The toughest stage race in the world starts on Sunday. The “Tour de France of Mountainbiking” enters the 14th lap. Once a year, the world elite of mountainbiking meets up ub South Africa for the first showdown of the season. The MAGURA-participants are defending champions and former medalists and it´s going to be exciting who will win the title this year!
The athletes ride in teams, consisting of two riders. The background to this is, that many stages lead through remote areas of Africa and so the drivers can help each other. This ensures more safety on the route. That implied, that the should never be more than two minutes apart, otherwise a time penalty of one hour will be imposed. This is an additional challenge for our riders and the pairings must be chosen well.
Defending champion with new constellation
Gallery (c) Michal červený
Old hands and motivated rookies
Another pairing are the two South Africans Alan Hatherly and Matthew Beers. The two riders of the Specialized Racing Team belong ratherly to the underdogs. But as reigning U23 World Champion, paired with an experienced marathoner, the duo can provide a surprise.
Another duo with the white S on red background will be Christoph Sauser and Simon Andreassen. The five-time winner Christoph is one of the most experienced participants. Absolute rookie, however, is the 21-year-old Simon. He is a great talent on the bike and has already won several championships in cross-country, but stage races are completely new territory for him.
The Absa Cape Epic and bikelegend Bart Brentjens belong together somehow. The Olympic champion of 1996 did not miss any epic year. Of his thirteen participations, he won four times in the Masters class. This year he starts together with the Brazilian Abraao Azevedo – a pairing that has worked very well in the last few years.
Now the Dutchman leads the youngster of his team CST Sandd Bafang up to the competition. The Nordic combination of the Dane Sebastian Fini and the Latvian Martins Blums, let hope for a lot and the two will heat up the experienced professionals quite nicely. Their teammate David Nordemann starts together with guest rider Erwin Bakker.
German teams and other medal candidates
Also the Team Centurion Vaude is in the starting blocks. Jpchen Käß and the Austrian Daniel Geismayr get together this year. At last, the two rode together in 2015 at the Absa Cape Epic. We will see if the two can quickly warm up and build on their past successes. They already had the yellow jersey over several stages, but the overall victory is still missing in their collection.
For several weeks, they acclimate on the black continent and guide their new team mate, Vinzent Dorn over the tracks. With only 20 years, the guy from the Black Forest dare into compeletly foreign waters. Grown up in cross-country mountainbiking, he descovered his talent in marathon. He contests the competition together with the Namibian Tristan de Lange.
Former guest rider of Centurion Vaude is Nicola Rohrbach. This year, he set up a duo together with his Confederate Konny Looser. Also new; his Silverback racing machine, which will accompany him over the race. The Swiss has always ranked among the top five in the past three years. This is making him to one of the top medal candidates.