Former Formula One champion Alain Prost is participating in this year's Absa Cape Epic along with international waterski champion Sebastien Di Pasqua. With one prologue and two stages finished, the pair aims to make it to the finish of the South African mountain bike stage race on Sunday.
At the start of stage 2, Prost said that the Cape Epic is definitely living up to his expectations. "I was sure it would be very difficult and tough, which it is," said Prost. "I wanted to live this week and this experience. So I'm not terribly surprised, it's exactly what I expected."
Prost is a four-time Formula One Drivers' Champion, and he has won more titles than any driver except for Juan Manuel Fangio (five championships) and Michael Schumacher (seven championships). For a period of 14 years, from 1987 to 2001, Prost held the record for most Grand Prix victories. Schumacher surpassed Prost's total of 51 victories at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix. In 1999, Prost received the World Sports Awards of the Century in the motor sport category. He has also received an Order of the British Empire (OBE) and the Chevalier de la Legion d'honnour (National Order of the Legion of Honour).
Prost employed a smooth, relaxed style behind the wheel, deliberately modeling himself on personal heroes like Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark. He was nicknamed "The Professor" for his intellectual approach to competition. Skilled at setting up his car for race conditions, Prost would often conserve his brakes and tyres early on in a race, leaving them fresher for a challenge at the end.
"Stage 1 was already something very tough, but we did well. The only issue is that I'm starting to have a back problem and it gets to me, especially when I have to push the bike," said Prost. "So I'm really hoping that I'll be able to finish the race."
He had expected stage 2 to be a little bit easier than the previous day, and that he would be able to recover in order to be ready for the 147km awaiting riders during the queen stage on Wednesday. "In terms of fitness I feel good; I've got some good legs, but day after day one's physical condition is going to be less and less - but it's part of the experience." The pair crossed the line 184th in the men's category at the end of Tuesday's stage.
Prost's teammate Di Pasqua was equally excited to have the chance to race the Cape Epic. "Alain and I both love mountain biking, plus the challenge is amazing with a very difficult race, all this in a beautiful country, so we're both very excited to be here. It's the first time Alain and I are competing together, but I'm confident that we'll be a good team. We're both ready to give our best!"
Di Pasqua has been flying over lakes around the globe since he was 20 years old. At 19, he moved to Orlando, Florida to dedicate his life to waterskiing, with one goal in mind - to become the best water-skier he could ever be. Since then, Di Pasqua has become a two-time European record holder, a bronze medalist in the 2006 World Cup Final, a podium finisher in World Cups, Pro Tour stops and European Championships, three-time world championship finalist and 15-time national record holder. He has been in the top 10 and top three on the International Waterski Federation (IWSF) and European ranking lists for 10 years. He retired from pro skiing in 2010 to become a coach and share his knowledge.
Di Pasqua was satisfied after Monday's stage 1. "It was long and extreme, but we completed it in a good time so I think we did pretty well. You definitely learn a lot about yourself on the Cape Epic. The atmosphere is great. We'll give it our best to finish, ride smart, and make sure that we know the level of what we can compete at. We know what our strengths and weaknesses are and will use it to do our best."
Di Pasqua said it is not possible to compare the Cape Epic to any previous sport he has done. "However, taking part in tournaments and having that mindset helps. Apart from that, nothing else can really prepare you. We fortunately had great people around us telling us how it was going to be, so we weren't totally taken by surprise," he said.