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Unsung heroes of the Untamed African MTB Race

2018-11-14

The lion’s share of media attention at the Absa Cape Epic is understandably focused on the elite mountain bikers, including numerous world and national champions, global sports stars and celebrities. There are however hundreds of unsung, every-day, heroes who ride under the radar exceeding their own expectations and reaching life-long goals. The Untamed video series showcases three of these men and women – highlighting what it takes to prepare for the Absa Cape Epic.

The trio of riders chosen for the challenge is Tanya Roussouw, Nathier Salie and Riaan van Wyk. Each has a unique story and an affinity with the Absa Cape Epic. All three are aiming to accomplish their life-long goal of completing the race by crossing the finish line at Val de Vie Estate on the 24th of March 2019. These are their backstories…

The rose among the thorns, Tanya Roussouw is a remarkable woman in a male dominated field. Not only will she be one of only 120 or so woman on the 1 200 strong start list, but Roussouw is also an expert bicycle mechanic. In her chosen field she proves that whatever men can do women and do better – so much so in fact that her mechanic skills earned her an Absa Cape Epic call-up.

In 2018 Roussouw provided her mechanical services to a Chinese team, ensuring their bikes were in perfect running order throughout the gruelling eight day race. Unfortunately one of the riders in the team was forced to withdraw but the other was so impressed by Roussouw’s skills that he invited her to partner him in the 2019 race. Joking that she would be the perfect partner as nothing which broke on the trails would be un-fixable for Roussouw.

Salie is the only one of the three with an Absa Cape Epic start to his name, but his personal history with the race pre-dates his unsuccessful 2018 ride. As the Marketing Manager for Mediclinic, the event’s official medical partner, Salie worked behind the scenes for seven years before taking up the riding challenge himself.

Like many trying to balance a busy career with family and training commitments Salie started the race underprepared. Unfortunately this led to him having to withdraw on the opening marathon day due to the early stages of kidney failure. With hard lessons learnt Salie is back for another crack at the Absa Cape Epic in 2019. He will be partnered by his brother, which is sure to spur on a little rivalry during the long months of training.

The third member of the Untamed trio is Van Wyk. He is however by far the most enthusiastic – perhaps even the most excited rider on the 2019 start list. If a metric like excitement could be tested. His enthusiasm and excitement is due to the fact that after eight years on the waiting list he finally received an entry in the Absa Cape Epic lottery.

The race has been a bucket list item for much of Van Wyk’s adult life and he is throwing himself into the build-up with gusto. His passion does not stop at competing in the Absa Cape Epic himself though; Van Wyk has lived the race from the trail’s edge for more than a decade. He more than most is therefore looking forward to lining up to take on the same route as mountain biking’s celebrated stars, like Nino Schurter and Annika Langvad.

To share in Roussouw, Salie and Van Wyk’s journeys watch the first of the Untamed video series as it delves into what it takes to prepare for the 2019 Absa Cape Epic. 

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