VIDEO: Cyclist hits antelope in Cape Epic, South Africa
Tuesday 19 Mar 2013 9:27 a.m.
The opening stage of the 2013 Cape Epic sent the field on a 96-kilometre loop that started and finished in the town of Citrusdal and included 2350 metres of climbing.
Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy were looking to consolidate the overall lead having set the fastest time in the 22-kilometre prologue.
The race came to a premature and painful end for Germany's Robert Mennen.
The Topeak Ergon Racing was sent flying over his handlebars after hitting a charging antelope and broke his collarbone in the crash.
There was also misfortune - although not on the same scale - for Burry Stander-Songo riders Sauser and Kulhavy.
Sauser, who had won two of his three Cape Epic titles with the now departed Stander, broke the rim of his wheel after hitting a rock while on the descent.
The Swiss and his Czech partner Kulhavy had to wait for a sister team to donate a wheel, losing two minutes and 50 seconds and, as a result, the overall lead to their competitors.
The Multivan Merida, Bulls and Bulls 2 teams pedalled on towards the finishing line and the overall leaders' yellow jerseys.
Multivan Merida duo Jose Hermida and Rudi van Houts upped the pace on a two-kilometre sandy section and dropped the two Bulls teams.
They went on to win the stage in four hours, 30 minutes and 56.7 seconds, with Karl Platt and Urs Huber of Bulls talking second place one minute, 20.9 seconds behind.
Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme of Bulls 2 finished in third place, with Sauser and Kulhavy battling back to take fourth.
Hermida and van Houts also moved into the overall lead, where they hold a one-minute, 42.3-second advantage over Sauser and Kulhavy
Esther Suess and Jane Nuessli of the BMC Wheeler team were the fastest ladies pair on stage one, finishing almost 30 minutes ahead of Yolande Speedy and Catherine Williamson of Energas.
As a result, Swiss rider Suess - who won last year's ladies' title with Sally Bigham - and Briton Nuessli extended their race lead to 32 minutes and 47 seconds, with South African Speedy and Briton Williamson also second overall.