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Sauser on riding the Cape Epic without Burry Stander

The pain in the saddle at this year’s ABSA Cape Epic will be secondary to the pain Olympian Christoph Sauser will feel at losing friend and competitor Burry Stander, writes Mark Etheridge.

“Burry lived for this race and I’ll have so many memories of him during this year’s race,” said Sauser on Wednesday.

Known as the Godfather of the Cape Epic, the Swiss rider was talking at the launch of the official race book, African Epic in Cape Town.

Two-time Olympian Stander, 25, died tragically in a training accident in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this year. He and Sauser won last year’s Cape Epic, the first time that a South African had tasted victory in the grueling stage event.

“Burry will be irreplaceable but in Jaroslav Kulhavy I’ve got a great partner.”

Czech rider Kulhavy is the reigning Olympic mountain-bike champion, having won in London last year. Stander finished fifth in the same race.

Also speaking at the function to celebrate the 10th edition of the race was founder and race director Kevin Vermaak. “For sure, Burry’s passing will leave a hole in the race but we are going all out to ensure a lasting legacy in his memory both at the 2013 race and beyond.

“Already I know that Burry’s father, his late wife and his brother will all be riding in honor of Burry.”

Vermaak also confirmed that as from January 1, 2013 any cyclist convicted of a doping offence will receive a lifetime ban from the Absa Cape Epic.

The race has also committed R300,000 on an anti-doping program me for this year’s race.

The coffee table book was written by journalist and television commentator Neil Gardiner, former cycling magazine editor Nic Lamon and editor and travel writer Justin Fox.

World-renowned photographer Gary Perkin, who lives in Cape Town has been involved with the race since its inception and spoke of the happy memories associated with the race. “It’s been an adventure from the beginning. I started off taking shots from a Hi-Ace minibus and have graduated to a helicopter.”

He has also had to endure breaking his back during the 2010 edition of the race. “We were chasing after Burry and Christoph near Ceres when we hit a big bump and my spine compressed. I didn’t realise it was broken until a day and half later when I got to a hospital in Worcester.’

The scenery of this race is absolutely amazing and a privilege to capture so when you drop a thousand cyclists into this setting its amazing. The golden light and the dust just make it a privilege and we generally end up shooting from 5am till 11pm on any given day. I worked it out to roughly 1000 shots a day.”

Also at the launch were inaugural Epic women’s winners Hanlie Booyens and Sharon Laws. Now riding her sixth Epci, she spoke of the first Epic back in 2004.

“It was a big adventure but we knew that one day it would be something big. If I could give any advice my best suggestion would be to find the right partner! If you can get through this race then you truly have a friend for life.”


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