Cape Town - Former Springbok flyhalf Joel Stransky and eight times national champion Anriette Schoeman, riding for the Liqui-Fruit team, have successfully completed Stage 3 of this year’s Absa Cape Epic.
With 5 Absa Cape Epic races and a Rugby World Cup to his name, rugby legend Stransky is also an Amabubesi rider.
He has been mountain biking for the last 8 years, since he was first challenged to do the Absa Cape Epic by Elana Meyer, formerly of the JAG Foundation.
Schoeman represented South Africa at the 2004 Olympic Games and has won the Cape Town Cycle Tour five times, but is relatively new to mountain biking, with this being her first Cape Epic.
"Stage 1 is always a tough stage but Oak Valley is beautiful," said Stransky of the race so far.
"We’ve done a lot of climbing with some nice single-track.
"The Prologue was just stunning, especially the mountain side overlooking the Cape Town CBD, and the most spectacular ride I’ve ever done. The routes are always different but so far no disappointments."
Schoeman adds that it has been incredibly tough, but a fantastic experience and an amazing privilege.
"It really is like the Tour de France of mountain biking and has always been on my bucket list.
"Fortunately, Joel is very knowledgeable about what’s coming up and what one can expect of the stages.
"Every stage gets easier as he knows the logistics of the whole setup. He mentally prepares you for the next day and is very encouraging as well.”
Stransky is not even aware of the collarbone, which he broke in January.
"I don’t even know it’s there. Both Anriette and I don’t want to hurt ourselves, so are taking it easy, being careful on the down hills.
"As a newbie, Anriette is doing unbelievably well! The challenge is that it’s tough and different to road cycling."
Schoeman had a really bad moment during the Prologue.
"I lost a bit of concentration. It may be the lack of self-confidence as I’ve not had a lot of time on a mountain bike this year and kind of came down, but just a little, and lost some time."
All in all, the duo feel they are well matched for the race. Schoeman continues: "It works really, really well. Being a professional sports person, Joel understands the challenges and with his mental strength, helps me a lot.
"He motivates me to want to hang on longer and get really good results.
"Our chemistry with regards to riding is very good. It’s a huge privilege for me to be here and to have the opportunity to ride with Joel and Liqui-Fruit.
"Everybody is so supportive. I’ll try my utmost to finish well on Sunday at Meerendal!"
Stransky’s experience with the race is definitely one of his strengths, as is endurance.
"You need to prepare well and know how to suffer.
"This is the Epic and it doesn’t matter how strong you are, at some point in the race you will suffer! The most important thing you learn from having done it before is how to pace yourself in order to survive each day and ultimately the 8 day race.
"It was tough out there today – long and windy and we raced proper! It was our best result so far.
"Anriette, you’re one tough racer! I would go to war with you any day! Well done partner!" Stransky concludes.