Winners of the Pro Women's cat Team 91-Songo-Specialized Sina Frei (C-L) and Laura Stigger (C-R) celebrate during the Prolog of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Photo: Kim Ludbrook/EPA
Winners of the Pro Women's cat Team 91-Songo-Specialized Sina Frei (C-L) and Laura Stigger (C-R) celebrate during the Prolog of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Photo: Kim Ludbrook/EPA

Swiss-Austrian debutants Sina Stigger and Laura Frei win Absa Cape Epic Prologue

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Oct 18, 2021

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Cape Town - Sina Frei and Laura Stigger (NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized), both riding in the Absa Cape Epic for the first time, laid down an impressive marker during Sunday’s 20km Prologue.

The Swiss-Austrian combo rode serenely and smoothly in wet and slippery conditions to claim the top spot on the Absa Cape Epic Prologue podium in a time of 54:08.6.

The Table Mountain based Prologue is a fast and furious affair, with non-stop climbing and one or two technical descents. Frei and Stigger had no issues with the ups nor the downs.

Mud-splattered by the finish, the pair were delighted with their efforts. “It was tough out there today thanks to the weather, but we are used to those conditions from some of our recent XCO rides, so we handled it well,” said Stigger.

Frei added, “We are very happy with the result, but we know there are seven hard days to come. Today went well, though. It was very good for us, and we both felt great throughout the day. We kept up a good speed and we communicated well - so hopefully we keep that up over the next few days.”

The all-South African pair of Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss (Faces CST) claimed the second spot on the Prologue podium, finishing in 55:41, around 90 seconds behind NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized. The pair were relaxed, throughout. They finished the 20km race all smiles and ready to move on to the longer stages.

In third, it was Ariane Lüthi & Robyn de Groot (Salusmed). Lüthi, a three-time winner in the Elite women’s race, and De Groot looked comfortable throughout the Prologue, which is not generally the strength of the two renowned marathon riders.

The pair will be serious contenders at the 2021 Absa Cape Epic, with their third-place Prologue finish setting them up nicely to attack in the coming days.

The Absa Cape Epic is the world’s premier mountain bike stage race.

With seven days of gruelling mountain bike riding to come, the Prologue was a relatively gentle start to the 2021 event, with all finishers pleased to tick off a stage that can sometimes provide curveballs.

Monday's Stage 1 will see the field travel to Ceres for a 98km ride (with 1850m of climbing) featuring the cheerfully named Death Drop and Dead Man Walking trails.

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