Top Step Beckons For Team Centurion Vaude
In one breath, Nicola Rohrback will tell you that there is no secret to winning the Absa Cape Epic. In the next, the Swiss will smile and let slip that Team Centurion Vaude may have some “secret tactics” for 2018.
Rohrback has finished twice on the podium in his two attempts at the Absa Cape Epic, second behind Karl Platt and Urs Huber in 2016 and third last year. This year he and Daniel Geismayr of Austria will team up yet again as they seek to find the secret to taking the final step to glory at the Grand Finale.
“There is no secret, I think,” said Rohrback. “It is important that you are a really good all-rounder – cross-country, marathon and technical skills are super important. Tactics are important for the Absa Cape Epic, but you have to be fit enough to play these cards as a whole team. It’s hard to say if you can dictate the race from the front. If you have just a small mechanical you can lose the race in seconds. I probably had the best shape of my life in 2017. I learnt a lot from the past, to try to improve on a few details and to be fit and healthy at the start of the Prologue. My ambitions are always to do better than I did before.”
“You need two riders having a perfect week at the Absa Cape Epic. I hope no mechanical problems stop our big goal this year. Daniel and I are better prepared than ever before. We make a perfect team. We don’t care about silly things or problems. I would describe us as being able to work hard together, but with some coolness.”
Centurion Vaude’s two teams are arguably the strongest four-man squad at the Absa Cape Epic, with the experienced Germans, Jochen Kaess and Markus Kaufmann, also in the mix. While Rohrback and Geismayr finished above Kaess and Kaufmann (who were ninth overall in 2017), no clear leader has been decided for 2018 as yet. Kaess took second in 2011 while racing with Hannes Genze. He also has three stage wins and has never finished outside the top 10 in his six previous outings. Kauffman has one stage win from his five finishes.
“We have a really good team overall if you also take into account our support staff and management. Jochen and Markus are both really strong, so we will be looking out for each other. The strongest team at the Absa Cape Epic will be the leaders, with the aim of helping all of us to get the best result at the finish line. We will have some secret tactics, that’s for sure,” smiled Rohrback.
Rohrback describes the 2018 course as “interesting”, with the long stages, the time-trial and a hard, final day combining to spice up the racing.
“I think the 2018 route is great and really special, and, of course, it is going be more interesting than before. The four longer stages in the beginning will suit Daniel and me, but we hope the stages are as rough and hard as the previous stages in the last two years.
I really like that the last stage looks to be a hard one, and that can still bring changes in the GC right up until the final finish line. The time-trial will, for sure, create some time gaps between the teams after four long and hard stages on tired legs.”
Perhaps the secret to winning the Absa Cape Epic is the simple secret of preparation and hard, clever riding. Rohrback will be warming up his legs at the opening leg of the UCI Epic World Cup the week before the start of the Absa Cape Epic. Whether he will show off any early-season form or keep himself in check come the Prologue, well, that will be his little secret.
“Of course, I am racing the Epic World Cup,” said Rohrback. “I’m mostly a cross-country racer and love the that type of racing. I know I can do good there as well. For the Absa Cape Epic it is a perfect pre-race.”