MTB

From Absa Cape Epic legend to "tour guide"

By Absa Cape Epic

So what did Absa Cape Epic veteran José Hermida tell partner and fellow Spaniard Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez he was signing up for when he took on his first Absa Cape Epic next week?

“He sold the Absa Cape Epic to me as a tourist trip,” laughed Rodriguez, who retired from road riding last year after a glittering career that included 14 stage victories in the Grand Tours. “He promised me the good weather, but I got scared when I saw the wind at the road race last weekend. He said it would be good food, good people and easy courses.”

The irrepressible Hermida, who also retired from competitive mountain biking last year after five top 10 finishes at the Cape Epic, was not exactly sympathetic in his response to his friend: “It is funny to see that a guy with such a big CV is so nervous”.

Whatever happens out on the route, there is unlikely to be a more voluble pairing than the Spaniards. Hermida said he was looking forward to riding as a “tour guide” further back in the field this year because riders there all talk to one another and have “more fun than (five-time winner) Karl Platt and company”.
 
Credit: Absa Cape Epic

Former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, preparing for his first Absa Cape Epic, said: “I like Jose’s description of being a tour guide. George (Hincapie, Evans’s partner in the race) has done one mountain bike race … and that was last month.”

“I have no idea what we are in for,” said the Australian. “But once we put the race number on I am sure the competitive spirit will kick in.”

Olympic gold medallist Jenny Rissveds of Sweden was also taking a laid-back approach to the race this year, using it as a learning experience for a more serious assault in years to come: “I really have no idea what to expect,” she said.

South African professional Mariske Strauss, riding with Briton Annie Last
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