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Howard Grotts and Matt Beers charge into Cape Epic lead

Howard Grotts and Matt Beers charge into Cape Epic lead

Cape Epic is gearing up for a massive final weekend of racing and, after Friday’s finish, U.S./South African duo Howard Grotts and Matt Beers are suddenly in the drivers seat. The Specialized duo added a stage win to their leader’s jersey’s on Stage 5 while Nino Schurter and Sebastian Fini, their closest rivals, struggled.

While the power balance of the men’s race continues to shift, the women’s field continued to search for a way to disrupt the dominance of Ghost Factory Racing. Anne Terpstra and Nicole Koller earned a sixth-straight stage win to keep an impressive Cape Epic undefeated streak alive.

Cannondale Factory Racing continues to hunt, unsuccessfully, for a way to shake off Ghost Factory Racing. Photo: Sam Clark/Cape Epic

Ghost Factory Racing haunts women’s field

No matter what Cannondale and Specialized try throwing at Anne Terpstra and Nicole Koller, the leading duo remain unshaken in their command of the women’s Cape Epic this year. On Friday, the Ghost Factory team survived another 70-km of racing by marking, then attacking the Cannondale Factory Team. That left Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne’s Sofia Gomez-Villafane and Samara Sheppard struggling to hold the pace.

Specialized would eventually lose over three minutes on the day while the Cannondale racers, XCM world championships first and second place finishers Mona Mitterwallner and Candice Lill, held on until the closing kilometres of the stage. There, Ghost attacked again to gain another 20 seconds advantage and another stage win.

“I think everybody expected us to attack where we attacked,” said Terpstra after the stage. “But we thought we’d just try and see  if we can get a gap. It was not necessarily the goal to gain more time, but more to come through safely and not  take any risks.” 

While the duo hail from Switzerland and the Netherlands, they train over winter in South Africa. That, says Nicole Koller, gives them something of a local’s advantage.

“We love these trails. We’ve also trained here before. I already knew them a little bit so it was very cool to  be out there riding on something we knew; they are so flowy and totally like cross-country style riding – great  fun.” 

The pair have two more days of racing left to defend their lead and, while they have looked rock solid so far, anything can happen in the Cape Epic.

Leatt Speed Company are struggling to recapture the speed that saw them finish second in 2023. Photo: Sam Clark/Cape…

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