Cape Town - Absa
Cape Epic legend Christoph Sauser will be riding with Stellenbosch’s Sipho
Madolo in the 2016 Absa Cape Epic.
winner, now retired from the professional ranks, has been one of the world’s
foremost mountain bikers for nearly two decades now.
Madolo comes from humble Khayamandi and became a protégé of Sauser when they
met at the multiple world champion’s songo.info charity project in the
has since completed four Absa Cape Epics and his progress under Sauser’s
guidance is evident: In 2010 he finished 275th overall, in 2012 he had improved
to 77th and in 2014 he and his team-mate crossed the line 30th. In 2015, Madolo
suffered a knee injury and had to pull out of the race.
retired from the professional ranks after this year’s Marathon World
Championships and has now decided he will partner Madolo in the race he has
dominated for so many years.
is a good friend, coach and mentor to me,” Madolo explained.
“I look up to him
and racing the 2016 Epic with him is definitely a great opportunity for me.”
was similarly warm about Madolo: “Sipho is so determined. He is not afraid to work
hard towards his goals. He is fast on the bike and smart off it. He has
finished his studies and is now playing a major role in our (songo.info)
added: “We always train together when he is in Stellenbosch and I have learned
a lot from him already. I am so excited about racing with him on his first Epic
as a retired man ... he is still strong and hungry for racing.”
raced the three-day Wines2Whales stage race together in 2013, finishing 12th
was the great experience that took my racing to the next level. I learned to go
out of my comfort zone and to race smart,” recalled Madolo. “As we have been
training together for a few years now it is cool to get the chance to race
together on the big event like the Epic.”
will they be racing the 2016 Absa Cape Epic with a specific
goal in mind? Madolo is reluctant to make a commitment: “He is retired but
still can make your life difficult on the bike. To do the race with him is a
huge pressure already and if I have to be realistic he will still be one of the
strongest riders in the race, which is good motivation for me to train even
say top 10 or top 20 as I don’t want to put
myself under too much pressure but all I can say is that we will ride as hard
as we can and hopefully get rewarded for it.”
asked if he would be approaching the event as a race or mentoring exercise,
said it would be a combination of both: “Sipho is already a very experienced
Cape Epic racer, but there is always something to learn. Even the most
experienced riders always face new challenges every year. You can only plan for
a stage race to a certain point and will face many surprises, which also makes
said retirement had changed his approach to riding: “I do have a different
approach. I definitely don’t hurt myself on
never ending hill repeats on my own any more.”
he would be keeping himself fit: “I have to, because here in Switzerland the
mountains are steep and long. I love riding my bikes: that’s why I started
riding and still do so. It is my passion do discover new areas or trails,
feeling the speed, the challenge of technical sections or just being out in the
nature with friends.”
thing that he says will definitely not change is his involvement with South
Africa and the songo.info project: “I am very involved in the daily business of
the programme even when I am far away. I always love to come back to RSA and I
will keep my apartment in Stellenbosch.”
2008 Sauser - who had by then made Stellenbosch his second home and was looking
for a charity to support - met Songo Fipaza, a community leader in Khayamandi
and a man with a passion to improve the lives of local children.
is a place where alcohol and drug abuse is widespread, crime is rampant, and
teenage pregnancy a major problem. By 2009 songo.info was up and running with a
clubhouse and a BMX cycle track. The clubhouse has since become a refuge for
local children, where they come to do homework and to ride bikes.
has used his influence to get sponsors to back the charity and locals says it
has made a marked difference in the lives of the children. Sauser and Fipaza
set out to build a place where “children are protected and have a safe place to
grow and develop” and they appear to have achieved that.
emphasis on cycling at songo.info has also unearthed some great talent, Madolo
being one who has since represented his country at a marathon world
palmares - his list of cycling achievements - include three marathon
world championships, one cross country world championship, two World Cup cross
country series overall wins, 14 World Cup individual event wins and a bronze
medal at the 2000 Olympic Games. And, of course, an unmatched record in the
Absa Cape Epic, the world’s foremost mountain bike stage race.
his legacy will also include several children from a corner of South Africa
whose lives have been enriched by his time and generosity.
* 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.