The Cape Epic champions, Karl Platt from Germany and Urs Huber from Switzerland, are set to defend their title at the Momentum Health Tankwa Trek taking place at Kaleo Guest Farm in the Western Cape. The race will take place between 11 – 13 February 2017.
Presented by Biogen, the Momentum Health Tankwa Trek will be Platt and Huber’s first race together since the TransAlp, last July. The well-drilled pair will also be joined by their Bulls stablemates, Tim Boehme and Simon Stiebjahn at Tankwa Trek, which offers three days of challenging routes through the Kouebokkeveld region of the Western Cape province.
“Tankwa Trek will be a mini-Cape Epic for us. We are taking it really seriously, not just the riders, but the whole support crew too. We have new bikes since last year, but otherwise everything else is the same, including our motivation,” said Platt.
“The terrain and the gradients at the Tankwa Trek are similar to the Cape Epic. I have some good form as I saw at the Attakwas and Urs has been doing his huge training block as normal in Grand Canaria. It’s always exciting when we race together again after a long break and we are keen to hold onto our titles – Tankwa Trek and Cape Epic,” smiled Platt.
Now an International Cycling Union (UCI)-graded event, the fifth edition of the Tankwa Trek has drawn some of the world’s biggest mountain bike racing stars, many of them using the race as a preparation event ahead of next month’s Absa Cape Epic.
With wins at both his 2017 races so far, Sauser is clearly back to peak form, while Gaze, the Under-23 XCO world champion, will be a year wiser and stronger and as hungry as Sauser for a Tankwa Trek victory.
Topeak-Ergon will be fielding both their teams, the first comprising 2015 Marathon World Champion, Alban Lakata of Austria and 2014 Cape Epic winner, Kristian Hynek of the Czech Republic and the second made up of South Africa’s Erik Kleinhans and American Jeremiah Bishop. It’s no secret that their primary goal for 2017 is to win the Cape Epic and they’ll be using the Tankwa Trek as a key part of their preparation.
Quite possibly the dark-horse team is the Goldwurst Power BMC duo of Lukas Flückiger and Nicola Rohrbach. Flückiger won the 2016 Swiss Epic and is currently ranked 19th in the world, while Rohrbach won last month’s Snow Bike Festival and finished second overall at last year’s Cape Epic.
Leading the South African challenge are Team NAD’s Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck. They were fourth last year at their first attempt and will know what to expect this time around as they challenge for the podium. Another strong South African team is the Telkom BCX pair of Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger. Woolcock was third overall last year (with Darren Lill), while Kruger was fifth at the recent Attakwas, confirming his good form and showing Woolcock that he’s sure to be a very capable teammate.
Also expected to feature at the front of the race is the South African/Swiss pairing of Matt Beers and Konny Looser (Red-E Ryder).
The women’s division is packed with strong teams, all in pursuit of the generous prize money, UCI rankings points and Cape Epic preparation.
Former Tankwa Trek winner, Ariane Lüthi, the Swiss marathon champion, will be using the race to get to know her new Cape Epic teammate, Germany’s Adelheid Morath. Racing as Team Spur, they will be wary of the Team Meerendal/CBC pairing of Switzerland’s Esther Süss and Sweden’s Jennie Stenerhag. Youngsters, Candice Lill and Vera Adrian, racing as Team dormakaba will also be daily and overall podium contenders as they set their sights on tackling their first Cape Epic next month.
Other strong combinations are the OMX Pro/Ultimate Cycling pair of Mariske Strauss and Yolande de Villiers and the Garmin/Galileo Risk team of Yolandi du Toit and Theresa Ralph.
The total cash purse for the 2017 Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen is up by an impressive 60% and sits at R410 000, which includes R80 000 each for the winning men and women’s teams and R10 000 for the first men and women’s teams each to the summit of the Merino Monster on Day 2.
The race stages are as follow:
- Friday 11 February: 89km | 1990m ascent
- Saturday 12 February: 87km | 2200m ascent
- Sunday 13 February: 89km | 1250m ascent