American Howard Grotts and Czech Jaroslav Kulhavy, a two-time Cape Epic winner, will team up for the event taking place in the Western Cape from March 18.
The 25-year-old Grotts, who is highly regarded as a climber, will replace Christoph Sauser on the Investec-Songo-Specialized team.
He believes Kulhavy’s ability to drive the bunch hard could give them the edge this year.
“Jaro is an incredible rider with a huge diesel engine – pretty much perfect for a race like this where being able to sit at a consistently high pace for four to five hours every day is the name of the game,” said Grotts.
“I’m generally known for my climbing, so the route’s 44 000 feet (1 3530m) of ascending should suit me well. And for everything in between I’m just planning on hanging onto Jaro’s wheel and sitting in the draft as best as I can.”
Grotts participated in his first Cape Epic last year as the back-up team in support of Kulhavy and Sauser.
“I expect (2018) to be a whole lot harder, for one thing,” said Grotts.
Kulhavy believed that Grotts had what it took to step into Sauser’s shoes.
“Howie is probably the best rider in US for cross-country and marathons right now,” he said.
“He is still young but he is an experienced rider. Last year he did the Cape Epic as back-up so he has experience of the event, which is important. Of course, Christoph was a big matador and a legend of the race but Howie can be really strong now, and in the future.”