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STAGE 1 of the Absa Cape Epic took place in Oak Valley yesterday: In a day of drama and heavy rain, Christoph Sauser (SUI) Monday laid down a significant marker in his bid to become the first person to win the Absa Cape Epic five times.

The Swiss master and his Czech teammate Jaroslav Kulhavy (Investec-Songo-Specialized) showed great form on the 113km Stage 1 as they overcame a puncture to finish the day almost a minute ahead of Sauser's great rival, Karl Platt of Germany, who is riding with Swiss strongman Urs Huber.

Bad luck struck another of the pre-race favourite teams, Topeak Ergon's defending champion Kristian Hynek of the Czech Republic and Austrian Alban Lakata, when they had to repair two punctures and swop a wheel at a tech zone. They managed, however, to recover and finish fourth, some four minutes behind Sauser and Kulhavy.

The Women's category continued to be dominated by the Swiss/Danish combination of Ariane Kleinhans and Annika Langvad (RECM), who already have a 20-minute gap over their closest challengers.