The Swiss brother team of Lukas and Mathias Flueckiger wrapped up their debut start at the world famous Absa Cape Epic stage race in South Africa at the weekend with an emphatic win on the final stage. Completing the entire event on their Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL full suspension race machines, the pair were thrilled to take the win in front of an enormous crowd, the largest to witness a win by either rider since they started racing more than 10 years ago.
The Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL bike demonstrated that full suspension can be a legitimate contender in a stage race such as the Cape Epic. Mathias was quick to note, “The full suspension bike weighs so little and provides an excellent performance gain...at 21lbs. and 100mm of travel, it was definitely the way to go for this event.”
With the first round of the UCI World Cup in just 2 weeks, in Pietermaritzburg, both riders felt that an overall win in their first attempt at the Cape Epic, would not be realistic or ideal. 19 year old Mathias found the first few days a little tougher than his 24 year old brother, but by the end of the week had found his legs and was giving Lukas someone to chase!
The win came despite a couple of mishaps along the route. The first came while leading at around 30km into the 60km stage, when they took a wrong turn by accident. After 30 seconds of not seeing any course signage, they turned back to find that their lead over 2nd place team DCM Chrome had evaporated. The next came about 7km later when coming to a compulsory walking stage (through a national reserve). The brothers walked further than necessary and were caught again by DCM Chrome. At the 45km mark the pair put in some strong riding with DCM Chrome, and these two teams put a larger gap into the main GC group, then with 5km to go in a sandy gravel section, put the power down to head onto a 15 second win, and 11 minutes to third place.
Lukas Flueckiger – “This was a great way for us to finish the week. We had so much bad luck earlier in the week with punctures and other little things, especially when we were feeling so good….so it was great to finally get a result that matched how we felt. To cross the finish line with my brother is so much more meaningful than crossing the line by myself, and that’s what I really like about the Cape Epic format. I’ll be back for sure”.
Mathias Flueckiger – “The start of the race was super tough for me. I came from a Swiss winter of freezing temperatures straight into a prologue on day 1 which was in 40 degrees Celsius. I was really in shock. Only on day 3 did I find my usual rhythm and was able to support Lukas. We took it easy on Thursday, stage 5, and after that I was ready to have a go at a stage win. For me I think the final stage in any tour is the most prestigious to win, so to do that, and with my brother, was really amazing”.
Road Manager, Paul Schlitz – “I’m so happy that the guys were able to pull off this win. They came here for a week of hard training and with the hope of getting a stage win or two. To win in front of a huge crowd on the final day, was a great feeling for the whole team. They’re the greatest riders to work with, really on the ball and super professional, and I’m very happy for them”.
1st – Trek World Racing (L.Flueckiger/M.Flueckiger) – 2hrs 36mins 19.3secs
2nd – DCM Chrome (B.Stewardt/M.Knox) – 2hrs 36mins 44.8secs
3rd – Multivan Merida (H.Genze/J.Kaess) – 2hrs 40mins 39.8secs
1st – Bulls (K.Platt/S.Sahm) : 28hrs 10mins 13.8secs
2nd – Trek-Brentjens (B.Brentjens/C.Jongewaard) : 28hrs 15mins 07.9secs
3rd – Felt Factory 2 (E.Lindgren/A.Kugler) : 28hrs 28mins 42.6secs
8th – Trek World Racing (L.Flueckiger/M.Flueckiger) : 29hrs 51mins 42.6secs