Cycling

Epic champs to defend title

2010-03-18 16:00
Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm. (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Last year’s winners of the Absa Cape Epic and one of the world’s best mountain biking teams, Karl Platt (32) and Stefan Sahm (33), will be back to defend their title at this year’s event which takes place from 21 to 28 March.

The German Bulls 1 team is ready to take on the challenging 722 km up approximately 14 635m of climbing, which again ends at its traditional Lourensford Wine

Platt and Sahm were the winners of both the 2009 and 2007 Absa Cape Epic, with Platt also winning the inaugural 2004 race with his previous partner Carsten Bresser.

Says Platt: “I’ve participated in the Absa Cape Epic since its inception – this will be my 7th race. I don’t know why I love this race so much – it’s a paradox! On the one side, it’s pain and suffering and on the other unforgettable fun!”

To Sahm the Absa Cape Epic is a combination of a lot of things. “I enjoy the race because it’s unique. I like the country, the route, the competition, the atmosphere in the camp, the organisation, but mostly because it was the first race we did together as a team, including Karl, Friedemann, Vincent and I.

I have a lot of good memories about the race and it fuels my motivation for a long time thereafter.”

Platt’s victories speak for themselves – 6 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 third Absa Cape Epic (of which they have won twice) and their 9th multi-stage event together.

Platt comments that he is never over confident before a race: “I just know that we have a chance and will therefore fight till the last centimetre.” Sahm adds jokingly that they have the same confidence in winning this year as in previous years.

“None! I’m sure I did some good training throughout the winter in preparation and the first test races were good, but the Cape Epic has its own rules.”

With regards to last year’s race, Platt says it was an eventful journey and very painful. “I dislocated my shoulder twice and was really scared to ride my bike. But now my shoulder is much better and I feel completely free! It doesn’t however mean that it will be any easier for us to win.” For Sahm last year’s Absa Cape Epic was by far the most stressful.

“The mental pressure was extreme because we had to fight so many things, especially Karl’s shoulder. It took almost the whole season to recover from the event, but it was definitely worth it.”

With regards to the new UCI rules, Sahm believes it will not make such a huge difference. “To make a long story short, it doesn’t matter really what the rules look like - they just have to be the same for everybody.”

Platt adds: “We’re all in the same race with the same rules, so if you have really bad luck you have no benefits!”

Sahm lives and trains in Switzerland and Platt in Osthofen, Germany. Says Sahm: “We don’t train together that much during winter. Karl lives quite far from me. During season we do training camps together and see each other more regularly.” Platt reckons they are like brothers.

“We work the same, even if we’re not training together. I spend half of the year with Stefan and I’m often forced to share the same time in a bed with him than with my wife,” he chuckles.

Sahm says his training programme has been consistent for the last three years. “I do a lot of off cross training, including cross country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoe hiking during the winter as cycling is just not always possible where I live now. I get my base miles from January to March during our training camps in Mallorca and Cyprus. My diet is also nothing special – I eat whatever I like and train a lot so I can therefore eat a lot. But I know I’m lucky not to gain weight during the winter months.”

Platt comments that his training programme is definitely not cast in stone. “I love cycling and train more on gut feelings than on a training schedule. My theory is to train often and do so fast.”

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! A bad race doesn’t mean it’s a bad life!”

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.”

Platt would like to win a medal at the Marathon World Championships in Germany later this year whilst Sahm in turn would like to win the TransAlp.

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 2010.

For those not participating in the full race, there is a call for entries into the one day mountain bike race, the MTN Cape Times Vigne a Vigne. Interested riders can register online at www.vigne-a-vigne.com.

The Cape Times Lourensford Vineyard Run is a unique 11 km trail running race. The Vineyard Run (also on 28 March 2010) will start at 08:30, providing participants with beautiful vistas and numerous climbs through the idyllic and picturesque Lourensford Wine Estate.

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 Watershed in action. Entrance is free.

Visit www.cape-epic.com for more information.

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