The Czech-Austrian ensemble of the Topeak-Ergon Racing Team joyously await the first season highlight as does the backup team of Erik Kleinhans and Jeremiah Bishop and the entire crew of the Koblenz racing stable. They all harbor measured respect for the massive undertaking at the Cape over 691 kilometers and 15.400 meters altitude difference.
Winning is naturally a goal for the highly decorated pairing, even at the most magical mountain bike stage race of all. However, as the duo Lakata/Hynek very well knows: The Cape Epic is a wild horse, “untamed,” as it was dubbed by the organizers at its inception. Heat, wind, dust, thorns and stones are unfriendly companions who can throw you very quickly off the saddle.
“Sure, we want to win. But we still have to be realistic. The competition is extremely tough and therefore, it would still be a success if we would stand on the podium at the end,” reveals Kristian. Alban refrains entirely for now: “No, I don’t like to talk about a goal. We never had good luck with that beforehand.”
It’s understandable with regard to 2016, because all the dreams of the title ended after a mere 4 days due to Kristian’s fall and subsequent injuries. “There are 8 very rough days ahead of us,” notes Alban. The Austrian “recovered pretty quickly,” as he says, from the Andalucia Bike Race. “I think it was perfect training and I hope the knot broke now. I feel better now at any rate.”
They still want to approach the Cape Epic modestly, so not to push too hard right at the beginning. The race is not won in the first few days. The infamous Groenland Mountain, a lengthy climb of about 20 kilometers, is putting itself in the way on the second to last day this year. You can sense a careful optimism from Kristian as well. “I feel very well prepared and I look forward to the race,” he says. The five weeks since the Tankwa Trek went well all in all according to the Czech.
If it were up to us, it could start now…
The 2017 Route
|Prologue||Meerendal||26 km/750 hm|
|Stage 1||Hermanus–Hermanus||101 km/2300 hm|
|Stage 2||Hermanus–Elandskloof||102 km/2350 hm|
|Stage 3||Elandskloof–Elandskloof||78 km/1650 hm|
|Stage 4||Elandskloof–Oak Valley||112 km/2150 hm|
|Stage 5||Oak Valley–Oak Valley||84 km/2100 hm|
|Stage 6||Oak Valley–Oak Valley||103 km/2750 hm|
|Stage 7||Oak Valley–Val de Vie/Paarl||85 km/1350 hm|