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Sauser won the marathon mountain biking world championship in 2013 while Kulhavy snatched the title in 2014. Kulhavy is also the reigning Olympic gold medallist in the cross country discipline. And that array of achievements is only a small part of two of the most formidable CVs in mountain biking history.

But the Absa Cape Epic is not raced on paper. It is raced on rugged terrain across the Western Cape and many a top rider’s ambition has been stymied by crashes or damaged bikes. Sauser himself knows all about this: he and Burry Stander were stymied in 2008 (an injury to Stander’s knee), 2009 (a one-hour penalty for receiving outside assistance) and 2010 (Stander was ill early in the event).

Sauser is delighted to be back together with the Czech strongman: “Jaro is more and less a combination of everything that you need for the Absa Cape Epic,” said Sauser, “He is a real powerhouse, especially on the flat, and that and his technical ability can make the difference.”

He points out that Absa Cape Epic course is increasingly taking riders on to singletrack trails, “so you also need to have cross country abilities, and we both bring that to the party”.

Kulhavy said they would be going for the win: “My strengths are still endurance and I have good shape on the flat sections. Christoph is an expert on this race. He is really fast on technical sections. We are on the same level and that is very important.” The Czech added with a laugh: “Mainly he makes the porridge every race morning for me.”

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Sauser and Kulhavy both tipped Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek (Topeak Ergon), Jose Hermida and Rudi van Houts (Multivan Merida), Jochen Kaess and Markus Kaufmann (Centurion Vaude) and Karl {Platt and Urs Huber (Bulls) as their main challengers for the top step of the podium. They will have the strong South African pair of Nico Bell and Ereik Kleinhans (RECM) as their support team again this year.

“We are so fortunate to have the two racing for us again, sacrificing their own ambitions,” said Sauser. “The two are not only our backups, they are great friends too. I know they will do anything to help us win the 2015 edition, and if it works out it will be their title as well.’

In a possible reference to helping the South Africans win a stage, Sauser said: “I hope we will have the chance to somehow give them something back during the race.”

Sauser and Kulhavy rode the Swiss Epic together in September of last year but have since been training separately: “The last time I met with Christoph was during the Swiss Epic. Now everybody trains alone, but it is not a problem for us: we have spent a lot of time together already,” said Kulhavy.

Sauser will be bidding to finish his 10th Absa Cape Epic and is clearly a fan of the event: “Overall it is the best organised race in the calendar next to the Olympics. Also, the media coverage is huge. In Switzerland more and less everybody who is interested in sport knows about the Absa Cape Epic.”

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Kulhavy agreed: “The Absa Cape Epic is most famous mountain bike stage race ever. The television coverage is good and professional. This race does more to promote mountain biking, and it's great.”

“We will ride on the Specialized Epic 29er,” said Kulhavy of their choice of bike for 2015. “Full suspension is necessary for this event.”

“The Brain Suspension Technology is our biggest weapon, which no one else has,” said Sauser. “I cannot imagine turning my suspension on and off manually.”