02)
4) Team Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Adeleid Morath (+1:10:05)
5) Hollard-Velocity Sports Lab: Carmen Buchacher & Michelle Vorster (+1:22:59)
6) dormakaba SA: Candice Lill & Vera Adrian (+1:35:17)
7) Meerendal CBC 2: Hielke Elferink & Cornelia Hug (+2:17:33)
8) Merchants: Jeannie Bomford & Samantha Sanders (+2:17:33)
9) LIVBeyond: Fienie Barnard & Dalene van der Leek (+3:42:41)
10) Spur Foundation: Alice Pirard & Sabrina Enaux (+3:54:37)