Christoph Sauser, a former cross country world champion and will team up with newly crowned South African marathon champion Burry Stander on team Songo.info for the fourth time at the Absa Cape Epic from March 27 to April 3.
Sauser, 34, has raced professionally since 1993, and in 2006, he won the Cape Epic with fellow Swiss racer Silvio Bundi. Although he lives in the Swiss Alps, he spends at least two months training in Stellenbosch each year.
Stander, 23, who lives and trains in Kwazulu-Natal, is also the current South African national cross country champion as well as the African cross country champion. He is a former under 23 world champion and World Cup winner. In September, he won bronze at the elite cross country Worlds.
Sauser, who had done every Cape Epic since 2006 says he really enjoys this event. "It's a big race to win, and I love stage racing! It creates stories, rivalry and friendship over so many days. It's tough and a win is worth so much more compared to a one-day race.
"Plus, the Cape Epic is so well organised with big hype surrounding it, and we ride through beautiful landscape. We're riding for Songo.info, the charity I started with a friend four years ago. There's a lot of passion and work going into it which I really enjoy."
"We also get along very well, we're balanced and we have an excellent support team," said Sauser of racing with Stander.
"We're both mentally tough or stubborn as most would call it," said Stander.
Finishing in second place last year, Sauser said they were naturally disappointed. "When we're at the start, of course we want to win. Our nine stage victories over the last three years were a very nice substitute though.
"As always, we're very confident this year. But with confidence and fitness you can probably win a swimming race, not the Cape Epic. So many unexpected things can happen to anybody. We'll just keep our fingers crossed."
"Second is the first loser, but we're still grateful," said Stander. "We had some serious luck issues in this event but have also enjoyed some awesome success."
As Specialized teammates the two spend a lot of time together on the road around the globe.
Sauser's fondest memory of the Cape Epic was being greeted by the Songo kids and friends at Lourensford. "You can see the kids are having fun, and they want to participate one day as well." That day in 2008 was also Stander's first stage win.
Both Stander and Sauser will be using the Cape Epic as a stepping stone toward the goal of winning another world championship title in 2011.
The eight-day race of 707km and 14,550m of climbing will challenge all the racers. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage.