South African Cycling

Cricket legend to tackle 2016 Absa Cape Epic

2015-10-14 13:41
Gary Kirsten (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Proteas opener and coach, Gary Kirsten, will be riding the Absa Cape Epic in 2016.

“My mate Michael Mol (the television presenter and medical doctor) was over for dinner one night and sneakily asked me whether I was keen to do the Cape Epic with him,” Kirsten recounted.

In recent years Kirsten has become increasingly involved in endurance running and has finished the Two Oceans ultra-marathon and seven 42km standard marathons.

“Mountain biking seemed to be a natural progression,” he said.

So it took him little time to say “yes” to Mol’s invitation and now he is nervously eyeing the challenge that awaits in March next year.

Last year he entered and completed the three-day Wines2Whales mountain bike stage race and is frequently to be found training on the slopes of Table Mountain.

He plans to put in about 12 hours a week on his bike and wants to be “fit enough to enjoy the ride”.

Mol has finished the Epic twice before – in 2010 and 2013. Asked at the time why he had entered, Mol responded: “As Sir Edmund Hilary once said about summiting Everest: ‘Because it’s there’.”

Kirsten and Mol will be riding for Liqui-Fruit, the Absa Cape Epic’s Official Fruit Juice.

Merlin Norman, Senior Marketing Manager, said: “We are thrilled to have well-known television personality, Michael Mol, riding for team Liqui-Fruit this year. Joining the dynamic team is former cricketer, Gary Kirsten.”

Former Springbok and World Cup winner Joel Stransky will also be riding in Liqui-Fruit’s colours, as he did this year.

“These acclaimed and respected celebrities all embody the vibrant and colourful image of the brand,” said Norman. “Not only do they personify an active, healthy lifestyle but they are having fun while living life to the fullest. We wish them well for their training over the next few months.”

South Africa and Indian cricket fans will remember Kirsten with warmth.

He played 101 Tests and 185 one-day internationals for the Proteas and then went on to coach India and South Africa with great success.

The authoritative ESPNcricinfo website said: “His discipline, temperament and his penchant for hard work stood out during his days as a batsman, when he became so established at the top of the South African batting order that it’s almost impossible to think how they would cope without him.

“Then, all those virtues brought him rich rewards after his playing days too, as he became one of the most successful and popular coaches of India. The side went to the top of the Test rankings during his stint, which ended, quite fittingly, with India's World Cup triumph in 2011.”

He was similarly successful with South Africa, also taking it to the top of the Test rankings.

As a left-handed opening batsman he earned a reputation for doggedness and played several big innings for his country.

Those qualities will stand him in good stead as he takes on the eight rugged days of the Absa Cape Epic, the premier mountain bike stage race in the world.

* The 2016 Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race takes place from March 13-20 and the much anticipated route can be viewed here.  The 2016 race will host the 100th stage in the history of the event – the EPIC100 – on Tuesday, March 15. 

Read more on:    absa cape epic  |  cricket  |  cycling

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