It is the jersey nobody wants, but at the 2014 Absa Cape Epic quite a few big names are taking the white Outcast jersey home with them.
Since day one at this year’s event, big names have been dropping out of the race due to illness or injury. It started with Hannes Genze, followed by four-times champion Karl Platt and then former yellow zebra-striped jersey holder Rudi van Houts. South Africans Renay Groustra and Waylon Woolcock could also not continue. Genze, Platt and Van Houts all crashed. Genze injured his elbow and Van Houts his upper leg. Platt had a big crash at full speed on a downhill on day 3. His bike squeezed his knee pretty badly.
Now the group of Outcasts consists of elite racers like Urs Huber, José Hermida, Konny Looser, Darren Lill and Daniel Gathof.
All of them agreed that this might not be what they had in mind when the Absa Cape Epic started on Sunday, but that they are making the most of a somewhat unwanted situation.
“We’re outcasts, but we’re never alone!” said Hermida, resident comedian. “Our Epic might be over, but we have to keep our season alive. This is good training rides for all of us. At the Epic, you always have friends around. It’s not like other races where we’re enemies. It’s a new experience for me, but I’m wearing this with as much pride as possible. I miss Rudi, but at least he’s okay. I’m riding in the Elite second division now!”
Looser admitted that the first day in the white jersey was not easy. “The first day was hard. You’re disappointed, but you realise there’s nothing you can do about it. Today we had lots of fun and it was a beautiful stage. We’re a strong group. We’re having fun together and sharing some laughs. It’s also good for training.”
Huber said with a wry smile. “We did have a lot of fun today with the single track and no pressure, but I prefer a jersey that has more yellow on it!”