Hodeg takes opener at Catalunya; early drama at Cape Epic: Daily News Digest

by Neal Rogers

March 20, 2018

In today’s Daily News Digest: Colombian sprinter Alvaro Hodeg takes opening stage at Volta Catalunya; Italian sprinters sweep Stage 2 podium at Langkawi as Astana’s Minali takes race lead; Greipel shares disappointment over lost opportunities after collarbone plated with 10 screws; Cape Epic: Cannondale men win Stage 1; Specialized women in control; Schurter loses bid for Cape Epic repeat after Stirnemann is forced to abandon; Tire problems see Hincapie, Vande Velde lose Masters category lead at Cape Epic; Austin bomber injures cyclists with tripwire; Video: Why isn’t cycling normal in London?

Schurter loses bid for Cape Epic repeat after Stirnemann is forced to abandon

by CyclingTips

World cross-country champion — and defending Cape Epic winner — Nino Schurter will ride the remainder of the 2018 Absa Cape Epic alone after his Scott-SRAM teammate Matthias Stirnemann was forced to abandon on Stage 1 due to illness. Because the Cape Epic is contested by two-rider teams, Schurter is unable to defend his 2017 title, though he can continue alone in a “leopard jersey,” so designated for UCI-registered riders who have lost their teammates during the race and decided to continue as individual.

Stirnemann struggled with illness overnight, which affected him so badly during the stage he was treated for severe dehydration. The two won the 2017 Absa Cape Epic in grand style, with Schurter admitting that the win had come a year earlier than they had expected. The win was the first victory in a perfect year for Schurter as he went on to win all six round of the UCI World Cup and the World Championships in Cairns. As they crossed the line in Robertson, Schurter put his hand on the back of his teammate for the courage he had shown in getting to the line on the tough first stage. “Matthias was very sick last night and could not keep anything down,” Schurter said. “He wasn’t able to carry on, but I will for sure keep on going.”

Likewise, Esther Süss, defending champion in the women’s race, will continue alone after her Meerendal CBC partner Angelika Tazreite dislocated her shoulder in a crash Monday, coming together with another rider. It has been hard going for Süss after her teammate from 2017, Jennie Stenerhag, injured her leg the week before the Absa Cape Epic and had to withdraw. Süss, a two-time winner, is taking part in her ninth Absa Cape Epic.

“I feel so sorry for Angelika to have to go out like that,” said Süss. “It just hasn’t been my year, but the Absa Cape Epic is a special race and, for me, it is a race I love. Even though I am not competing for the title this year, I can use the race as the best training for the rest of the season, riding on some of the best trails in the world.”
Both riders will move a few starting spots back, lining up with a batch behind the elite men’s and women’s groups; they will not be allowed to race with the elites.