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Youthful Exuberance Gaining Experience

2019-05-28

Between them Christoph Sauser and Kristian Hynek have eighteen Absa Cape Epic finishes and six titles. Their young partners, Simon Andreassen and Petter Fagerhaug, thus had experienced hands to guide them through their first attempts at the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race.

The Investec-songo-Specialized pair of Sauser and Andreassen finished fourteenth overall after the eight days of racing. While the Canyon pair of Hynek and Fagerhaug claimed a top ten finish, by racing to ninth overall. Both sets of youthful and experienced teams were happy with the results, banking experience for future tilts at the title.

 

“It was such an awesome experience” Andreassen enthused. “I’m so grateful to have had the chance to ride and learn from Susi [Christoph Sauser]. I learnt everything from race nutrition to tactics, but most importantly the routines which make everything a little bit easier.”

Echoing the words of his fellow Scandinavian, Fagerhaug said: “First of all, it gave me a huge confidence boost riding with Kristian [Hynek]; both in the preparation for the race and everything between the stages during the event. Kristian and his team organized everything, which made my job way too easy. I just went to South Africa and got some teaching in how the race works. Regarding bike and mechanical preparations, the Absa Cape Epic is quite different from what I’m used to in cross-country races. For a newbie, it’s easy to get fired up. The starts are important and can be worth spending some energy. However, being on the bike for several hours you have to find your pace. Kristian is a master of pacing; he keeps a steady pace going as efficiently as possible from here to there. That might be the biggest lesson I had during the race, which I will try to implement into later marathon events.”

Reflecting on the performance of his young partner, Sauser praised: “Simon [Andreassen] came with a total different approach into this Absa Cape Epic compared to my other first time partners [Burry Stander in 2010, Jaroslav Kulhavy in 2013 and Frantisek Rabon in 2014] They were always under pressure for the win.” “For Simon it was all about gaining experience and building a good base for the season. Simon got stronger and stronger during the race which is incredible for such a young talent. Luckily he also showed patience by waiting for me during the last days” the forty three year old Swiss legend laughed.

Despite their young age, both Andreassen and Fagerhaug are twenty one, Sauser believes the Absa Cape Epic will serve them well for the season to come. “I totally believe in the Absa Cape Epic for the World Cup season. It gives you such a good base and makes you deeply tough” the five time winner advised. “But what is key for a good season afterwards is to start totally recovered and take it easy for two weeks afterwards.”

The World Cup season did not start as well for the pair as they would have liked however. In the opening race of the campaign, at Albstadt in Germany, both performed below their usual level, with Andreassen placing twentieth and Fagerhaug fifteenth. The following weekend, in Nove Mesto na Morave, Andreassen rode his way to a podium place; finishing third. The Norwegian, who rides for Corendon–Circus during the World Cup races, secured a result four places better than he had managed the week before; finishing eleventh. Given the highly competitive nature of the Under 23 field and the notoriously topsy-turvy standings neither is out of the running for the overall title just yet though. In 2018 Fagerhaug was the most consistent age group racer topping the World Cup points table at the end of the season.

Mountain biking fans can thus keep a close eye on the pair and their Under 23 rivals as the World Cup season unfolds and the sub-plot develops. Perhaps their young legs just needed a few more weeks to build up their cross-country speed after the Absa Cape Epic’s marathon efforts? Time and racing will tell, but there is no doubting that their exceptional talent will shine through this season.

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