Top South African mountain biker Candice Lill finished her first Absa Cape Epic in 2017 “hungry for more”.
Lill used last year’s race as preparation for 2018, a wise head on young shoulders discovering what the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race was all about.
“I had a very good experience at my first Absa Cape Epic, which is exactly how I wanted it to be,” said the 25-year-old Lill. “I had no pressure. I was there to experience, learn and grow. I finished most days with a smile on my face because I had prepared and was ready for how tough the race can be.
“The idea for 2017 was to be part of the race, but always have a little bit left in the tank at the end of the stage. Being a relatively young rider, I am so grateful for the advice I took to approach my first Absa Cape Epic like this. I left the race feeling hungry for more. This is why I’m back in 2018 ready to give it a good go. I am sure it will be totally different ball game, but let’s chat afterwards.”
Lill finished sixth in 2017 with Namibian Vera Adrian, but will race the 15th Absa Cape Epic with Adelheid Morath of Germany for Team dormakaba. Morath, who will ride in her third Epic, was fourth last year with Ariane Lüthi, the three-time winner of the Women’s category.
“Take one glance at Adelheid, and you know she can climb, very fast! I am sure I will be suffering up many a mountain. I don’t want to give away too many secrets here, but what I believe is Adelheid’s biggest strength is her honesty, communication and ability to look after a team mate. We have different strengths and weaknesses on the bike, but that can all be optimised with the above three aspects. I look forward to working with her and learning from her.”
Lill finished the Epic with renewed respect for all who finish the race, saying you cannot have ridden it and not built some solid character. “If I meet someone who has finished the Ansa Cape Epic, I immediately know that they must have a strong mind, have the ability to overcome challenges, and be able to endure some level of pain – be it physical, emotional etc.”
The two main lessons she learnt last year were that “you are only as strong as your teamwork” and the “race is looooonnnggg and unpredictable”. “To work as a team is a skill that many people don’t possess. It is not given the emphasis it deserves, because it is possibly one of the biggest factors to achieve success. In every situation, think about your partner- how are they feeling? Where are they? Will it be better for them if I do/don’t do this? Will it give them a mental edge if I let them ride on the front? And they must do the same for you.”
“This race is not won on any single day. Therefore, do not panic if you are having a bad day or losing time because you had to fix a mechanical. Do the best you can do in the situation and never ever give up chasing. The pendulum swings and the next day you might be playing with a completely different set of cards.”
“I think there is a good balance of everything in this year’s route – long stages over 100km, shorter more technical stages, stages with crazy climbing and two ‘time trial’ stages. I am really excited about the Prologue on Table Mountain because I love the atmosphere with the crowds, and the excitement and anticipation in the air. I am also looking forward to the stages in Wellington as I feel they suit my style of riding. I have always enjoyed the trails in that area.”
*The 2018 Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race takes place from 18 to 25 March and the much anticipated route can be viewed here.
Source: Cape Epic Media