Defending champion Sam Gaze, who is currently in great form after winning the Cape Town Cycle Tour on Sunday, will have his work cut out for him at the Champions Race in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch, this evening.
The Champions Race traditionally serves as an appetiser for the Cape Epic, which starts with a prologue at the University of Cape Town on Sunday.
This evening’s event is a mountain-bike race with a difference, hosted by charity songo.info on an urban course around their clubhouse. The course includes streets, fields and a BMX track.
Gaze and his Investec-Songo-Specialized partner for the Epic, Jaroslav Kulhavý, who won the eight-day race last year, are both set to take part in today’s spectator-friendly event.
They will however be up against some stiff competition, including multiple world champion Nino Schurter and Andri Frischknecht, who are likely to be their closest rivals.
Christoph Sauser and his Epic partner Simon Andreassen are the dark horses of the race while the Centurion-Vaude pairing of Daniel Geismayr and Jochen Käss are also expected to be in contention.
South Africans Tristan de Lange, Matthew Keyser and Jarrod van den Heever will add some local spice, along with Oliver Munnik.
The men’s race kicks off at 6pm, while the women’s event starts at 5.30pm. Last year’s winner and Epic champ Annika Langvad will headline the women’s field.
Her Epic partner, Anna van der Breggen, is likely to be her closest rival. Van der Breggen lost narrowly to Langvad at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup last month and the two will be keen contenders on a technical course.
The elite men will race for 35 minutes plus a lap, while the women will ride for 20 minutes plus a lap.