Platt and Sahm
With just days remaining until the eight-day, 685km Cape Epic, several more favorite teams are gearing up for the action.
Team Bulls' Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm will return to defend or better their second place from last year. The two Germans won the race in 2007, and Platt also won in 2004 when he rode with previous partner Carsten Bresser.
"I've participated in the Absa Cape Epic since its inception - this will be my sixth race," said Platt, who is the six-time winner of the TransAlp and also a winner of the TransRockies, TransGermany, TransScwarzwald and German marathon championships. "Of course we want to win, but you never know what can happen."
His partner Sahm, also boasts an impressive list of wins behind his name such as the TransAlp, the TransGermany, the Trans Schwarzwald, the Riva del Garda and Willingen Marathons, and the National Bundesliga.
Platt has been sticking to his training program without any significant alterations. "Never change a winning recipe. I try to do the same every year. I think it works and hope that it will prove to be right again this year," he said. Teammate Sahm has been mixing up cross country skiing and road riding to complement his mountain bike training and racing.
Leuchs and Alberati
Another pairing to watch is Team Felt's Kashi Leuchs and italian Paolo Alberati. The experienced marathon rider Alberati has been summoned to replace Miguel Martinez who will not race the Cape Epic according to the recommendations of doctors treating a muscular condition aggravated by long races. Alberati is a former road racer, who has contested the Giro d’Italia and Tour Montanes.
"I'm as excited as I would be if it were my first race," said Alberati. "The Cape Epic is the kind of competition that suits me, with stages of up to 118km in length."
Stewart and Knox
On the home front, Pietermaritzburg area stars, Brandon Stewart and Max Knox will represent Team DCM Chrome. Both already have Cape Epic experience. Stewart won a stage at the 2006 Cape Epic and was the top African in 2007. Knox also has a second place stage finish to his name from last year.
Living in the same town, both train together almost every day.
Stewart will be racing his sixth Cape Epic this year. "A strong mind and a solid training programme are essential to complete this race successfully," said Stewart, who added, "I've never considered not entering the Absa Cape Epic, but this year will be a whole new ball game."
The Cape Epic will run March 21 to 28.