Scott Athletes Ready for Cape Epic
Evans, George set sights on elusive Cape Epic victory
The ABSA Cape Epic is not only the biggest, but also known as the toughest stage race in the Mountainbike universe. This year the “Tour de France for Mountainbikers”, as the pros call it, covers a distance of 781 km with 16 300 m of vertical ascent that is more brutal and demanding than ever. A victory in this race for 2012 is the only thing on the minds of Kevin Evans and David George of Team Nedbank 360Life. The South African pair have been preparing meticulously for the world’s most prestigious mountain bike stage race for the past eleven-and-a-half months. On Sundaytheir quest will begin when the race starts with a 27 km prologue time trial at Meerendal Wine Estate in South Africa’s Western Cape province.
Evans and George have partnered three times previously for the Cape Epic, each time in a serious bid to become the first South African team to win the demanding race.
In 2008 they were third and in 2009 fourth. They raced on different teams in 2010 and last year, racing for the first time as Team Nedbank 360Life, their bid ended suddenly on Day 2 when Evans crashed on a descent and smashed his left collarbone. George continued to finish solo, but from the minute Evans woke from the anaesthetic following the surgery to repair his collarbone, their sights were adjusted to achieving victory in the 2012 edition.
Last year they embraced the shift towards the 29-inch wheel platform and competed on hardtail SCOTT Scale 29 RC bikes. But in mid 2011 they’d been flown to Europe where they test rode and declared their satisfaction at the new SCOTT Spark 29 RC, a state-of-the-art full suspension 29er, the ideal bike for the rugged South African conditions. They raced to a number of podiums in late 2011 and early 2012 on the Spark 29 RC and also won the gruelling Cape Pioneer Trek six-day stage race over murderous terrain on the Spark 29 RC last October.
Equipment has always been a priority for George, who has won Evans over to a similar mindset. The pair have a sponsorship budget from Nedbank 360Life, which allows them to choose their equipment. They have chosen the best they can find, leaving nothing to chance in pursuit of their dream.
The distance and elevation of the Cape Epic is one thing, but it’s the brutal terrain that causes the most damage to both riders and bikes. The Western Cape region is very stony and rocky and it has some steep and long ascents and descents. It’s also very dry during the South African summer, which makes it sketchy and unpredictable. The combination of these factors results in a relentless landscape that’s claimed many a Cape Epic dream.
Evans and George have spent hours test-riding various options in an effort to ensure they conquer both the terrain and their rivals. And it all comes together over the next 10 day.
600 pairs to compete in the race
The 2012 Cape Epic start list has some of the biggest names in the sport. Defending champions, Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander of Team 36One Songo/Specialized will go into the race as favourites. Multiple champions Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm of Team Bulls are back to try and claim a fourth title together and Hannes Genze, runner-up last year, has partnered with Andreas Kuglser, sixth last year, for Team Multivan Merida. And that’s just a handful of teams in a field of over 600 pairs.
The eight-day race begins with a prologue time trial that will take riders over 27 challenging kilometres to the event’s first ever mountaintop finish. Views of the Cape Winelands and Table Mountain as well as special permission to race through protected Renosterveld vegetation, create a spectacular backdrop to the event’s opening stanza.
The riders then face five successive stages longer than 100km, including the Cape Epic’s longest ever stage, a 147 km 2900 m haul on Day 4. The last two days are shorter, but no less demanding. Course designer, Leon Evans, aka Dr Evil, has declared that he believes this is the hardest Cape Epic course he has ever designed. A fact that’s given many a novice a sleepless night, but which has added to the intrigue of the world’s most televised mountain bike event.
For detailed ABSA Cape Epic information, visit www.cape-epic.com. To track the progress of Evans and George throughout the 2012 ABSA Cape Epic, follow @Nedbank360Life on twitter and ‘Like’ the Team 360 Life Facebook page.
Source: Adrian Montgomery