Anna van der Breggen (left) and Annika Langvad. Picture: RODGER BOSCH/AFP
Anna van der Breggen (left) and Annika Langvad. Picture: RODGER BOSCH/AFP

After eight days and 630km, Annika Langvad became just the third person to claim five Absa Cape Epic titles when she and teammate Anna van der Breggen cruised home to win the final stage and the overall title at Val de Vie in the Western Cape on Sunday.

Denmark’s Langvad is now part of a list that includes Germany’s Karl Platt and Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser.

The men’s title was won by the Swiss pair of Nino Schurter and Lars Forster (Scott-Sram) in a race that was as tight and tough as predicted.

The eighth and final Epic stage is traditionally easier than the others, but the 70km from Stellenbosch to Val de Vie near Paarl still managed to produce an on-the-line sprint finish, which was won by Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez and Ondřej Cink (Kross Spur), with the SA pair of Matthys Beukes and Phil Buys second.

Schurter and Forster cruised home to ensure they would beat Germany’s Manuel Fumic and Brazilian Henrique Avancini (Cannondale) for the overall title by more than seven minutes. Italy’s Damiano Ferraro and Samuele Porro (Trek Selle San Marco) took third.

“This was amazing,” Schurter said after taking his second Epic title. “It’s a really special one to win. It’s really tough to win this race. You need to have a lot of good luck and a strong team. We are super stoked about it.”

Forster said: “Yesterday I was suffering and today I was suffering more. Luckily I had a strong horse with me who still had some left in the tank.” 

Langvad and Van der Breggen (Investec-songo-Specialized) won seven stages on their way to the overall title.

They may just have been the most decorated team to take part in the Epic, with Langvad a five-time world MTB marathon champion and Van der Breggen a world road and Olympic champion.

They broke clear of South African Candice Lill and German Adelheid Morath (Summit Fin) in the final kilometre to ensure they celebrated their win in style.

Lill and Morath were second overall, but still 30 minutes adrift. Four-time Epic winner Ariane Lüthi and Maja Wloszczowska (Kross-Spur) were third on the stage and overall.

“The Absa Cape Epic is always so intense, the ups and downs … it has been so emotional this year. It has been such a good week and I have really enjoyed riding with Anna and forming a new partnership. It has been a blast,” said Langvad.

“Every single time the Absa Cape Epic races are different. Bringing a roadie into the Absa Cape Epic and transforming her into a mountain biker has been so awesome. Watching her improving day by day has been such a great experience.”

“It was a really tough week. It was such a new experience and so nice to do something totally new and see the boundaries where you can push your body,” said Van der Breggen.

“Sometimes I did not like the suffering, but it was such a nice thing to do. I do not think my body has ever been this tired and I do not think I have ever spent so many hours on the bike in one week. It was hard at the beginning, but now I know how it feels to achieve what we did.”

South Africans Theresa Ralph and Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk) comfortably won the Absa African Women’s Jersey, while countrymen Alan Hatherly and Matt Beers (SpecializedFoundationNAD) took fifth overall and the Absa African Men’s Jersey.