Counting down

March 27, 2008

After a successful training camp and photography session in Moab, Utah last weekend, the Trek-VW team is now headed across the globe to Cape Town, South Africa. The red sand of Moab will hopefully bring good luck to the two teams and two staff we are sending to the Cape Epic stage race. It's going to be an abrupt start to a long season, especially for our new staffers, but we're hoping the effort is rewarded with some good results, great fitness, and amazing stories.

Cape Epic is the flagship event of a new generation of epic, multi-day mountain bike races. It traverses the South African countryside from Knysna to Cape Town, over the course of eight days. Stages cover 100km or so per day, and the terrain is about as rugged and beautiful as any on earth.

Why have we decided to send our athletes thousands of miles away to race in distant lands? No, it's not because we simply want to banish them from the team trailer for a few weeks. Rather, we decided that the opportunity was ripe for our team to make a big splash in this category of racing. We have riders that do exceptionally well in many other categories of off-road racing: Chris Eatough dominates the 100 mile and 24-hour endurance scene; Brian and Jenny Smith are regulars on the podium in Xterra Off-Road Triathlon; Jeremiah Bishop is contending for the US Olympic selection in World Cup cross-country; Susan Haywood has taken wins in stage races including El Reto Guatemala, TransRockies, and La Ruta de los Conquistadores.

However, the chance to plunge headfirst into the biggest international stage race on earth, with the most media coverage of all, was too great to pass up. The decision to participate in this race was not taken lightly. It took something like two months to agree that it would be effort well-made. The cost for our program is frankly exorbitant. But the chance to take our athletes onto the international stage and directly into the limelight is worth the stretch. Simply by showing up as the only American team committing heavily to the event is drawing attention. Exactly what we were looking for!

In the men's race, Jeremiah Bishop and Chris Eatough are partnering for the first time since Trans Alpe 2002. In the women's race, stage race vet Susan Haywood joins Xterra breakout Jenny Smith. Mechanic Steve Borkoski and new-to-Trek-VW soigneur Laura Downey will be assisting. We've rented two RVs, a satellite phone, and shipped four boxes of supplies. It's no small feat to take on eight days of racing with six people to care for!

So, at this point, the logistical arrangements have been made, bikes boxed up, and travelers drilled with information. All that's left is boarding the planes for up to 30 hours of travel. On the other end, we have local Trek distributors Just Fun Cycling ready to offer hospitality and welcome friendly faces to the arriving team.

Check back for daily reports from riders and staff! And wish us luck in the biggest adventure Trek-VW has ever attempted!

Zack Vestal
Trek-VW ATB Racing Team Manager

Men's team:
Jeremiah Bishop (USA), 32, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Chris Eatough (USA), 33, Oella, Maryland

Women's team:
Sue Haywood (USA), 36, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Jennifer Smith (NZl), 35, Gunnison, Colorado

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For the first time, American-based team Trek / VW is sending racers to the internationally reknown Cape Epic mountain bike race in South Africa from March 28 to April 5, 2008. Two men and two women, all four accomplished in various off-road racing disciplines, come together to take on some of the toughest stage racers world-wide. Chris Eatough, who dominates the American 100 mile and 24-hour endurance scene, has partnered with World Cup racer and US Olympic Team contender Jeremiah Bishop while Xterra Off-Road regular Jenny Smith teams up with Sue Haywood, the winner of El Reto Guatemala, TransRockies, and La Ruta de los Conquistadores. All four racers and their team manager will take turns contributing diary entries before and during the event.