”We noticed some big improvements in the way our riders rode and attacked today which makes me very happy. They listened to my race advice of yesterday and it showed in their times Exxaro team mentor Justice Makhale commented at the end of one of the toughest and muddiest days at the 2014 Absa Cape Epic.
Riders were confronted with pouring rain and the resulting mud made the going even tougher. ”The last few days have been very up and down for us but the bad days are gone, the rain is gone and we are closing in on the Exxaro jersey,” according to Exxaro team manager Brandon Whiteley. Thokhozani Mahlangu’s condition has worsened giving team management the comfort that is was a good call rather to withdraw him from the race.
Despite the horrid conditions, Stage 2 proved to be the best day so farfor the Exxaro Academy. All the Exxaro teams have settled in and are focussed on the job at hand.
Surprisingly the Exxaro/Tronox team of Nare Manamela and his partner Lucky Mlangeni were the first Exxaro team to roll into the finish at Stage 2.
The Exxaro duo managed to reel back five minutes on the current Exxaro jersey leaders team Meerendal Songo Speciliazed. “Lucky and I decided onthe 15th of February that it would be our personal goal to make Exxaro proud and wear the leader jersey at the Epic this year, this motivated us to pedal a little bit harder in the mud; we are both so so happy, Manamela said with a massive smile.
“I knew when I heard the rain drops on my tent in the night that Stage 2 was going to be very hard, it was not just the climbs but the mud as well we would have to survive,” commented Nare Manamela. “It was like my bike was not moving forward through some of the mud sections,” he added.
Prince Maseko showed real heart and dedication in the wet conditions starting from C batch on his own after Mahlangu’s withdrawal, to finish only minutes behind his fellow A batch team mates. Maseko said “My motivation was to ride for my team mates and try to help my fellow Exxaro riders.”
According to Whiteley, Stage 2 and the weather did not only take its toll on the riders but the bikes as well. “I am really happy we did not have any major bike issues on route today but we will have to wash all the bikes down and inspect them one by one. “The main concerns are the chains and the brakes,” said Whiteley.
The Exxaro women had a good ride and was smooth sailing compared to the carnage some other raiders suffered on the day. “I am feeling very good on my new bike and was very happy how it handled in the muddy conditions,” said Rozalia Kubwana riding on a loan bike after her bike was stolen in the night before Stage 1.
Source: Purple Pine PR