Esther Suss and Jennie Stenerhag during stage 5 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 24th March 2017. Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS
As in 2017, Stenerhag is planning on building towards the Absa Cape Epic through challenging early-season events and has already raced to victory this season, at the 121-kilometre-long Attakwas Extreme. Rieder, who is honing her form in the European winter, will make her South African 2020 debut in the Koue Bokkeveld, joining Stenerhag in the Tankwa Trek, which has forged a reputation as the ultimate pre-Absa Cape Epic form check. It will, however, not be their first outing as a team as they paired up for the Wines2Whales in October 2019.
Nadine Rieder (R) and Sabine Spitz (L) during the Prologue of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa on the 17th March 2019. Photo by Sam Clark/Cape Epic
“For me, the most important thing is that I can race with a partner who is not only on a similar level on the performance side but furthermore I think it’s great if the harmony, on the personal side, is there too” Rieder added by way of agreement. “And after racing Wines2Whales together I definitely can say that we are a perfect team, on and off the bike.”
Esther Suss and Jennie Stenerhag during stage 3 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Elandskloof in Greyton, South Africa on the 22nd March 2017
Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS
For Rieder, the 2020 race provides an opportunity to prepare fully for the unique challenges of the Untamed. “Last year it was a very last-minute start for me and I’m happy that I performed that well without proper preparation for it,” she said, referencing the fourth-place finish alongside Sabine Spitz. “This year my preparation was different. I changed coach last season, to South African Jeroen Swart, and my feeling is pretty good. So, let’s see what we can do. But the most important thing is to get safely through the eight days of racing. If we do that then I think everything is possible…”