The world’s most decorated cross-country mountain biker will be in the Tankwa trek start chute. At last.
Switzerland’s Nino Schurter has won it all. Many times. A nine-time cross-country mountain bike World Champion and Cape Epic winner, Schurter is the favourite in any race he enters.
Despite having nearly done it all in mountain biking, the Swiss has never ventured into the Koue Bokkeveld, to ride. Or race. Despite using Stellenbosch as a regular off-season training base, when he escapes the freezing Swiss winter.
Nino is ready for the heat
"In the past, I’ve always seen the other teams racing the Tankwa," Schurter pointed out. "I’ve seen lots of great photos and I watched as the Cannondale guys raced it. My South African friends have also told me a lot about the race; so, while it’s my first time taking part, I know a bit about it and am really looking forward to it."
"By the time the race gets underway I’ll have been in South Africa for a month already," the World Champion said about his heat adaptation. "I’ve been training in the heat and I’m already quite used to the soaring temperatures, which certainly helps. But I’m still hoping that it won’t be too hot during the race."
Strong South Africans chasing the Swiss
Schurter and Filippo Colombo’s main rivals are
likely to be the Cannondale Factory Racing team of Simon Andreassen and Alan
Hatherly and the Specialized team of Matt Beers and Tristan Nortje.
All four riders experienced the brutal Attakwas Extreme, in January. Andreassen rode to a commanding victory in sweltering conditions, so the Dane is also likely to thrive in the Koue Bokkeveld’s peak summer heat.
Although the punishing temperatures experienced by riders during the Attakwas are unlikely to be repeated at the Tankwa Trek, predictions for the weekend don’t list cool conditions. Some mid-week rain might be an advantage in settling the trails and preventing corners on the route from crumbling too easily, as the Tankwa competitors roll through.