Sunday, December 17, 2017
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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.

“Darren and Waylon were really strong so we are obviously just glad to take a second in African Jersey competition,” Bell said after the final stage.

“I’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,” he contended. “Gawie has been really strong and patient with me so we are just happy to get to the finish.”

“The Epic is a race of attrition so you have to make it through healthy and in one piece,” Combrinck  explained. “Unfortunately it didn’t go exactly according to plan, with the health issues and an early mechanical on the first day,” 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. “That was really awesome, but we also really enjoyed yesterday,” he said.

Ironically the duo are better known as marathon specialists but posted their best results on the shorted stages – more suited to the cross country specialists – and enjoyed those the most.

“The Epic this year was shorter and sharper with a bit more technical riding,” said Bell. “Nothing too hectic – everything was pretty rideable so it’s not like you had to be a cross country specialist to ride it.”

According to Bell the starts each day were really challenging: “The pace was really hot from the start, which it the most difficult of the whole race,” he said.

And, the question everyone always asks first – will they be back next year? “After the Epic everyone always says, ‘ah, I’m not sure, and then a week later they start talking about it again’,” Bell joked. Look out for NAD Pro MTB at all the major SA Marathon races and, at the 2017 Absa Cape Epic.

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