After eight days of grueling mountain bike racing through South Africa, the two winning teams showed that you don’t become a world champion by chance.
Langvad preserves perfect Cape Epic record, van der Breggen stellar in debut
The Invstec-Songo-Specialized team of Anna van der Breggen and Annika Langvad, currently road and cross country marathon world champions, walked away with the win in the women’s race. The pair won seven of the eight race days on their way to a 30 minute winning margin.
Langvad has now won the Cape Epic an incredible, and record tying five times. Despite the race’s reputation for unpredictability, with top contenders often struck down by illness, injury or mechanical problems, the dominant Dane has yet to walk away from the finish line in Stellenbosch, South Africa with anything less than gold.
“The Absa Cape Epic is always so intense, the ups and downs … it has been so emotional this year,” said Langvad following the final finish line. “It has been such a good week and I have really enjoyed riding with Anna and forming a new partnership. It has been a blast.”
Having Anna van der Breggen as a teammate this year surely helped. The Dutch world champion is known for her success on the road, but she proved immediately adept on the challenging South African trails. Despite many years of long hours in the saddle training for pro women’s road races, the Olympic champion says the Cape Epic may have reset the bar for difficulty:
“Sometimes I did not like the suffering, but it was such a nice thing to do. I do not think my body has ever been this tired and I do not think I have ever spent so many hours on the bike in one week,” said van der Breggen “It was hard at the beginning, but now I know how it feels to achieve what we did.”
Schurter finds success in South Africa
While Nino Schurter has been hard to beat on the World Cup circuit, he only had one Cape Epic win to his name before this year’s start in Stellenbosch. Partnering with European XCO champion Lars Forster, racing his first ever Cape Epic created a winning combination.
The two Swiss riders recovered from one misstep mid-week, when a flat tire for Forster forced them onto the defensive. After temporarily giving up the race lead to Henrique Avancini and Manuel Fumic, Forser and Schurter rallied to win by a margin of 7:36 ahead of the Cannondale Factory Racing team.
“This was amazing,” Schurters exclaimed after the finish. “It’s a really special one to win. It’s really tough to win this race you need to have a lot of good luck and a strong team. We are super stoked about it.”
Forster was equally excited about the win, and happy to have help from his teammate on the final days. “Yesterday I was suffering and today I was suffering more,” said Scott-SRAM’s Cape Epic rookie. “Luckily I had a strong horse with me who still had some left in the tank.”