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Spanish ace for Epic

This year’s gruelling Absa Cape Epic cycle race boasts a virtual smorgasbord of champions, celebrities, dirt-trackers, you name-it!

Latest big-name addition to South Africa’s high profile mountain-bike event that features 1200 cyclists and runs from 27 March to 3 April for 702 long kilometres is top-notch Spanish cyclist Jose Hermida. He’ll ride for the Multivan Merida Biking Team 3.

Hermida boasts a number of titles including the Elite World Champion (2010), fourth place at the Sydney Olympic Games, six World Cup round victories, runner-up in the European Championships and five times Spanish national champion.

According to Hermida, who will be giving amateur riders a witty summary of the day’s events in the dining marquees every evening, the decision to participate in this year’s Absa Cape Epic is not easy to explain in a few words: ÔÇ£Firstly, I really feel comfortable at this event ÔÇô it feels like home. The organisation, the course, the other riders ÔÇô or shall I say ‘enemies’. It’s a bit of all of this and also because I really like to ride it.ÔÇØ

Hermida will be riding with Ralph N├ñf, with whom he rode in 2007. Says Hermida: ÔÇ£Riding with Rudy van Houts was┬á fantastic last year and we even won the last stage. This year I’ll┬á be coming back with one of my best friends and also partner. It’ll be wonderful for us again to ride ‘full gas’ in this year’s Epic. The good thing about it is that we know each other really well. Most of the time we don’t need to talk much.ÔÇØ

To the question of how confident he is of a stage win, his answer is simply that he is always confident. ÔÇ£But, every year it’s getting more difficult to win a stage to win and a win overall is eight times harder. The good thing is that we’re smart enough to wait for the right day, and then we always go for it ÔÇô let’s see what happens this year.ÔÇØ

During season, the two train together all the time. ÔÇ£Hundred and fifty days of the year we travel around the world. After each season we really need to switch off and take a break from each other!┬á But then just after a couple of weeks we need to call each other just to cathc up.ÔÇØ

Hermida trains 15 to 25 hours a week and between 20┬á000 and 25 000 km a year, with one day’s rest a week. ÔÇ£And of course lots of motivation and passion for my sport. On the diet side, I’m lucky. I like salads and pasta a lot and for dessert tiramisu and capuccino.ÔÇØ His advice to other participants is simple: ÔÇ£Have fun and ride with passion! The Absa Cape Epic will be short like that! In this event success is not always to win. Most of the time it is to reach the goal with your partner, so let’s say that the most important factor is to have a good vibe with your partner and to always keep going.ÔÇØ

The event kicks off with a prologue in Tokai Forest and ends at the historical finish line of the prestigious Lourensford Wine Estate. Joining Hermida on the start line will be ex-Springbok prop Adrian Garvey.

At his peak one of the world’s best tight-head props, Adrian Garvey won his first cap for Zimbabwe (his country of birth) in the 1991 World Cup. Nicknamed “Turbo Prop”, Garvey was the archetypal modern forward, combining deft handling skills and pace with ferocious scrummaging. Garvey played 28 tests for South Africa (1996-1999), scoring four tries with an impressive win record of 86%. He retired from rugby in 2004.

This will be Garvey’s first Absa Cape Epic. ÔÇ£I like a challenge and as I can’t run because of a rugby injury to my knee, the Comrades is out of the question. I reckon the Absa Cape Epic is Comrades on a bike.ÔÇØ

Garvey will be riding with Brian James as team Toyota Rugby.┬áSays Garvey: ÔÇ£My sporting career, which has been mainly swimming and rugby, has not been endurance sports so I’ve been in the dark a little as to how to train and prepare for the Cape Epic. In a nutshell, I’ve tried to maintain between 10 and 16 hours a week. During December 2010, I was lucky if I did three hours in total for the month. My diet has not changed that much, but I’ve included more protein shakes.ÔÇØ

On his tactics to finish the race, he says: ÔÇ£For me to complete my first Cape Epic, I’m going to ride the whole race easy and not put myself into the red zone. My team mate will just have to be patient with me while he waits at the top of all the climbs.ÔÇØ


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