Cape Town - German
Karl Platt’s name is synonymous with the Absa Cape Epic: he has taken part in
all 12 events since it was launched in 2004 and only missed out on finishing
once - in 2014 when he was injured in a crash.
significantly he has won the event four times, second only to the legendary
Christoph Sauser of Switzerland, who has five wins to his name, but last year
retired from the professional ranks.
last win was in 2010 with countryman Stefan Sahm.
Since 2013 he has been teamed
up with Swiss powerhouse Urs Huber but they have been plagued by misfortune -
particularly in 2014 when they were in the yellow zebra leaders’ jerseys after
two stages and perfectly placed to go for the overall win. Platt had crashed
that day and injured a knee and pulled out after starting Stage 3 in obvious
said, they did finish second in 2013 and third last year, but it is evident
that their ambition this year is nothing less than the top step of the podium.
am always very motivated for the Epic and that’s the reason why I always go
200% for the race,” Platt said. “(Win) Number Five would be awesome, specially
sure we’re coming for the win,” added Huber.
Team Bulls team-mates have contrasting personalities, with Platt being one of
the more colourful professional riders and Huber more reserved. But on the bike
they form a compelling combination and will start as one of two or three
favourite teams to win the 2016 Absa Cape Epic … if they have Lady Luck on
riders are highly competitive over marathon distances and among the best in
2016 route should suit us more than previous years. It is very technical
with good climbs, so I think we will have a good advantage,” said Platt.
described it as an “amazing route with those trails”, a reference to the fact
that there will be more singletrack in 2016 than ever before.
about Huber’s strengths, Platt laughed: “Urs is Swiss, that explains everything
... he loves to suffer.”
Swiss rider, on the other hand, will be able to rely on Platt’s canny strategic
approach to stage races: his wins have been built on a combination of patience
and then knowing when to strike.
will have one other significant advantage over most of their competitors - a
support team that it capable of finishing on the podium itself. Simon Stiebjahn
and Tim Boehme (Team Bulls 2) actually finished third in 2014 after being freed
of their support responsibility when Platt was injured.
has finished the Absa Cape Epic seven times and Stiebjahn three: their
experience and ability could prove hugely beneficial if Platt or Huber suffer
mechanical problems along the route and need parts from their team-mates.
recent years almost all of the winners have benefited from support teams on the
route and would almost certainly have dropped back in the field without them.
will line up at the Absa Cape Epic start for the 13th time on March 13, so what
brings him back each year?
“Honestly, I just love being there. I grew up with
this race and I am a part of it. I couldn’t just stay at home and watch the
race from outside.”
will be bidding to finish his sixth race. He keeps coming back for “the
atmosphere, the routes and the popularity of the race”.
said his training had been going exceptionally well and he would be spending
three months in South Africa before the race: “You will never get rid of this
German,” he laughed.
recently won the 121km Attakwas Extreme Challenge ahead of Boehme and appears
to be in excellent form as his big event of the year approaches.
typically, wasn’t saying too much: only that a “lot of work” still lay ahead.
obviously plans to let his bike do the talking come March 13.
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,