Eleventh on the final stage for a 12th overall and second place in the Absa African Jersey competition.
It was a fitting full circle for Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell of NAD Pro MTB as they finished the 13th Absa Cape Epic at Meerendal Wine Farm, the same venue where their #8DaysOfCourage journey started a week ago.
â€œDarren and Waylon were really strong so we are obviously just glad to take a second in African Jersey competition,â€ Bell said after the final stage.
â€œIâ€™ve been a little bit off form with a niggling back injury and then a bit of a chest infection, so we were just happy to nurse it home,â€ he contended. â€œGawie has been really strong and patient with me so we are just happy to get to the finish.â€
â€œThe Epic is a race of attrition so you have to make it through healthy and in one piece,â€ CombrinckÂ explained. â€œUnfortunately it didnâ€™t go exactly according to plan, with the health issues and an early mechanical on the first day,â€ he said, explaining that they are still well chuffed with their result.
Combrinck highlighted Stage 2 out of Saronsberg Wine Estate through the Witzenberg Valley around Tulbagh his favourite stage of the 2016 race. â€œThat was really awesome, but we also really enjoyed yesterday,â€ he said.
Ironically the duo are better known as marathon specialists but posted their best results on the shorted stages â€“ more suited to the cross country specialists â€“ and enjoyed those the most.
â€œThe Epic this year was shorter and sharper with a bit more technical riding,â€ said Bell. â€œNothing too hectic – everything was pretty rideable so itâ€™s not like you had to be a cross country specialist to ride it.â€
According to Bell the starts each day were really challenging: â€œThe pace was really hot from the start, which it the most difficult of the whole race,â€ he said.
And, the question everyone always asks first – will they be back next year? â€œAfter the Epic everyone always says, â€˜ah, Iâ€™m not sure, and then a week later they start talking about it againâ€™,â€ Bell joked. Look out for NAD Pro MTB at all the major SA Marathon races and, at the 2017 Absa Cape Epic.