Cape Town, South Africa (2 March 2023) – Amy Wakefield has completed four Absa Cape Epics thus far, winning the inaugural Absa African Women’s Jersey alongside Candice Lill in 2018. In those four finishes she has notched up three top-five finishes in the CM.com Women’s category, and a second place in the Toyota Mixed category. Her partner for 2023, Irina Luetzelschwab, will be starting her first Absa Cape Epic. They did, however, team up late in the year, last year, to great effect; finishing second in another Epic Series event in South Africa.
The team that pipped them to the title in October will be their rivals this March; though the Efficient Insure Infiniti combination, of Kim le Court and Vera Looser, are far from the only threats they will have to keep an eye on. In what looks, on paper, to be the most open CM.com Women’s category race in years there are four teams with a realistic chance of challenging for victory.
“We are a strong team for the Absa Cape Epic,” Luetzelschwab confidently noted. “I believe this because we know how to work perfectly together and we can be calm in every situation. I know already that it will be one of the big highlights of 2023 for me! It’s a dream come true to be at the start line with a great partner.”
“I guess we'll take it as it comes,” Wakefield explained of their team’s tactics. “We aren’t interested in stage wins, only the general classification; which means riding smart, keeping it tidy and playing the long game. Of course, if we're feeling great then we'll go for a stage win, but that's not our primary objective.”
Both Wakefield and Luetzelschwab agree that Stage 5 could be pivotal. “It's really hard to say which stage will be the decider, but my guess would be the Queen stage,” the South African predicted. “It's going to be harsh, rugged and completely brutal! I swing between looking forward to it and dreading it. Perhaps it's okay to settle on a bit of both?”
“I’m really looking forward to Stages 3 and 5,” her Swiss partner smiled. “I like the longer and more technical stages. I know the whole race will be tough and the terrain will be rough, but on those stages in particular we’ll need good tyres and enough tyre sealant as an additional precaution.”
Adding her views on the ideal bike set-up for the Absa Cape Epic Wakefield said: “I've put a dropper post on, but I'm undecided on tyre choice. I will be changing them, depending on the stage, and the same goes for the front chainring size. If I could, I would have put a bigger fork on; but I'm too small, unfortunately. For most riders, I do think a 120-millimetre travel fork is a good idea, though.”
“We are going for the win,” Wakefield confirmed, before concluding: “The Absa Cape Epic is certainly a peak event for me. It is one I fully believe I can succeed in, but I just haven't got it right yet. It’s the pinnacle of stage racing in the world, the ‘Tour de France of mountain biking’ as some people say. As a professional athlete, it’s where you want to be performing and ultimately winning.”
Watch Wakefield and Luetzelschwab, of e-Fort Symbtech, take on the rest of the CM.com Women’s field at the 2023 Absa Cape Epic from the 19th to the 26th of March. Mountain biking fans can watch the live broadcast, daily, on www.epic-series.com/capeepic.
All Images by Cape Epic.