Cape Town - Three-time marathon mountain biking world champion Christoph Sauser will return to South Africa to ride the Bestmed Tour of Good Hope from February 29.
Swiss-born Sauser has been a long-time supporter of the five-day Western Cape road tour, which was previously known as the Tour de Boland.
“I am not sure how many in total I have done but definitely more than a handful,” he said.
The five-time Cape Epic winner will lead an Investec-Songo-Specialized team of international mountain bikers for the tour, covering 522km and 6 168m of climbing.
“We’ve signed up for the elite category. As mountain bikers we can climb but have no idea about higher road tactics, so we’ll go flat out on the climbs and sit up on the flats,” he smiled.
Sauser said the tour had always been excellent preparation for his Cape Epic title defences.
“It’s very hard at some points and it gave me great speed.
“But it’s also much more about having a good time with my team-mates, racing on the beautiful Boland roads, the action and speed, and seeing new towns and areas.”
That focus is truer than ever for Sauser, who retired from competitive cycling this year.
“Now that I don’t race for winning any more, and my desk chair hours have increased and the bike saddle hours decreased, I have to look for the most draft during the race.”
He said he would still be motivated to ride hard as his new Cape Epic partner Sipho Madolo would be in good shape come February.
Sauser said he was also looking forward to the new cloverleaf racing format, with Paarl at the centre, which would make things logistically easier than the previous point-to-point route.
“I can stay at home in Stellenbosch and it is only a short drive over Helshoogte to go to the start and back.
“I will enjoy racing on the roads I have been training on for many years. Basically every kilometre tells an old story.”
Tour of Good Hope organiser Wynand de Villiers of ASG Events said it would be a privilege to welcome the former cross-country world champion and Olympic bronze medallist back to the tour.
“Christoph is a wonderful ambassador of the sport and we are humbled that he makes an effort to come and participate in the event,” said De Villiers.
He said only a handful of entries for the tour, which can accommodate a field of a thousand riders, were still available. The event is presented in association with the City of Drakenstein and Rudy Project.
Visit www.tourofgoodhope.co.za for more information.