In just a few days time Orange Monkey Pro Team will be making their debut in the Absa Cape Epic with team riders represented in both the women and men UCI races.
African Champion Mariske Strauss will take to the start line along side Hanlie Booysens for Pragma Orange Monkey. Strauss is in incredible form having taken a series of podium finishes recently, including convincing victories in two UCI Olympic Cross Country races this month, at the Western Cape Open and the Cascades Classic in Pietermaritzburg. Booysens was victorious in the 2009 Cape Epic and has been a podium finisher in on numerous occasions. Such experience will be a valuable for Strauss in her first epic and this pairing could make an impact on the overall, although Strauss is aiming purely to use her first outing to gain experience.
In the UCI Mens race Ben Roff is paired with Rob Wardell to make up the Paarl Media Orange Monkey Pro team. These riders have had mixed fortunes in South Africa. Ben has had solid results in the previous two races with a 10th place finish in the Western Cape Open and 15th in the Cascades Classic. Rob has looked good in training and in the lead up to both races, however illness in the Western Cape Open and a severe crash resulting in concussion in the Cascades Classic have meant he is still to finish a race. Rob has made a good recovery since his accident on Saturday and is feeling good ahead of this early season test.
‘The Epic’ is an early season objective for all of the riders. Eight days, Eight stages, nearly 15,000 meters of climbing and over 700 kilometers is what stands between the riders and the finish line. It is a race which has earned the unofficial accolade as the mountain bike Tour de France. It is a fantastic milestone for Orange Monkey to be able to field a team in.
All three riders will have one last opportunity to race before they roll down the start ramp at the Absa Cape Epic in Meerendal Wine Estate this Sunday. The Aramex Songo.info Champions Race in Kayamandi township on the outskirts of Stellenbosch takes place on Wednesday evening with all three Orange Monkey Pro Team riders being honored with an invitation from the race organisers, including World Champion Christoph Sauser.
Orange Monkey team sponsor Paarl Media are also fielding three other teams in the Masters, Mixed and UCI Mens categories. Riders from Orange Monkey and Paarl Media have been training and racing together over the last two weeks and the team riders have been impressed with the local talent. Rab said “It has been great to get to know the Paarl Media team over the last two weeks. On our group ride there was a great mix of youth and experience in the team and it’s clear to see the support of the team and coaching structure within is working well! It’s been great to see Paarl Media riders on the podium at the races.”