Absa #ConquerAsOne Moment – Cape Epic Stage 4
Carrying the weight of a nation on their shoulders as the first riders to compete for Jordan at the Absa Cape Epic, Shukri el Husseini and Majed Dirsiyeh proved to be inspiring ambassadors on Stage 3 after a day of drama on the Groenlandberg.
Being well prepared for the event the two have comfortably finished each stage but, on Wednesday, were struck with cruel luck and suffered three punctures on the descent down the infamous mountain.
At one point they lost sight of each other as Majet suffered his third puncture. Shukri had to turn around and climb back up the Alpe d’Huez of the Absa Cape Epic to assist and wasting more valuable time.
Running out of tubes and options, they eventually realised that their only chance of finishing was to run the 3km to the nearest tech zone and water point. But time was running out. Showing great teamwork they shared the running responsibilities while the other partner recovered on the bike between running stints. Eventually the two made it to the water point missing cut-off by a minute.
“The tech crew did a great job fixing the wheel but we had to ride hard to try and avoid the cut-off at the finish,” an exhausted Majed said. “I was running out of energy and even fell on the singletrack leaving my bike hanging in a tree.”
“It was very emotional when I saw the 5km mark and we knew had a chance of finishing.”
The two raced to the line making the final cut-off by just over five minutes after 9 hours and 54 minutes of riding. High-fiving everyone on the finish straight the two paid tribute to sweep Richard McMartin who had kept on encouraging them.
McMartin, along with Rob Vogel, are the two race sweeps known as The Hyenas, who follow the race from the back to ensure safety and help organisers track riders at the back of the field. They are not able to physically assist the riders but often their encouragement is what helps riders achieve the seemingly impossible.
“Richard kept telling me that I could do it. He was really great… although we hope we never see the hyenas again,” Majed quipped.
McMartin was equally inspired by the way in which the two Jordanians had worked together: “When cut-off is looming the decision is often made for one rider to go ahead. But these two would have none of that… they shared the running and pushed each other. It was pretty amazing to see and great to see them make it.”