The cancellation, one of many sporting events affected around the world, was announced by the organisers on Friday evening.
The pair had partnered up as Galileo Infiniti in a bid to retain their jersey in the eight-day mountain bike event, which was scheduled to start today.
“Theresa and I were waiting the whole day anxiously to find out what was going to happen. We were at dinner and when we heard we were very heartbroken,” said Hill.
Ralph added that her whole body went numb when she heard the announcement.
“It’s a lot of hard work that we’ve put into it, but obviously we were yo-yoing the whole day and preparing our mindsets for it to go either way.
“We do 100 per cent support the Epic for cancelling the race though. They had their hands tied and didn’t really have a choice.”
Hill said it made her see the bigger picture regarding the current state of affairs.
“If they’re shutting down a worldwide event like the Epic, surely then this is a lot bigger than us. Having a precaution like this means there’s something big going on.
“All the riders were ready and everybody was wanting to go; every piece of the Epic was ready to go. But remember why the Epic was shut down. It was so that we can prevent the spread of the coronavirus, not because we wanted to make everybody mad.”
Ralph said they went to the press conference on Thursday and saw how the event had taken stringent precautions such as hand sanitisers, the no-touching rule and the elbow tap to greet people.
“Coming from Johannesburg and hitting that kind of situation in Cape Town actually made me realise ‘hang on, maybe this is the way we should be acting’.
“They were setting a good example of, if the race should go on we need to practise this type of behaviour. They put the example forward and played along with it really well.”
Hill added that the organisers’ response was very professional and structured and exactly as it should have been.
“No one knows who has it or who doesn’t have it. There’s a lot of other sicknesses out there. For sure, we’re nervous about the coronavirus and very aware of it. It created a whole other vibe at the press conference though. It was taking away a little bit of the fire inside of us.”
However, both Hill and Ralph could see some positives to the cancellation of this huge sporting event.
“It’s not often that pros get to ride a whole week of whatever we want, however hard we want, with whoever we want on trails that are normally not accessible. We’re in for an experience at the moment. We almost weren’t sure what to do with this enormous sense of freedom.
“We can also now start a new base season. So, if you think your build-up for Epic wasn’t 100 per cent perfect, welcome to your second chance. How cool is that?”
Ralph said another positive was that they would retain the African leaders’ jersey for another year if the event isn’t rescheduled to a later date.
“It will be very interesting to see who will be our competition for next year.”
Hill added that they were in the form of their lives at the moment.
“We are healthy, fit and glowing. All the hard work wasn’t for nothing. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise also because a lot of us struggle with burnout when we get to Wines2Whales.”
Ralph said they still had a lot of races scheduled for the year ahead.
“We have to remain in good shape and we’ll carry on stepping it up.”