The Fluckiger brothers, Lukas, 26, and Mathias, 22, from Switzerland will participate again in this year's Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa from March 27 to April 3. The brothers, who are regulars on the World Cup circuit, won the final stage of the 2009 Cape Epic as well as stages 6 and 7 of last year's event, finishing in fourth position overall.
"Two years ago, we participated in our first Cape Epic and had a lot of bad luck, but we learnt along the way and had a few good stages last year. We still have a lot of potential to do better in the future. We had so much fun the last two years, and the Cape Epic is definitely the event for us, the real start of the season that will get us in good shape for the World Cup series starting three weeks later."
"Yes, it's always good preparation for the season. But it's not just training as we'll ride most of the stages at full gas!" said Mathias.
Lukas reckons they will have an advantage over the other riders because they are brothers. "I can't ride with another partner. Mathias is like a second part of me and vice versa. We need each other. We have no bad conversations during the race week. He knows what I need and I know everything about him too and that is one of the best important factors in this event.
"A good example is when we want to attack, we can read each other without speaking, just from our body language, and we know how fast we must go without communicating it vocally."
"Some days Luk is better, then other days I'm better," said Mathias, "and we must always think of the other when there is a big difference."
For the past couple of years, Mathias has been busy completing his education and military service, but the two brothers will soon be spending more time together. "We had completely different training times, but we'll train together as much as possible in the future," said Lukas. "My training is similar to that of other pro World Cup riders. In the winter, longer road rides with power training in the gym. In the summer, more mountain bike rides with lots of intervals.
"I did all my training there (in the sport division of the military), and Luk did his at home or in some other training camps," said Mathias. "But during the season later this year, we'll train together again. Some days, I do a lot of training for up to seven hours and then some are recovery days with just two hours of training."
Lukas reckons one of the most important factors to complete the Cape Epic is to "keep it easy in the first few days because days six, seven and eight are the hardest of the event." He cites having fun, getting proper nutrition and recovering as three important things to do during the race.
With regards to last year's Cape Epic, Lukas said it was one of the hardest weeks in the whole season. "But also one I enjoyed very much!"
Coming off winter in the northern hemisphere, Mathias remembered the warm weather "and also the nice feeling when we crossed the finish.