The now retired riders sealed their overall title as they won the seventh stage of the race into Val de Vie in Paarl in the masters category. While Evans had a successful mountain bike career before making the switch to the road and winning the Tour, the race was a new experience for Hincapie.
Coming into the final stage, Evans and Hincapie were over three minutes down on Team Orbea’s Tomi Misser and Ibon Zugasti in second place and with Bart Brentjens and Abraao Azevedo (CST Sandd American Eagle) hot on their heels at just three seconds.
“We didn’t have many time checks so we didn’t really know where we were,” said Evans “We knew we were at least three or four minutes up but you can’t be sure until you cross the line, so we just kept the pressure on right to the line.
“George had a bad moment mid-way when we came off on a descent. When he dropped it, it unsettled him a bit … but otherwise, we were pretty good.”
Hincapie explained that with the final stage featuring several sectors of paved road, he opted for a higher tyre pressure than previous days and forgot the fact when transitioning back onto the dirt.
“When we were going downhill on the road, and Cadel was going like 70km/h on the descent, and we turned onto a gravel road. Me. not remembering that I had more air in more tyres, slid out and busted my you know what. That is mountain biking. It is all about traction and control,” Hincapie said of the minor crash.
For Hincapie, the race was also a far tougher endeavor than what he originally anticipating explaining he was physically underdone for the challenge.
“I tell you it was tough. I definitely came in underprepared. I didn’t know it was this hard, but fortunately I got in shape as the race went on,” he said. “I stay relatively fit at home but not by any means for this kind of effort. But of course the body kicked into stage race mode and I just felt better as the race went on. I’d love to be back next year.
“Obviously Cadel and I are now retired riders and we ride for fun now. But definitely, the competitive spirit came out this week. Coming across the line today, we put it all out on the line and even though we are not professional cyclists anymore, we are like the normal cyclists but wins are still important. It was a tough week, tough weeks are tough weeks and suffering is suffering no matter what level you’re at.”
The elite race was won by olympic and world champion Nino Schurter and Scott-SRAM teammate Matthias Stirnemann.