With only days to go to the Cape Epic, South Africa's Kevin Evans has changed partners and will now compete alongside countryman Max Knox and will be aiming to be the first all-South African team to win the world's leading mountain bike stage race.
Team FedGroup Itec announced the change and that it had signed Knox yesterday. Evans has previously finished second and third in the Epic and Knox has finished the event five times, often riding as a back-up to leading teams.
Neil MacDonald, who had been scheduled to ride with Evans, will now partner Johann Rabie in another all-South African combination.
The Epic will start on Sunday with a prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate and will finish on March 30 at Lourensford Wine Estate after traversing 718km of the Western Cape.
"It's a late change to our team for Cape Epic, and it took me a bit by surprise," said Evans. "It's taking a while to sink in that I have gone from African leader jersey (for the top all-African team to finish) contender to overall title contender, which is quite a nice adjustment to have to make."
"I've never had a problem with endurance. My early season training hasn't changed really this year. If anything, I've got more speed and power now combined with my endurance and I've not raced much this year, so am very fresh," said Knox. "I'm looking forward to combining with Kevin for the Cape Epic. You can't get a more experienced South African to race with. I'm done with being a back-up rider in the Epic. I'm very keen to go for the win for my new team."
"I certainly want to win a Cape Epic title my career and I know it's the one major race title Kevin is missing from his impressive career. It's the most open Epic in ages and anything can happen in those eight days," added Knox. "But if you're not in the race with some form, you can't be in with a shot at the podium. We're aiming for an overall podium finish for sure," he said.
"No South African team has ever won the Cape Epic and we're excited about the potential of this new FedGroup Itec pairing of Max and Kevin," said Scott Field, FedGroup Chief Financial Officer. "Both are in very good form right now and both have substantial stage racing and Cape Epic experience."
"We've secured another top South African racer, Johann Rabie, to race the Cape Epic with Neil. This will be the FedGroup Itec back-up team. Having a back-up team has become the norm for teams that are aiming at the overall title," said Field.