For Trek-Pirelli, the 2019 Absa Cape Epic was a memorable one for two contrary reasons.
Firstly, an overall third-place for Damiano Ferraro and Samuele Porro was worthy of celebrations. Secondly, a horrific finish line crash which ended the race for Michele Casagrande and Fabian Rabensteiner. In 2020, Damiano Ferraro and Samuele Porro will race as Trek-Pirelli 1 in a bid to improve on their third place at the 2019 Absa Cape Epic where they finished behind SCOTT-SRAM MTB-Racing and Cannondale Factory Racing. Last year’s podium was not the first time that the two Italians have set foot on the podium, though. Before the 2019 edition, in their first encounter with the Untamed African MTB Race in 2016, Ferraro and Porro raced their way to third behind Bulls and Centurion Vaude by Meerendal 2. Interestingly to note, the 2020 and 2016 Absa Cape Epics are of similar distance and climbing and will visit several familiar locations and trails; something that may reinforce the hopes of the Italians given their last performance in the regions.
“Time flies but I will always remember the last time we visited those regions” Samuele Porro reflected over his last visit to Ceres, Tulbagh and surrounds. “Really technical and super hot days – my best conditions for racing. The Cape Epic is hard on the body but also on the mind, so we’ll try focus on our own strengths and our own race without thinking too much about how the other factory teams perform.”
“Last year’s third-place was a result that has given us confidence going into 2020, but each edition of the Absa Cape Epic is a different story” explained Damiano Ferraro when asked about the team’s position ahead of the 2020 race. “Having several Cape Epics behind you sure helps a lot and gives you the experience needed to manage the physical, emotional and mechanical demands – most importantly, it gives you a clear idea of the terrain you’ll encounter. I am excited to race with Samuele again – we understand each other without having to talk.”
The technical and demanding 2020 Absa Cape Epic route promises to measure each rider, and their equipment, in every manner possible. Disaster is never more than a split-second away – something that was proven last year, by Trek – Pirelli 2 when Michele Casagrande and Fabian Rabensteiner crashed out of the race after locking bars on Stage 5’s finish line. Casagrande and Rabensteiner did bounce back after the unfortunate encounter with the Untamed and ended 2019 on a positive note when they claimed the overall win at the Swiss Epic in Switzerland’s Graubünden Canton.
“The victory at the Swiss Epic was really important for me and Fabian, especially after the unfortunate end to the 2019 Cape Epic” Casagrande admitted. “We needed a positive result to regain confidence and knowledge that we can fight at the highest level. In 2020, we want to improve on our previous results, and we are working hard to ensure we can.” “There have been many beautiful moments in the Cape Epic for me, but the best was our victory at the Grand Finale at Val de Vie in 2018” reflected Rabensteiner. “I certainly expect a better race than last year! Our training is proceeding well and we expect a great Absa Cape Epic in 2020.”
With 647 kilometres of gruelling trails,15 550 metres of climbing, as well as the world’s finest mountain bikers to contend with, Trek – Pirelli 1 and 2 have a challenging Absa Cape Epic ahead of them, but these two teams are worth keeping an eye on. Tune in the Live Broadcast of the Absa Cape Epic’s Untamed action as it happens from 15 – 22 March 2020 on www.cape-epic.com.
| IMAGES: Nick Muzik, Mark Sampson, Sam Clark |