Image credit: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Sauser has been racing professionally since 1993 and his many accomplishments include being the Marathon World Champion in 2011 and 2007, the Marathon European Champion in 2007, and the Cross-Country World Champion in 2008, apart from being a six times Swiss Champion. He was the UCI World Cup series winner twice, has 14 UCI World Cup victories behind his name and was a bronze medalist at the 2000 Olympics. He has won 30 Absa Cape Epic stages.

Born in Prague, Rabon turned professional in 2006 after having been European U23 road champion the previous season and three times Czech Under 23 time trial champion. He was also the 2010 winner of the 5 stage road race in Spain, Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia. For the 2014 season, Rabon moved into mountain biking with the Specialized Racing Factory Mountain Bike Team.

Participating in his tenth Absa Cape Epic, Sauser looks forward to riding with Rabon for the first time. “I’m really happy that I found a very strong partner in Rabon. He has a great character and personality. He’s also as committed and driven to win the Absa Cape Epic! We’re balanced, fast and experienced. We also have a very strong back-up team in Erik Kleinhans and Nico Bell. Our staff and team setup is fantastic and with Specialized we have the best equipment.” Rabon reckons it is a real honour to participate with Sauser. “He’s such a legend in mountain biking and we became really good teammates. I feel so good about us riding together. Our chances to win are excellent. Christoph won the race four times and I recently proved that I could ride with the best riders. I’ll only improve as we get closer to the Absa Cape Epic. There’s harmony between us and I have the best teacher in the world in Christoph.”

With regards to their chances of an overall win, Sauser comments: “On paper we’ll be one of the favourite amongst many other strong teams, but you can’t win an Absa Cape Epic on paper. So many unexpected scenarios can happen.”

Sauser recently trained with Rabon in Stellenbosch for two weeks. They also competed in the Attakwas Extreme Mountain Bike Challenge - Rabon’s first race in South Africa. Sauser finished second with Rabon coming fourth after an exciting sprint for third with Karl Platt. Sauser jokingly says that Rabon “is going to eat a lot more dust than on the road, but not too much because we would like to win. He will find out that an eight-day mountain bike race in South Africa is much harder then eight days on the road. That is also why he’s coming back prior to the Absa Cape Epic to participate in two more races.” Rabon adds. “I’ve never done the Absa Cape Epic before. I think it’s going to be a great race but a very hard one! Probably something like the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France. I have an idea of what to expect and believe the atmosphere will still blow me away when I’m at the start of the Prologue at Meerendal.”

Sauser will always have fond memories of his late teammate Burry Stander, with whom he won two Absa Cape Epics. “I went through so many good and tough memories with him. From not completing the 2008 race to winning the whole programme!”

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 kick off with live entertainment, a Farmer’s Market, delectable food and wine as well as glorious scenery. Vantage points will be accessible to the general public, so that all may have a piece of the mountain biking action. Entrance is free.