Swiss/SA connection ready to take on Cape Epic | SASCOC - SASCOC

Swiss/SA connection ready to take on Cape Epic

Newly formed Swiss/South African duo Nino Schurter (27) and London Olympian Philip Buys (24) will participate in this year’s Absa Cape Epic, which takes place from 23-30 March.

They’ll compete as team Scott-Odlo Racing over the dramatic new route of the event, now in its 11th year.

The race, the biggest of its kind in the world, will offer both local and international mountain biking enthusiasts the opportunity to participate in an eight-day mountain bike race of 718 kilometres, and with approximately 14 850m of climbing before the the final stage again finishes at Lourensford Wine Estate.

Schurter has won the World Cup overall three times and has 11 World Cup wins to his name. He is a two-time Olympic medallist, and also a silver medallist at the 2011 Cross-country World Championships and the Under-23 World Champion twice. He is also four-times Cross-country European Champion and six times Swiss Champion.

For his part, Buys, pictured racing here in last week’s Epic, is the current African Cross-country Champion, the 2013 South African Cross-country Champion and has four Absa Cape Epics under his belt.

Says Schurter ÔÇ£We’re racing together for the first time and I’m really looking forward to it. Philip is a great guy and a great talent. His experiences on stage races in the South African heat and my experiences in cross-country races will make us super strong.┬áOur goal is to win the race. You always need a little bit of luck to successfully complete the Absa Cape Epic.ÔÇØ

Buys adds that he feels honored to ride with the fastest rider on the planet. ÔÇ£I’m slightly nervous, but my excitement overpowers the nervousness. And I feel confident!┬á We have great support, ride the best equipment and are training hard, so we’re making sure our chances are good.ÔÇØ

With regards to training together, Schurter comments: ÔÇ£We’re doing training camps in Stellenbosch. My training is different to that of previous years. I’m focusing more on stage races in the first half of the year, so I’m training more on long distance.ÔÇØ Buys adds: ÔÇ£In previous years, the Absa Cape Epic just formed part of my build-up for the rest of the season. This year, the event is a peak of my 2014 season with preparations starting a few weeks earlier.ÔÇØ

Schurter has not studied the route, but says: the ÔÇ£Absa Cape Epic routes are always tough, but our combined skills and experience will make us one of the favourite teams for first place.ÔÇØ Buys reckons: ÔÇ£Racing is unpredictable and it’s best to take it day by day. We both have a few years’ experience racing the Absa Cape Epic and I think we’re both very efficient bike riders ÔÇô efficiency is key to winning this raceÔÇØ.

Schurter will never forget his first Absa Cape Epic: ÔÇ£During my first event in 2010 I bonked while in the lead with Florian Vogel on the last 10km of a stage. This experience I will never forget.ÔÇØ Buys concludes: ÔÇ£My highlight is definitely sprinting for the stage win with Matthys (Beukes) on the final day at last year’s Absa Cape Epic!

“I think this year’s race will be an enjoyable experience and the more fun we have, the less the pain will be and the better our result will be. I’m excited for the challenge!ÔÇØ

Picture: Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS