Cycling

Defending Epic champs return

2011-03-25 14:10
Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (File)
Cape Town - Last year’s winners of the Absa Cape Epic and one of the world’s best mountain biking teams, Karl Platt, 33, and Stefan Sahm, 34, will be back to defend their title at this year’s event which takes place from March 27 to April 3.

Absa Cape Epic Prologue start times

The German Bulls team is ready to take on the challenging 707km and approximately 14 550m of climbing, which again ends at its traditional Lourensford Wine Estate venue.

Platt and Sahm achieved a hat-trick winning the Absa Cape Epic in 2010, 2009 and 2007, with Platt also winning the inaugural 2004 race with his previous partner Mannie Heymans.

Says Platt: “I’ve participated in the Absa Cape Epic since its inception – this will be my eighth race. I love this race, the people and the country. It’s an exceptional experience to train in South Africa – riding around Chapman’s Peak is beautiful and one needs no further motivation. Also, coming from a very cold Europe, the weather is perfect.”

To Sahm the Absa Cape Epic is a combination of a lot of things. “For me it really is the best race in the world and the highlight in our season. It’s the hardest and cruellest week of cycling throughout the year, but I enjoy every second.”
 
Platt’s victories speak for themselves – six times winner of the TransAlp, winner of the TransRockies, winner of the TransGermany, winner of the Trans Schwarzwald and also German Marathon Champion. His partner, Stefan Sahm, also boasts an impressive list of wins behind his name such as the TransAlp, the TransGermany, the Trans Schwarzwald, the Riva del Garda and Willingen Marathons, and the National Bundesliga. This will be their fourth Absa Cape Epic as a team.

Platt comments that he is never over confident before a race: “Our chances are as good as anybody’s. But we did our homework and are well-prepared. We also have really great equipment – so we can’t do more.” Sahm adds jokingly that they are “as confident as winning the lottery. I know that we’re well prepared for racing the Absa Cape Epic and I had a really good training season in winter. But, this is the Cape Epic and it has its own rules. The previous years showed that you have to expect to deal with a lot of problems. By the 3rd of April, we’ll know all about it.”

To the question of why they make such a winning team, Sahm responds: “This is not easy to describe and sometimes we ask ourselves why we race so well together. The key our success is our friendship and our respect of each other’s limits. Contrary to what people think, we don’t train together a lot because we live about 450km apart. In the early season we do some training camps together.”

Their advice to other participants is simple. “Have fun and enjoy! Honestly, that’s my best advice. All participants pay for it. And be a good friend to your partner – you can’t cross the finish line on your own – that’s a rule!” says Platt. Sahm adds that you must “always think and act as a team. Work hard, stay focused on what you want to achieve and try to have as much fun as possible with cycling! Over the years there have been lots of tips and good advice, but apart from good training before the race, the most important factor is not to change too much. Stick to your normal diet - no fancy stuff - stay relaxed and keep in mind it’s an eight day race!”

This year Team Bulls is an ambassador for the JAG foundation. “We’re very proud that they asked us,” Sahm adds.

In his spare time, Sahm enjoys spending time with his wife, working on his VW bus, cycling and drinking coffee. Platt enjoys spending time with his family and young kids. “And I love fast cars. Whenever I can I go for car racing.”

All eyes will be on the Western Cape as the world’s top riders vie for a position in what is billed to be the most competitive mountain bike stage race on the international racing calendar for 2011.

Live entertainment for the entire family, including wine tasting, magnificent scenery and the finest food and wine will be on offer at the finish at Lourensford Wine Estate, as well as the opportunity to see the ever popular Plush and Zebra & Giraffe in action. Entrance is free.
 

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