Cape Town - Reigning World Marathon champion and defending Absa Cape Epic titleholder,
Annika Langvad, has finished on the top step of the Absa Cape Epic podium in
all four attempts she has made at the race.
While that fact alone is imposing
enough her team-mate for the 2019 race, which kicks off in Cape Town on March 17, Anna van der Breggen is near as dominant a force on the road as
Langvad is off it.
The partnership, made possible by Langvad’s joining of Van
Der Breggen’s Boels–Dolmans Women’s WorldTour team, is arguably one of the most
exciting across all categories of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic.
the lead of riders like Marianne Vos, who proved that it is possible for the
truly elite women to bridge between disciplines, Langvad and Van der Breggen
are adding fresh challenges to their schedules this year.
Both have already
competed in the other’s specialist discipline.
Langvad placed 37th in the elite
women's road race at the Innsbruck World Championships, which Van der Breggen
won, last year. While Van Der Breggen finished 30th at the Val di
Sole leg of the Mountain Bike World Cup and second in the Dutch XCO
four Absa Cape Epic titles - which came with Ariane Lüthi in 2014, 2015 and
2016; and Kate Courtney in 2018 - put her on course to equal Christoph Sauser
and Karl Platt’s record of five victories.
For Van der Breggen the race
represents an opportunity to add mountain biking’s most illustrious stage
racing title to the two Giro Rosa victories on her impressive palmarès.
ahead to the 2019 Absa Cape Epic Langvad said: “I am beyond excited to return
to South Africa for my fifth Absa Cape Epic. The Cape Epic is always a huge
highlight of my season. I am very honoured to take on the race with Anna -
getting to partner up with an Olympic and Road Champion is quite unique. Riding
with Anna will make it feel just as adventurous as riding the Cape Epic for the
first time again. And I cannot wait to get this adventure started! I know we
will make a strong team out there.”
road world champion is equally enthusiastic about the challenge ahead.
Absa Cape Epic is my first goal of the season” Van der Breggen confirmed.
looking forward to a big adventure and to do something I never did before. To
work with such an experienced team and of course four-time Cape Epic winner and
World Marathon champion Annika is really motivating me. I cannot wait to
participate in one of the toughest mountain biking challenges in the world,” the
Dutch star concluded.
Investec-songo-Specialized - rather than their factory teams, Specialized
Racing and Boels–Dolmans - adds an extra dimension to the pair’s efforts at the
Absa Cape Epic.
songo.info is an education and cycling charity based in the
Kayamandi township, outside Stellenbosch.
Founded, by Sauser and Songo Fipaza,
in 2008; songo.info focused on its BMX programme in the charity’s early years,
before expanding to add a mountain biking programme too.
As one of the
charities recognised by Exxaro songo.info is awarded entries to the Absa Cape
Epic each year for development teams.
The highlight for the programme, results
wise, was Sipho Madolo and Azukile Simayile’s victory in the Exxaro Jersey
category in 2014.
Off the bike songo.info utilises the Absa Cape Epic to drive fund
raising initiatives, which has helped the charity expand to include an
education focus too. Children within the programme are currently assisted with
their homework and provided with lunch before they go out and ride BMXs or
since my first time in South Africa I’ve continuously experienced, first-hand,
what a big impact that songo.info makes” Langvad explained.
“Coming from a
country in Europe it was clear to me immediately what a crucial role
organisations like songo.info play in South Africa. Today I am equally proud
and humbled to be able to play my part for the songo kids - riding for them
when taking on the massive challenge of the Absa Cape Epic. It really puts
things into perspective and keeps me grounded” she concluded.
Langvad and Van der Breggen are possibly the strongest ever women’s team to
line up for an Absa Cape Epic. Mountain biking though is unpredictable by
nature and with a stellar women’s field developing for the 2019 race the
Investec-songo-Specialized combination will not have an easy ride to the title.
The heat, rugged terrain and fierce competition of the untamed African mountain
bike race will surely put them to the ultimate test from March 17-24 this year.