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Sauser back for Epic

Former world cross-country champion and twice World Cup Overall Champion (with 16 World Cup wins behind his name), Christoph Sauser, has confirmed his participation in this year’s Absa Cape Epic.

The event, which is in its seventh year, will take place from 21-28 March 2010.

Sauser will again team up with South Africa’s super talented young mountain biking champion and 2008 Olympian, Burry Stander, to ride the eight stages of the magical and untamed African mountain bike race.

The dramatic new route of the event will be as challenging as previous years. The race, the biggest of its kind in the world, will offer both local and international mountain biking enthusiasts the opportunity to participate in an eight-day mountain bike race of 722 kilometres with roughly 14 635m of climbing, again ending at its traditional Lourensford Wine Estate finish.

Sauser, who has been racing professionally since 1993, won the 2006 Absa Cape Epic with fellow Swiss rider Silvio Bundi. This will be the third consecutive year that he races with Stander as team Sauser lives in the mountain village of Sigriswil in the Swiss Alps, and spends at least two months training in Stellenbosch each year.

Twenty-two-year-old Stander, who lives and trains in Port Shepstone, Kwazulu-Natal, is the current Under-23 World Champion as well as the 2008 and 2009 World Cup Champion, and finished in third position overall in last year’s UCI World Cup series.
Sauser, who has participated in the Absa Cape Epic every year since 2006, says he really enjoys this event. ÔÇ£I love stage racing! It creates stories, rivalry and friendship over so many days. It’s tough and a win is worth so much more compared to a one-day race. The Absa Cape Epic is also very well organised with big hype surrounding it, and we ride through beautiful┬álandscapes.ÔÇØ This will be Stander’s third Absa Cape Epic, which he describes as ÔÇ£a very unique challengeÔÇØ.

Riding together for the third year in a row and having won four of the seven stages last year, Sauser says that ÔÇ£it’s is our big goal to finally win this year! But, this event is unpredictable, even if you’re considered to be one of the strongest teams.ÔÇØ

Stander adds: ÔÇ£After the last two years, I know not to be too confident. But we’re in good shape this year, and hopefully luck will be on our side.ÔÇØ

With regards to the revised UCI Rules, Sauser feels that they have improved for the better. ÔÇ£In any┬ároad stage race you have team cars supporting you, and outside assistance is allowed. We should therefore also be allowed similar privileges as we ride through such rough terrain. In addition, the cost for any team to participate in the event is enormous, so the rules must be reasonable. The race has to stay alive – and most importantly, the strongest team has to be able to win!ÔÇØ

For Stander not that much has changed. ÔÇ£Yes, there are more tech zones but they’re still far apart. If you have problems at the wrong time, it’ll cost you the race for sure.ÔÇØ

According to Sauser, the two train together quite often. ÔÇ£Since we are Specialised team mates, we ride together often at the races and team camps in Stellenbosch.ÔÇØ He adds with a smile: ÔÇ£The one day we even rode back from a World Cup to my home. It was way too long and we sucked at the next race the weekend after. I guess those mountain passes were too much for us.┬áWe’re a great team, and we have a lot of fun together and can motivate each other.ÔÇØ

Sauser’s advice for other participants is ÔÇ£go into the race with a specific and attainable goal, try find some groups with similar strengths, train for it so you can enjoy it, have a cold beer at the finish and eat Swiss chocolate!ÔÇØ Stander adds: ÔÇ£Don’t over think before the race. Go out there and take it as it comes. Stressing about things will only tire you out before the start.ÔÇØ