By FOCUS REPORTER
Seventeen-time World Cup Winner and Olympic medallist Thomas Frischknecht, one of the most prolific winners of cross-country events of all time, will
be partnering with sporting legend Urs Gerig for this year’s Absa Cape Epic.
As the World Cup Marathon Champion in 2003 and 2005, as well as the World Cup Cross Country Champion in 1996, Frischknecht will return due to the
‘great spirit of the event that is very special for a mountain bike race’.
Since its inaugural race in 2004, the Absa Cape Epic has fast become an institution on the global mountain biking calendar. As the largest mountain
bike team stage race in the world – and the only team stage race to be added to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) calendar – the race annually
hosts the world’s most accomplished and legendary mountain bike riders.
Forty year old Frischknecht needs no introduction. Often referred to as Europe’s Elder Statesman of mountain biking due to his extraordinarily long
career at the top level of the sport, he established himself as a professional since 1990.
Frischi (his nickname amongst the mountain biking fraternity) came second in the 1996 Mountain Bike World Championship and has
been at the top of his game since then. He has been Swiss Champion for several years and also the 2005 Marathon World Champion. He advocates
staying ‘fit for life’ and also encourages dope-free racing.
He is considered an excellent example of a clean sportsman (free from banned
His team mate and best friend Urs Gerig (45), also needs no introduction. He is a former middle distance runner and triathlete, as well as Frischknecht’s
former masseur and fitness coach. Gerig has also written a variety of books on mountain biking, hiking and so forth and is a top finisher in
Switzerland’s Gigathlon in the last few years.
Says Frischknecht: “Due to the fact that we’re best friends – that makes us a team, no matter what happens.” Gerig adds with a chuckle: “Not so long
ago, Thomas was one of the best riders in the world. He is still very fit and rides through the sandy sections very easily. All I have to do is hang
on his back wheel all day long.”
According to the duo, they would like to enjoy this year’s Absa Cape Epic rather than win it. Says Gerig: “Our goal is not to win! Odlo, our sponsor
for many years, is launching a new MTB clothing line. We will be part of the test team and ride in the new fabrics at the Cape Epic. We also have a blog
and will tell readers about our Cape Epic experiences with videoclips and pictures.”
They train together quite often as they live close to each other. Says Frischknecht: “I don’t really follow a special diet or training programme. I
ride when I find the time. At the moment, I’m about 5 kilos overweight.”
Gerig adds that he also does not follow a special diet. “A lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and fish once a week and everything is low fat.”
Frischknecht’s advice is to enjoy the ride. “Last year, Urs dropped out after stage two as he crashed and had to be taken to hospital, so I was on
my own. I hope we get to the finish together this year. I’m also really looking forward to riding in the sun after a long winter.” Gerig adds that
riding with his team mate is always a pleasure.
For Gerig, pacing yourself is important. “Train hard, but don’t suffer. Don`t look for excuses. Take advice from better athletes and see the whole
picture of life – sport is only one piece! Strengthen your weaknesses. And yes, most importantly enjoy it.” Gerig is also looking forward to “cutting
videos and writing Cape Epic stories, chatting to the other athletes, especially the ones I haven’t seen for a long time, but that I know from the
old days when I was travelling the world cup with Frischi.”
In his free time, Frishcknecht enjoys cycling and hopes to stay happy and healthy in 2011. Gerig would like to make it to the start of this year’s
Gigathlon in Switzerland.
From 27 March to 3 April, all eyes will be on the Western Cape as the world’s top riders vie for position in what is billed to be the most
competitive event in the race’s history. Covering a distance of 707km with 14 550m of climbing, the race will finish eight days later at
<http://www.lourensford.co.za> Lourensford Wine Estate.
Visit <http://www.cape-epic.com> www.cape-epic.com for more details and to see where the riders are online during the race.