Cape Town - If
somebody were trying to track down José Hermida in the Absa Cape Epic race
village they would simply have to follow the laughter - and the chatter.
2016 Hermida retired from a distinguished 20-year cross country career that
earned him a world championship title, an Olympic silver medal and many
victories along the way. But he will be remembered as much for his lively
personality and joie de vivre as for his success in the saddle.
is working as a brand ambassador for Merida bikes but is keeping his hand in on
the bike: the colourful Spaniard will be back for his eighth Absa Cape Epic in
2017 with another of cycling’s great characters and recent retiree, former road
professional Joaquim “Purito” Rodríguez (Merida Factory Racing).
are their objectives for the Absa Cape Epic: “Jajajaja ... its gonna be a
challenge to get both at same point of focus - as you know we are both Spanish
and talk a lot, but for sure if we make things good we can make some big days
and surprise everybody,” Hermida laughs.
have another high profile team in the event in George Hincapie and Cadel Evans.
It will be my job to attack Cadel, while Purito will concentrate on keeping
George under control,” he adds.
nickname in the professional peloton
was Purito, Spanish for “little
According to his Wikipedia profile he was given the nickname in an early season
training camp during his first year as a professional with ONCE–Eroski.
some of his team-mates stepped up the pace on a small climb, he passed them
making a hand gesture appearing
to be smoking a cigar, suggesting he was climbing without much effort. The
gesture was not welcomed by his team-mates, who made him smoke a real cigar as a
later in the evening.”
went on to notch up 14 stage victories in Grand Tours and second place
overall in the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. He came home third
overall in the 2013 Tour de France. He led in the UCI world rankings in 2010, 2012 and 2013, and also won classics such as
goal is to perform at the highest possible level, and our recent physical shape
should put us in a very competitive position,” Rodríguez says.
“But above all
we want to have fun and enjoy this new adventure.”
am looking forward to getting involved in one of the biggest mountain bike
events in the world,” he adds.
“I am highly motivated and appreciated the
opportunity to team up and to learn from José, one of the top mountain bike
racers in the world.”
if he still enjoyed racing, Hermida says: “Yes a lot! Still
a lot ... I have always enjoyed racing, fighting with friends. This is
something you don’t lose.”
know Purito since long time ago,” Hermida adds.
“Actually I took the risk of
turning pro on the road at same time as him back in 2001. We both took
different ways in our careers, both having fun and achieving our goals. It is
funny that now we meet each other again in a MTB competition. We are both ready
to face this challenge ... its gonna be fun for sure.”
what keeps him coming back to the Untamed African MTB Race? “The race, the
friends. The Absa Cape Epic has always treated me super good, making me
feel like I’m at home and having fun riding. At the same time we also had some
great glory days. For me the Cape Epic is the Tour de France of MTB, and
it is here where you feel the real MTB spirit.”
* Watch “I love this game, a tribute to José Antonio
Hermida!” HERE * The 2017 Absa Cape
Epic mountain bike stage race takes place from March 19-26 and the much
anticipated route can be viewed HERE