Cape Town - Switzerland’s
Esther Süss has graced the top step of countless mountain bike podiums over the
years, with two Absa Cape Epic wins being foremost among her successes.
Briton Catherine Williamson has similarly savoured victory in the Women’s
category of the world’s premier mountain bike stage race.
2016 they will be riding together in yet another of the power combinations that
are set to make the women’s race one of the most intriguing ever.
2011 Süss and countryman Barti Bucher dominated the Mixed category and a year
later she joined forces with another Briton, Sally Bigham, to win the Women’s
Süss has had mixed fortunes in the world’s premier mountain bike stage race
since then and will be hoping that all that will change in 2016 when she
partners with Williamson (Team Meerendal Wheeler).
are already a proven combination, having triumphed together in the 2015 Cape
Pioneer Trek. But 41-year-old Süss and her 33-year-old partner were both
playing down their chances against defending Epic champions Annika Langvad and
will try to get podiums as much as possible,” Süss said.
“I think an overall
win will be very difficult.”
added: “I hope we can achieve an overall podium position and maybe even a stage
win. The Epic is attracting the best field in the world of stage races now so I
know it’s a tall order to even get on the podium. But I think with a lot of
training, a little bit of luck and such a strong partner as Esther it is possible.”
modesty aside, they will be fancied by most fans to be at the sharp end of the
field and to challenge the leading women’s teams.
is a strong rider over longer distances and also has a marathon world
championship to her name. Williamson is a stage race specialist and finished
first in the 2013 Absa Cape Epic with Yolande Speedy.
was fulsome in her praise of Süss: “She is an amazing athlete and I have a huge
amount of respect for her as she is also a fun person to ride with. I spent
most of the Pioneer trying to sit on her wheel but I was never made to feel
under pressure and we were consistent the whole week through.”
is already in the Cape to train in South African conditions: “I have increased
my strength work this winter so I'm hoping that will help with the steep climbs
in the Epic,” she said.
love everything about mountain bike stage races, from the challenge of the
terrain to the friendships you make along the way. My strongest asset I think
is not only my endurance for multi-day races, but also being able to accept and
deal with whatever is thrown in your path - and during such a tough race as the
Epic there are always lots of things thrown everywhere.”
brings them back to the Absa Cape Epic?
“The ambiance, the challenge, the
country,” said Süss.
added: “It is always different from other stage races as it attracts so many
competitors and spectators and at some point the weather also throws in its own
challenges, be it by turning freezing cold and raining or blowing a gale. These
things always make for a memorable and super challenging week. To miss it
would feel like missing out.”
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,