Land Rover’s sponsored 10-man team is on fast tracked training for the grueling eight-day 2016 ABSA Cape Epic mountain bike race, which starts in less than a month on March 13

Towards the end of 2015, Land Rover signed a three-year sponsorship agreement and was announced as the 2016 ABSA Cape Epic’s official vehicle and route partner. This will see Land Rover’s highly capable vehicles being used for transport and logistics during the running of the toughest mountain bike race in the world. Land Rovers will also be used to explore and develop routes on the tough off-road and mountainous sections of the Epic. Each day of the race, participants will face the Land Rover Technical Terrain section of the course, as chosen by the route’s designers. Riders will be pushed to their limits and require exceptional skill to conquer these segments.

Heading the pack is Team Land Rover captain John Smit, and his team mate Shane Chorley. Smit will be joined by Mike “Amashova” Nixon, riding with partner Shane Barker.Nixon is currently preparing for his final training stretch. Recently he took to the steep gravel trails of Sani Pass, when he joined Land Rover ambassador Kingsley Holgate on the Sani Pass Series 1 Expedition. The mission was part of the Right To Sight programme. Mike is one of only five “Last Lions (Amabubesi)” to complete all 12 Epic races, and this year will be his 13th. 

Completing the active achiever team is Gerhard Moolman with Phillip Van Zyl, Riaan Launspach riding with Pieter Theron and former Natal and South African national team centre Jeremy Thomson with team mate John Slade.  Into his fifth Epic challenge, Thomson is an avid mountain biker and is a veteran of several previous editions of the tough multi-stage Cape mountain bike race. The passionate mountain biker turned his hand to cycling a few years after his rugby playing days ended, and quickly gravitated to the mountain biking community. Riding the local one day MTB classics over the weekends and including a fair amount of trips along the Holla Trails in Ballito and Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park for the more technical rides, Thomson said that he was ready for the pure adventure and camaraderie associated with the Epic event.“My intention is to keep it light hearted, stick together on the ride, enjoy the banter, be there for the benefit of others and not only ourselves, and make sure we finish each and every stage in one piece!” 

Into his third ABSA Cape Epic with the goal of qualifying for the ‘Amabubesi Club’, lead rider John Smit said he felt privileged to participate in the unique racing experience in the company of good friends, while at the same time making memories. Determined to be mentally and physically at his peak, Smit has put himself on a strict diet and training regime.

“Training is the tough part and I started earnestly in October with some big hours on the bike. During December I went big in Hermanus where I spent a fair amount of time in the Hemel en Aarde mountains. There has been a big focus on climbing and the Land Rover Technical Terrain in this year’s preparation due to the nature of the route prepared.” 

The 2016 ABSA Cape Epic begins on 13 March 2016, heading out from the Meerendal Wine Estates in Durbanville, Western Cape.  The route follows 647 kilometers of the most scenic and demanding trails found in the Western Cape and round the world, ending back at Meerendal on 20 March 2016. 

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