Three all-South African teams seem destined to fight it out for the distinctive Absa African jersey – for the first African team to complete the Absa Cape Epic – but will also expect to be racing at the sharp end of the field this year.
Team RECM’s Erik Kleinhans and Nico Bell, Team Cannondale Blend’s Darren Lill and Charles Keey and Team Fedgroup/Itec’s Kevin Evans and Neil MacDonald have all shown good form recently.
They will all be aiming to wear the red African jersey when they get to the finish on March 30 at Lourensford wine estate after eight days of racing and will also be eyeing a place on the overall podium.
No all-South African team has won the race before, although the late Burry Stander won twice – in 2011 and 2012 – with Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser.
But the rapid improvement in the standard of South African mountain biking has increasingly seen top local teams among the front riders at the race.
Keey and Lill finished ninth overall last year, but were set back when the latter picked up a stomach bug midway through the race. They had been performing strongly in the opening stages.
“Yes, the African jersey will be the team’s primary goal. On the general classification … an overall top five. If everything goes well, maybe even better,” he said.
Keey says his training is “pretty much on track with last year – I decided to do a little less racing pre-Epic than in 2013 while spending more time at home”.
To view more information on the Absa Cape Epic event, click here.