Five-time winner of the Absa Cape Epic, Karl Platt, will yet again line up with Swiss partner Urs Huber come 18 March at the Prologue on Table Mountain. The BULLS duo will be targeting yet another overall win as a combination – this despite Platt sustaining a fracture to his hipbone and pelvis after a crash during training in November last year.

Karl Platt and Urs Huber of Team BULLS take the lead. Photo credit: Nick Muzik. Absa Cape Epic. Sportzpics.

“I fractured my hip and pelvis in a training ride last year which put me out for a while, but it provided some much-needed rest. I’m starting to feel great again. I had a good Attakwas and despite not finishing higher up the list there was no pain and that is a good thing,” said Platt.

Joining them is the BULLS 2 combination of Tim Boehme and Simon Stiebjahn who are well versed in the tough and demanding nature of the Untamed African MTB Race. This year however, they’ve been promoted from support duties and will be able to race for stage wins – the pair have after all finished on the podium with a bronze medal back in 2014.

And what about back-up and support? Well, the BULLS set-up has brought along another young team to assume that role, an outfit comprising Martin Frey and Simon Schneller who will compete under the BULLS 3 moniker. As rookies, Platt says their primary role will be to support and assist both senior teams should anything go awry as well as to gain experience.

“I hope they (BULLS 2) have a good race this year. It’s a different story and situation for Tim and Simon but they’re now able to ride and race as they feel. If they see a chance they are free to go for it. For support we’ve brought another young team, BULLS 3, and Martin (Frey) and Simon (Schneller) will ride as the dedicated back-up team for us.”

Platt, Huber, Boehme and Stiebjahn roll over the finish line in 2017. Photo credit: Ewald Sadie. Absa Cape Epic. Sportzpics.

While much has been said about last year’s route favouring the high-revving cross-country specialists, Platt reckons it was more a case of the timing and structuring of the global race calendar than the course itself and feels this year might very well present a different dynamic altogether.

“I don’t think last year’s Absa Cape Epic was necessarily a cross-country rider’s race, no. I think because the World Cup series started later everybody was in a different phase of training and could give it a proper go. This year the Epic World Cup is just two weeks before the Absa Cape Epic and that will be a priority for many riders. We also had some bad luck with mechanicals and Urs (Huber) was ill on some stages but that’s the nature of the race.”

Asked about what winning a record sixth title would mean to him and the team, the German was confident about his aspirations. “Our goal is always to perform at our best. Sure, we’re aiming for the win but there are many factors that come into play, and for a result here, everything has to come together. I am now properly recovered from my injury and training flat-out. I’m confident that I will be ready and that everything will work out. My goal and the team’s goal will always be to win the Absa Cape Epic. I’ll be here for 2018 and 2019.”