It doesn't matter how I disappointed I felt at the news that Ironman took over the Cape Epic, I can't but help myself to be totally engrossed and excited for this year's race.
The women change in combinations in the women's field will bring an exciting race. I would still love Ariane Luthi to take the overall title. She is an incredible rider, down to earth and races her heart out! This year she will be teaming up with Adel Morath from Germany who rode her first epic last year with Sally Bigham. Adel is quite light and got blown over when the helicopter followed them closely last year. Annika Langvad is finishing her studies in Denmark so Ariane and Adel will compete as Team Spur! This will be the first year that Team Spur will have a back-up team in the race.
Malcolm Lange team owner of Team Ascendis Health flew in the legendary Sabine Spitz who competed for the first time last year to race with Robyn de Groot. De Groot raced with Jennie Stenerhag last year, Jennie had to abandon the race after experiencing an extremely high heartrate which she later needed an operation for. The combination of De Groot and Spitz signals danger for all of the other teams. De Groot has been hungry for victory and Spitz's appetite got whet last year as she finished on the podium last year and got the hang of stage racing towards the end of the week. She also loves the heat which will definitely count in her favour!
Jennie Stennerhag is racing for Meerendal Cape Town Brewing Company with experienced and previous winner, Ester Suss from Switzerland. It will be interesting to see what the two of them can do.
Team Dorma Kaba features local girl and Olympian Candice Lill and Namibian Vera Adrian. They have been racing together before and did extremely well in the Tankwa Trek which serves as a good training ground for the Epic. Lill also won the Tour of Good Hope road tour two weeks ago. They are in good form and it will be great to see what the all African team will do in this year's race.
The men's field is back to the Epic battle for 6 Epic victories between Karl Platt and Christoph Sauser. Sauser is such a force to reckon with that even being retired from racing puts him right up there in contention again. Jaroslav Kulhavy asked him to be his partner and Sauser couldn't resist the challenge. My question is, why not? He has won it five times, twice with Jaro and he rides actively with the young guns he coaches and is an allround walking legend. My heart skipped a beat of excitement when I saw the news.
Manual Fumic will be back racing on their Cannondales with Brazilian, Avancini and I think they might have their eyes on a stage win or 2.
Jose Hermida, the funniest Spaniard and great character are back after a year's break to race with road cyclist Joaquim Rodriguez from Bahrain Merida (also the new team of Vincenzo Nibali and Louis Meintjes) road team.
Team Scott SRAM brought Nino Schurter current Olympic Champion and rising star Mathias Stirnemann as their lead team. If they can win the overall title we will have to see, but they will surely fight it out! Mathias is in my opinion Nino's strongest team mate for the Epic and that makes me excited.
Since Erik Kleinhans joined Team Topeak Ergon I really hope there bad luck has run out now and that Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek will get a fair shot at the podium. They have the charasmatic team of Jeremiah Bishop and Erik Kleinhans to support them.
South Africans Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes are now racing on local designed Pyga bikes and they will sure hope to mix it up in the African Jersey race with Waylon Woolcock who will be teaming up with roadie HB Kruger this year and NAD Pro Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck.
Further exciting news is that young Jenny Rissveds, Olympic Champion also from Scott SRAM will be racing with legend and team manager Thomas Frischnecht.
No-one can say that the Epic doesn't have an exciting line-up.
Good luck to everyone racing! Hang in there and keep on pedalling!
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