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No Time for Post-Race Blues

2019-04-24

The 2019 Absa Cape Epic was for the vast majority of the riders taking part the pinnacle of their mountain biking years. For the elite men and women who contested the overall victory it was but goal one in a long season of peaking for races. Here’s what they have been up to in the month since the Untamed African MTB Race… 

Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing | Nino Schurter and Lars Forster
The winning team of the 2019 race took a break from competitive mountain biking after the Absa Cape Epic, skipping the opening round of the PROFFIX Swiss Bike Cup. With a week’s extra recovery Nino Schurter and Lars Forster both got back to action during Round 2 in Buch, on the 14th of April. Conditions were about as far from those the pair experienced in South Africa as you could imagine, with the mercury only just climbing above freezing. It rained steadily throughout much of race day, turning the course to sludge and ensuring that Schurter, Forster and co crossed the line caked in mud. The European XCO Champion prevailed over a stacked field which included the winner of the opening race of the series Mathias Flückiger as well as the talented French rider Titouan Carod. Andri Frischknecht was seventh on the day, while Schurter placed an uncharacteristic ninth. 

The next round of the Swiss Bike Cup is the Bike Days Solothurn and takes place on the 11th and 12th of May. The UCI MTB World Cup season starts the following weekend in Albstadt, Germany. So the Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing team’s participation in their national series could well depend on how the next training block unfolds. If Schurter and Forster need another race to sharpen their pace, expect them to turn out in Solothurn before making the 230 kilometre journey into Germany for the first World Cup of the season. 

Investec-songo-Specialized | Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen
The Investec-songo-Specialized team of Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen got back into racing together over the Easter Weekend in the Netherlands. The pair swapped knobblies for slicks along with an education and sporting charity for breast cancer awareness as they lined up for Boels–Dolmans. The Dutch Women’s World Tour team donned pink rather than their usual orange kits for the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday the 21st of April, where Anna finished thirteenth. The race signalled the start of a busy week for the women’s peloton with Amstel Gold followed by La Fleche Wallonne Feminine and Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes, the following Wednesday and Sunday. 

Langvad, meanwhile, has already raced her mountain bike since the Absa Cape Epic, turning out for Specialized at the Sea Otter Classic. The Dane won the XCO races at the American cycling festival, holding off Erin Huck on the 11th of April and Kate Courtney on the 14th of April. In her second Women’s World Tour outing on a road bike in 2018 she was pipped to third by Marianne Vos at Amstel Gold, finishing 10 seconds down on the race winner Katarzyna Niewiadoma. Her and Van Der Breggen’s attention now shifts to La Fleche Wallonne Feminine on Wednesday the 24th of April. Van Der Breggen is the defending champion and Langvad will join the Boels–Dolmans team in helping the World Champion win her fifth consecutive Flèche Wallonne. 

Cannondale Factory Racing | Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini
The 2019 Absa Cape Epic runners up, Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini have like many of the other elite riders been quiet until the last week or so. Training away from the prying eyes of the cycling media and only recently have they considered pinning numbers to their bikes again. Avancini was the first to test his legs, the Brazilian raced in his home country at the opening round of the Internacional Estrada Real series. He claimed victory in both the XCO and XCM event, on consecutive days on the 13th and 14th of April – showing that he has lost none of his impressive form. 

Fumic started his XCO racing season in Italy, on the 14th of April, alongside his Cannondale Factory Racing teammate Maxime Marotte. The day did not pan out as hoped for the German champion however as he could not finish the Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race in the Italian national series. 

The South African Contingent
The African Continental MTB Championships gave many of the local men and women their first taste of racing since the Absa Cape Epic. Among those who took part in Namibia were Candice Lill, Mariske Strauss, Sarah Hill, Alan Hatherly, Philip Buys, Matt Beers and Wessel Botha. 

Botha, who had a quiet Absa Cape Epic, stormed to victory in the Under 23 race; while Buys and Hatherly battled it out for the Elite men’s title. The South African champion Hatherly came out on top over the PYGA Euro Steel rider – whose attention now shifts once more to stage racing, with joBerg2c and sani2c rapidly approaching. 

The elite women’s title was claimed by the multiple South African champion Strauss, with her former teammate Cherie Redecker finishing second ahead of Lill, the Namibian champion Michelle Vorster and Hill. The Under 23 women’s title was won by Zambia’s Anita Yama, while star for the future Zandri Strydom dominated the junior women’s race.

UCI Cross-Country MTB World Cup Calendar
The UCI MTB World Cup season kicks off with a downhill only round in Maribor, Slovenia, on the 27th and 28th of April, but cross-country fans have nearly a month to wait still before seeing Schurter and co do battle again. Here is the full World Cup calendar, with the UCI MTB World Championship dates included. 

May 18-19: Albstadt, Germany

May 25-26: Nové Mesto, Czech Republic

July 6-7: Vallnord, Andorra

July 13-14: Les Gets, France

August 3-4: Val di Sole, Italy

August 10-11: Lenzerheide, Switzerland

August 31-September 1: UCI MTB World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada

September 7–8: Snowshoe, United States

 

 

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