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Evans hopes to prolong good form through Cape Epic

After winning the South African road time trial championships, the ultra marathon championships and the three-day Sani2C mountain bike stage race in recent weeks, Kevin Evans (MTN-Energade), who also finished second overall at the Giro del Capo road race, has proven he has the legs for his next objective: the Cape Epic.

Evans is aiming to win the Cape Epic with his Austrian teammate Alban Lakata.

"If we do not win the Epic, it will be of no importance to us in what position we finish overall. Whether we finish second, third, fourth..., it makes no difference. All it means is that we have lost," said Evans. "The only other option that would be tolerable to me, is not to win overall, but to win a few stages."

Having competed in all the Cape Epics thus far, Evans is a seasoned campaigner. He has always finished in the top 10.

In 2004 he was fourth overall; 2005 - third; 2006 - fourth ; 2007 - seventh; 2008 - third and 2009 - fourth. He also managed to win a stage, thereby earning the privilege to wear the coveted yellow jersey for one day.

2010 might just be the year in which South African mountain bike history will be made because, apart from Evans, Burry Stander (Specialized/Mr Price), who will ride with Christoph Sauser from Switzerland, also has a realistic chance of winning the Epic overall.

"With the Epic you cannot afford to leave anything to chance. You have to be as well-prepared as you possibly can, physically as well as mentally. And that is not all," said Evans. "You have to ensure that your equipment is 110 percent in working order. If you want to win you cannot afford to take any risks."

"And even though you do everything correctly during the build-up to the Epic as well as during the tour itself, you still have no guarantee that you will win. Just look at what happened to Burry and Christoph last year. To win the Epic overall, you also need a lot of luck."

According to Evans, there is no other mountain bike race that comes close to the Epic. "You can compare winning the Epic to winning the Tour de France on the road. It is huge."

Evans admits that, for the first time ever, he knows very little about the route. "In the past I always made a point of riding certain sections of the Epic beforehand. This time I haven't done it. I have no clue of what awaits us and I think it might be a blessing in disguise. Sometimes it is better not to know what you are letting yourself in for.

"However, I am beginning to think that a team time trial on day five could be important. On a good day you could win or lose 40 to 60 seconds over 27 kilometers. If the Epic turns out to be a closely contested affair, that is where the race will be won or lost.

Evans is looking forward to racing with Lakata, who rides professionally for the Topeak Ergon team. "A positive aspect about racing with Alban, is that he is very level-headed. This is good, because it means that I will not, as I often did in the past, start out with guns ablaze and end up paying the price.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.