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Image credit: Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

The Women’s category is bound to be as exciting as the Men’s this year. Both Süss and Bigham have many accolades to their names. Süss is a two-time winner, once in the Mixed and once in the Women’s category. She started riding in 1998 and was crowned Marathon World Champion in 2010. Süss won a silver medal (2009) and three bronze medals (2011, 2012, 2013) at the Marathon World Championships. In 2013, she also won a bronze medal at the Cross-Country World Championships, and became Swiss Cyclist of the Year for the second time (first in 2010). At 38, she placed 5th in the London Olympics, racing against women 10 years younger and more. Her European history includes a gold medal at the 2008 and 2010 European Marathon Championships as well as a silver medal at the 2012 Cross-country European Championships.

Bigham holds two Absa Cape Epic wins, both in the Women’s category. She has won the British National Marathon Championship four times, and the Transalp twice (2012, 2013). She finished in second place in the World Marathon Championships in 2012 and 2013 and placed first Overall in the 2011 UCI World Marathon Rankings. She won the Andalucia Bike Race in both 2011 and 2012. She has won 8 Absa Cape Epic stages in her career.

Bigham holds a PHD degree and started mountain biking in 2006. “I started for fun and then it took over. I really like the Absa Cape Epic. It’s an iconic race and a real adventure. It’s all about suffering and fortunately I like to suffer. I’ve been preparing well and Esther is the perfect partner for me. We’ll give it 100% and see what we can do.” Süss adds: “Of course it’s nice to win a stage, but it’s better to win the overall!”

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Image credit: Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

With regards to their training together, Bigham comments: “We raced the Absa Cape Epic together and won in 2012 and we've raced against each other plenty of times in solo races, so we don't need to train together so much. We’ll ride together the week before the start of the event.” Süss adds: “Sally is from Great Britain and I’m from Switzerland, Sally is also professional and I’m only semi-professional. I work as a teacher, so we’ll hardly ever train together.”

Süss believes it is paramount to work as a team. Bigham reckons good preparation and a strong mind is very important in this race. “I really look forward to the atmosphere. I love it, and of course the amazing scenery and places that we'll visit.” Adds Süss: “I’m also really excited to see the racing in the women’s category this year.”

In 2010, 2011 and 2012 Bigham rode a hardtail 26er. “This year I’ll be riding a full suspension 29er. Bikes have changed a lot since 2010 and my new Canyon Lux is light and fast. Riding this bike leaves me feeling less tired at the end of the stages which means I can give more the next day.” Süss has been riding Wheeler in all her Absa Cape Epic events.

Bigham is of the opinion that the Absa Cape Epic is “addictive” and says she does not balance training and her private life. She hopes for health and happiness in 2014, as well as “medals at big championship races including the Worlds and Europeans”.

Süss says: “I’d really like to win the Absa Cape Epic with Sally, and also to win a medal at the World Championship Marathon in Pietermaritzburg and at the World Cross-country Champs in Norway.”