The pre-race favourites will be Team Investec-Songo-Specialized’s Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy, two of the most decorated mountain bikers ever and winners in 2013, the only previous Absa Cape Epic they have raced together.
Switzerland’s Sauser has won the Absa Cape Epic four times over the years and is also a former cross country and marathon world champion. Czech Kulhavy is the current Olympic cross country champion, and world marathon champion.
They will, however, face perhaps the strongest field the Absa Cape Epic has ever seen. It will include the other four-time winner, Karl Platt. The German will be riding with Swiss strongman Urs Huber in Team Bulls again this year. They were in superb form in the 2014 race before Platt crashed, injured a knee and had to withdraw. He will again be motivated by a desire to become the first rider to win five times.
Another heavy-hitting pair will be Topeak Ergon’s Kristian Hynek and Alban Lakata. Hynek, from the Czech Republic, won in 2014 with German Robert Mennen, but has teamed up with super powerful Austrian Lakata – known by his competitors as “The Albanator” – this year.
Another pair of potential winners is the Meerendal Centurion-Vaude pairing of Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kaess. This talented team, both German, were leading in 2014 when a mechanical ruled them out on Stage 2. They are highly regarded by their fellow competitors as strong contenders.
And adding some spice to the battle at the front of the field will be the spirited Multivan Merida team of José Hermida and Rudi van Houts. The popular Spanish/Dutch duo are highly talented riders who have been unlucky in previous years - watch them on the Prologue for a taste of what is to come. Hermida also happens to be one of the most humorous people you could hope to meet!
With such a strong field, the top all-South African teams will do well to finish in the top five and most will probably race for the Absa African special jersey. The leading challengers will come from RECM’s Erik Kleinhans and Nico Bell, Scott Factory Racing’s Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes, and Biogen/Volcan’s Kevin Evans and Max Knox. Also in the mix will be Epic first timers; current South African cross country champion Rourke Croesser and partner Travis Walker of team Full-Dynamix PRO.