Germany's Robert Mennen and the Czech Republic's Kristian Hynek of team Topeak-Ergon are eager to race against the top riders in this year's Cape Epic. These two riders would like to finish on the podium at the end of the eight-day race.
After Mennen's previous partner, Alban Lakata, severed his Achilles tendon in a skiing accent in Europe, Mennen decided to team up with first-time rider, Kristian Hynek.
Lakata and Mennen's bad luck follows on from 2013 when a duiker (a small antelope) ran onto the course, causing Mennen to crash and break his collarbone, ending their chances for the 2013 event.
Both Mennen, 28, and new partner Hynek, 33, boast an impressive list of victories behind their names. Last year, Mennen finished first in the German marathon championships. He took second place at the TransAlp (with Lakata), and first place in both the Vaude Trans Schwarzwald and Andalucía Bike Race. He also finished in fifth place in the 2012 Cape Epic, which was his first time riding with Lakata.
Hynek finished fourth in the marathon Worlds last year, first in the Dolomitenmann, and third in the European Championship. He placed first in the UCI Marathon Series Dolomiti Superbike as well as the Czech marathon championship.
Hynek, who started competing professionally at the age of 21, said of the race, "The Cape Epic is the biggest and most prestigious event of its type in the world and it has been on my list for a long time."
Hynek is confident that they will fight for an overall podium finish as well as a stage win. "With mountain bike racing and especially team stage racing, there is a lot of luck involved. I believe that everything will go well. We just finished the Andalucía Bike Race which was a general test for us and I think everything is going as planned towards being well prepared for this year's Cape Epic."
Mennen said, "It's hard to say. Kristian is new to the Cape Epic and also new as my team partner, but he's a really strong guy. It's a long race and a lot can happen. We hope to win a stage and also to finish on the podium."
According to Hynek, important ingredients to complete the Cape Epic successfully include "being in excellent shape, team support and a lot of luck". Mennen and Hynek have been training hard during the training camps and used the Andalucia Bike Race in Spain to get to know each other under race conditions.
Mennen said, "I'm looking forward to stage 2 because last year the race was finished for me after stage 1. I'm also looking forward to riding over the finish line on the last day."