Previous Cape Epic winners Sally Bigham of the United Kingdom and Esther Süss of Switzerland will come together to team up as team Meerendal 3 for this year's race on March 23 to March 30.
Both Süss and Bigham have many accolades to their names. Süss, 39, is a two-time Cape Epic winner, once in the mixed category and once in the women's category. She started riding in 1998 and was crowned marathon world champion in 2010. Süss also won a silver medal (2009) and three bronze medals (2011, 2012, 2013) at the marathon Worlds. In 2013, she won a bronze medal at the cross country Worlds and became Swiss Cyclist of the Year for the second time (first in 2010). At 38, she placed fifth in the London Olympics, racing against women 10 years younger and more.
Bigham, 35, holds two Cape Epic wins, both in the women's category. She has won the British marathon national championship four times, and the TransAlp twice (2012, 2013). She finished in second place in the marathon Worlds in 2012 and 2013 and placed first overall in the 2011 UCI World Marathon Rankings. She won the Andalucia Bike Race in both 2011 and 2012. She has won eight Cape Epic stages in her career.
Bigham holds a PhD degree and started mountain biking in 2006. "I started for fun and then it took over. I really like the Cape Epic. It's an iconic race and a real adventure. It's all about suffering and fortunately I like to suffer. I've been preparing well and Esther is the perfect partner for me. We'll give it 100% and see what we can do."
Süss said, "Of course it's nice to win a stage, but it's better to win the overall!"
With regards to their training together, Bigham said, "We raced the Cape Epic together and won in 2012, and we've raced against each other plenty of times in solo races, so we don't need to train together so much. We'll ride together the week before the start of the event."
Süss said, "Sally is from Great Britain, and I'm from Switzerland, Sally is also professional and I'm only semi-professional. I work as a teacher, so we'll hardly ever train together."
Süss believes teamwork is paramount while Bigham rated good preparation and a strong mind as important to success in the race.
"I look forward to the atmosphere. I love it, and of course the amazing scenery and places that we'll visit," said Bigham.
Süss has been impressed by the caliber of women signed up for this year's cape Epic and is looking forward to racing her competitors. She said, "I'd like to win the Cape Epic with Sally, and also to win a medal at the world marathon championships in Pietermaritzburg and at the cross country Worlds in Norway."
Bigham called the Cape Epic "addictive" and said she does not balance training and her private life. She, too, is hoping to win medals this year at big championships races like the Worlds and the Europeans.