The race, the biggest of its kind in the world, will offer both local and international mountain biking enthusiasts the opportunity to participate in an eight day mountain bike race of 718km up approximately 14 850m of climbing, with the final stage again finishing at Lourensford Wine Estate.
Schurter has won the World Cup overall three times and has eleven World Cup wins to his name. He is a two time Olympic medallist, and also a silver medallist at the 2011 Cross-country World Championships and the Under 23 World Champion twice. He is also four-times Cross-country European Champion and 6 times Swiss Champion. Buys, on the other hand, is the current African Cross-country Champion, the 2013 South African Cross-country Champion and has 4 Absa Cape Epics under his belt.
Says Schurter “We’re racing together for the first time and I’m really looking forward to it. Philip is a great guy and a great talent. His experiences on stage races in the South African heat and my experiences in cross-country races will make us super strong. Our goal is to win the race. You always need a little bit of luck to successfully complete the Absa Cape Epic.” Buys adds that he feels honored to ride with the fastest rider on the planet. “I’m slightly nervous, but my excitement overpowers the nervousness. And I feel confident! We have great support, ride the best equipment and are training hard, so we're making sure our chances are good.”
With regards to training together, Schurter comments: “We’re doing training camps in Stellenbosch. My training is different to that of previous years. I’m focusing more on stage races in the first half of the year, so I'm training more on long distance.” Buys comments: “In previous years, the Absa Cape Epic just formed part of my buildup for the rest of the season. This year, the event is a peak of my 2014 season with preparations starting a few weeks earlier.”
Schurter has not studied the route, but says, the “Absa Cape Epic routes are always tough, but our combined skills and experience will make us one of the favourite teams for first place.” Buys reckons “Racing is unpredictable and it’s best to take it day by day. We both have a few years’ experience racing the Absa Cape Epic and I think we’re both very efficient bike riders - efficiency is key to winning this race”.
Schurter will never forget his first Absa Cape Epic: “During my first event in 2010 I bonked while in the lead with Florian Vogel on the last 10km of a stage. This experience I will never forget.” Buys concludes: “My highlight is definitely sprinting for the stage win with Matthys (Beukes) on the final day at last year’s Absa Cape Epic! I think this year’s race will be an enjoyable experience and the more fun we have, the less the pain will be and the better our result will be. I’m excited for the challenge!”
Lourensford Wine Estate will once again host the finish of the race and The Grand Finale celebrations on 30 March 2014. The Grand Finale will include the Liqui-Fruit Vineyard Trail and MTB races (http://www.vineyard-races.co.za/vr/), live entertainment, a Farmer’s Market, delectable food and wine, as well as glorious scenery. Absa Cape Epic vantage points will be accessible to the general public, so that all can enjoy the mountain biking action. There will also be a Kids Zone offering fun activities such as a cycling race, jumping castles, games, face painting and more. Entrance is free.