The Cape Epic returns with a lot of glamour: Nibali, Luis Enrique…

Everything can change in a second a topic widely used in sports. In the case of the Cape Epic (March 19 to 26) is not a mere set phrase, it is something literal. The toughest marathon distance stage race in the world, popularly known as the ‘Tour de France mountain bike’, returns in 2023 in style, thanks to a route of extremely high physical demand that does not forgive, that hides a trap in each curve, in each descent… The more than 600 participants, who compete in pairs, will have to face an edition of the South African test consisting of 648 km, spread over eight days, and a whopping 15,475 meters of accumulated unevenness.

Only the bravest, the most daring, can face such a challenge, like a Sergio Mantecon (Santander, 38 years old) who knows very well what it means to be on the verge of a good result. Last year he went further with Francesc Guerra, but his teammate suffered a hard fall in the fifth stage that ruined his plans: three fractured ribs and retirement. “The moment you let your guard down, the race can mess you up at any time. You have to be focused every kilometer. Everything happens to you, and on a day of fat crisis you can perfectly lose 1 hour. That little thorn remains in us and let’s see if we can take it off this year”, Mantecón confesses to AS in the hours before his trip to South Africa, where this year He will share joys and sorrows with a José María Sánchez who knows what it is to finish in the top-5 of the general classification: “We have run quite a few races together, we know each other (They are part of the Scott Cala Bandida team) and we know the pace in which we have to go. Looking at the general I think we have ability to be in a top-5″.

Sergio Mantecón, in full race.


Sergio Mantecón, in full race.@cris_casal

To aspire to these privileged positions, the Spanish couple will have to face those who, in the words of Mantecón, are the top favorites to win the title: “The Germans Egger and Baum (current champions) they flew last year. In this one they are also in good shape and are strong candidates. Then the Canyon team (Andreas Seewald and Martin Stosek), who was competing with the former world champion in 2022. Willier Pirrelli (Fabian Rabensteiner and Wout Alleman) had a super strong Andalucía Bike Race, which is a bit like the drill prior to the Cape. Among these three couples may be the victory ”. Small details will make the difference, not only in the middle of the race, but also outside of it: “He gets up very early. The departures are around 7 in the morning, so you have to get up at 4 to have breakfast and digest. If you don’t respect the hours of sleep, with a brutal physical demand, you lose the ability to recover from one day to the next. That is the key. Here there is no transition like on the road, going to the wheel is almost useless. Each stage is death and destruction.”

A glamorous camp

In a Spanish key, it will also be interesting to closely follow the progression of the BH Templo Cafés duo that make up david valero, UCI world number one in 2022, and Pablo Rodriguez. They cannot be discarded in the battle for privileged positions, nor can a living legend of this sport, a Nino Schurter who will team up with fellow Swiss Andri Frischknecht. “Between us we already know each other and we know what our place can be. The Cape is like the MTB Tour de France, so all the teams go to death because they have specifically prepared it. It is a race very different from the rest. You have to preserve the mechanics and measure the forces very well ”, concludes Mantecón.

Beyond the competitive, the Cape is also an appointment of narrative, of telling stories. The great professionals share camp every day with the anonymous, the celebrities and the old glories of sport. In this last group, they go into action this year Vincenzo Nibali, winner of the three great cycling tours, and a Luis Enrique that needs no introduction. The Asturian ex-soccer player, who will try to be finisher for the third time in the Cape, quite an example of inspiration, as Mantecón confesses: “Cycling and MTB have gone up a lot. It is not surprising that well-known people take to practicing our sport. It is admirable that a person like Luis comes to have a good time. He goes with his friends and enjoys his sport. Our role is also to inspire other people. It helps that such well-known people practice our sport to bring it closer to other people who doesn’t know him.” Val de Vie awaits the heroes from him.

Recent Articles

Related News

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here