Stenerhag won the 112km race last year, but this weekend will be more about getting back into the swing of things after a year beset by injuries.
However, those goals fell through and her season was badly impacted when she tore her hamstring muscle “completely off the bone” at the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge two weeks before the Epic started.
She was sidelined for nine months by the recurring injury, but still defied the odds to win the Swedish marathon champs in August.
“Just like last year I want to use this race as a hard training session after a lengthy break,” Stenerhag told In the Bunch today.
“I only did my first race four months after the operation, which went okay but it was almost like I hit a bloodied toe – the injury didn’t get better.
“As I raced more the injury got worse and then I just had to stop again, as in take a complete break for about five weeks.”
“I would say last week was my first real block of proper training since my injury. It was my first week in nine months without being hindered by my leg.
“At Wines2Whales I wasn’t sore, but I was sore afterwards. It has gone up and down.
“This has been my second week of proper training. It’s not the time of the year when I usually race, so I want to train for the Epic again.”
She predicted that this year’s Race2Nowhere would not form part of the Epic route next year.
“Last year it was a complete Epic stage but I don’t think we’ll go that far next year,” Stenerhag said.
“But now it’s just about going full gas for the Epic,” she said, adding that she was confident her body would cope this weekend.
“It’s long and rocky, while also [including] testing single-track. It’s a long day out. Last year I did it in under six hours.”