SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing Triumph at 2017 Absa Cape Epic

STORY BY Patrick 29th March 2017

Nino Schurter, Matthias Stirnemann, Jenny Rissveds and Thomas Frischknecht were dominate at what is popularly regarded as “the World`s toughest mountain bike stage race” in South Africa.

The four, all part of the SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing team swept the podium on the final race day of the 2017 Absa Cape competition. (all images credit: Michal Cerveny)

The final day of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic saw a speedy, fast rolling 85km stage from Oak Valley to Val de Vie in the Western cape region. Cape Epic participants had to ride over Franchhoek pass. That seven kilometre haul rises nearly 400m, marking the last major climb of the Cape Epic  before descending into the magnificent valley of Franchhoek.

After some twists and turns around Franschhoek and some small climbs the route took riders past Victor Verster prison and the iconic statue of Nelson Mandela taking his first steps to freedom. And finally, 691kms after starting in Meerendal and after 15 400m of vertical gain, the crowds at the finish line awaited the finishers at Val de Vie.

Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann as well as Olympic Champion Jenny Rissveds and Thomas Frischknecht won their respective categories, the Men`s Elite and the Mixed Category whilst SCOTT-SRAM Young Guns Andri Frischknecht and Michiel van der Heijden secured their second stage win today at the 7th stage from Oak Valley to Val de Vie.

“This is one of the best weeks I experienced throughout my 30 years lasting cycling career,” said Frischknecht afterwards, continuing,

“I am incredibly proud of the achievements of this entire team this past week, not only of the racers but also of the entire support crew. What this entire team achieved is what money can`t buy. We`ve experienced a week of passionate and authentic SCOTT team spirit. Our lead team managed to ride eight tough race days without a single mechanical- that is almost unbelievable. What makes me almost more happy than our overall win is the great performance of our so-called ‘Back-Up-Team’. Our Young Guns not only proved that they are capable of racing at the highest level. With two stage wins and their relentless efforts in supporting Nino and Matthias, their overall performance can’t be rated high enough.”

The current Olympic and world champion admitted that the strategy was always to come and win the Absa Cape Epic, BUT he had not planned to do so until 2018!

“The plan was to come here in 2018 and win, but we are a year early!” said Schurter. “This is very special. To win the Olympics and then come to South Africa and win the Absa Cape Epic, that is great. After Rio it was always my intention to come and win the race, but this has taken us by surprise. I thought next year would be our year. We are ahead of schedule.”

Nino`s first overall win comes in his fourth Cape Epic – his previous best had been a fifth place in 2014.

Schurter added, “It`s been an amazing week for our entire team. We always said we wanted to come here and just do a good race and make sure my team mates get an impression of the race, then eventually go for the win in 2018. But thanks to a huge team effort, especially an unbelievable performance of Andri Frischknecht and Michiel van der Heijden, our Young Guns, we just got perfectly through the entire week. Matthias and myself did not have a single mechanical, no flat tire, nothing. It was the perfect week for us, we rode smoothly, never over paced, we didn`t do any major mistakes with regards to strategy, nutrition or regeneration, and besides the perfect bike and material that was key to finally win it. I am super proud of our entire team, and the excellent support we got from all of our staff.”

Jenny Rissveds said, “I am so relieved. To win the Cape Epic is a huge thing for me. I have never been into stage racing, and I was actually not sure that I will make it. The past eight days have been very emotional, it was a tough start into the week under pretty intense circumstances; heat, draught, strong winds, sandy trails- it was racing as hard as it could get. However my partner Thomas Frischknecht guided me perfectly through the week, I couldn`t imagine a better race buddy than him. What makes me even more proud than wining our category is to see how our team worked this week- we’ve been one family and our support was just amazing. I also rode a new SCOTT Spark RC 900, I never rode 29ers before. And also riding with an adjustable seat post was new to me- I love it and I think I will never ever ride without it anymore.”


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