Dutchman Bart Brentjens, who won the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in 2005, will return to the race for his sixth time this year. He'll team up with Jeroen Boelen as part of the Milka-Trek 1 team. The Cape Epic will run from March 27 to April 3 in South Africa.
Brentjens explained why he'll be on the starting line. "The environment is beautiful, the course attractive and challenging, it's a multi-stage race, the weather is good, some of the best riders of the world participate, we get great exposure, the organisation of the race is perfect, and I have a feeling that the organisers like it when I'm racing there," he said.
Brentjens is a two-time Olympic medalist (gold in 1996, bronze in 2004) and a former world champion and World Cup winner. He is a national marathon champion and has won the Dutch national cross country title 12 times. In 2005, he partnered with Roel Paulissen of Belgium, and the duo won seven of eight stages en route to the overall victory. All in all, Brenjens has won 12 stages of the Cape Epic.
Although Brentjens reckons his too old to win the race again, he and his teammate will give it their all. "Jeroen is driven by mountain biking, the same as I am. He's very good at multi-stage cycling events, always friendly and has a good character. We also speak the same language and live in the same area, which makes it easier to train together almost daily. We make a good team."
"I don't really have a special training programme and rely on experience from the last couple of years," he said. "I try to ride as much as possible - between 12 and 17 hours a week - and we'll also be participating in several races before the Cape Epic for intensity training."
Brentjens was riding with two broken ribs to the finish line of the Cape Epic last year and said it was tough. This year, his sights are set on a stage win.
"I've won at least a stage each year that I've participated. This year, I'm very happy that Milka-Trek has two teams participating. Also, one of our biggest television channels in the Netherlands, Omroep Brabant TV, will be filming this year's race again. I really hope I stay healthy till Lourensford."
Brentjens' strengths lie in his experience, strength, competitiveness, leadership and endurance over long distances. His advice to younger mountain biking enthusiasts is to "stay focussed, set yourself some goals and try your best to reach them."
In his free time, Brentjens enjoys playing with his kids, Bart Junior and Ginger, as well as gardening and taking care of the animals on his farm. His other ambitions for 2011 are to do well in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race and in his private life, to settle into his family's new farmhouse.
All eyes will be on the Western Cape as the world's top riders vie for a position in what is probably the most competitive mountain bike stage race on the international racing calendar for 2011. 1200 local and international mountain biking enthusiasts will take on the demanding week-long mountain bike race over 707km. The race will reach some new territory near Saronsberg and Worcester, not previously covered in past editions. It will finish in its traditional location of Lourensford Wine Estate.