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Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) was world champ in 2011 in cross country racing.
Czech rider teams up with defending champion Sauser
Kulhavy will team up with defending champion Christoph Sauser for Team Specialized Racing. Sauser had planned to defend his title with Burry Stander, but the South African was killed in an accident while training on January 3, and instead Sauser will ride with Kulhavy in memory of Stander.
"I feel great at the moment, but I know the race will be very hard," said the 28-year-old Kulhavy. "I started training later this season than last year."
"I think Christoph and I'll be a good combination. We've competed in several races together, and we're both very strong. If we don't have any trouble, there is a big chance for us to win stages and finish on the podium overall. We need a lot of luck!"
Kulhavy and Sauser are not doing any pre-race training together. "We'll see each other at races," said Kulhavy. "I train long hours at the moment and I'm riding about 200km per day. I need to lose 2kg before the Cape Epic."
2013 is a post-Olympic year and this season is already shaping up differently than in 2012, when all the top riders were focused on getting gold in London.
"I thought I'd have some more free time this season, but with the Cape Epic, then Sea Otter, the World Cups and so on, I'm going to be busy. The season looks difficult, but I look forward to it!"
Kulhavy reckons that his advantage over other riders is his "good technical control and high standard of performance". He proved his is in good form on Saturday by winning the Cyprus Sunshine Cup opener in Voroklini.
In his free time, Kulhavy has been building a new house. "I like to build in my free time and relax with my girlfriend, family and friends. I'd really like to finish the house this year and then lead a more relaxing life."
Kulhavy has been racing as a pro since 1996. Besides winning last year's Summer Olympics in London, he placed third at the World Cup overall. In 2011, he was both the World and European Champion. He was the Czech National Marathon Champion as well as European Champion in 2010.