Mixed Aspirations for Triple World Champ, Óscar Freire
As a former three-time World Champion whenever Óscar Freire pins a number to his kit he attracts a great deal of attention. Even if those victories came on far smoother roads than the ones he will need to conquer, alongside Natalia Fischer Egusquiza, in the 2019 Absa Cape Epic. Freire is after-all cycling royalty and given Fischer Egusquiza’s impressive off-road palmarès the MMR Mixed pair starts as favourites for the Virgin Active Mixed Category.
While Freire, who along with Alfredo Binda, Rick van Steenbergen, Peter Sagan and Eddy Merckx holds the record for the most road world title victories, needs no introduction his partner is less well known. Fischer Egusquiza is a multi-disciplinary talent; having raced on the road and in duathlon as well as triathlon events, in addition to her budding mountain biking career. She has proven herself to be particularly adept at the marathon distance; claiming the 2017 and 2018 Spanish XCM national titles while finishing nineteenth in the World XCM Championships last year. “I’ve changed my preseason planning this year because I will focus on XCO racing this season” the 25 year old MMR Factory Team rider explained. “I have been working so hard in the gym and I’m racing stage races, with the team, to build my base for the season ahead.”
“I’m really excited about racing the Absa Cape Epic this year” Freire enthused. “Last year I didn’t train as much as I wanted to, but this year I’m racing with the MMR Factory Racing Team and I have raced a few stage races like the Mediterranean Epic to prepare the Absa Cape Epic. I’m more like a diesel car now” he laughed. “But I think my teammate Natalia Fischer [Egusquiza] and I will have a few opportunities to fight for the win on a few stages. We aim for a really great position on the GC, she is a superclass rider and we are working hard to make a good race” the 42 year old elaborated.
Continuing the theme of playing down their chances, in what is shaping up to be a highly competitive Virgin Active Mixed Category, Fischer Egusquiza added: “Óscar has a lot of experience on and off the bike. I’m learning a lot from him and there are two stages where we want to go for the win. To fight for the GC is hard but we will give 100% for it.”
The battle for the green jerseys is likely to rage all the way to Val de Vie with the MMR Mixed team facing off against compatriots Ramona Gabriel Batalla and Antonio Moreno Ortega, of Garmin Ixcor. Gabriel Batalla like Fischer Egusquiza would be equally at home in the UCI women’s field, but has chosen to also make her Absa Cape Epic debut in the Virgin Active Mixed Category. Other contenders for the category include Martin and Jeannie Dreyer; Sebastian and Laura Stark; Swiss Epic mixed category podium finishers Benjamin Michael and Hannah Kölling; and accomplished IRONMAN athletes Emma Anderson Cryns and Jose Antonio Peña Salcedo.
Freire and Fischer Egusquiza head up a strong Spanish assault on the Virgin Active Mixed Category with three of the top six teams flying the Rojigualda. As the former World Champion explained the event is more popular than ever with his country-men and -women: “The Absa Cape Epic is one of the best races in the world. Every team wants to fight for a spot on the start line and racing among the scenery of South Africa is more than amazing. The marathon scene in Spain is growing amazingly fast, so our cyclists want to grow their ambitions and fight with the best racers worldwide.”
The 2019 Absa Cape Epic takes place from 17-24 March. Find out more here.
More About ABSA Cape Epic
Former winners Nino Schurter and Annika Langvad on Sunday completed their objectives of guiding two Absa Cape Epic newbies to victories in
Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen (Investec-songo-Specialized) collected their seventh stage win at the 2019 Absa Cape Epic to give
With 70km and 1800m of vertical gain standing between Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing and overall victory on the Champs-Élysées of
The leaders in both the Men's and Women's categories at the Absa Cape Epic extended their leads and both look virtually certain of
It is the most iconic image of all: the rider village at the Absa Cape Epic. 700 identical red tents, laid out to OCD perfection. For the
Renaissance men Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys shrugged off a disastrous first five days to win The Queen Stage of the Absa Cape Epic from
South African Candice Lill and her German partner Adelheid Morath became the Queens of the Queen Stage when they won the 100km Stage 5 from
The Investec-songo-Specialized train continues to rush toward Absa Cape Epic victory and such is their control of the Women's category
The scene is set for a spectacular Queen Stage into Stellenbosch on Friday, as Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing dominated the 43-kilometre Time Trial
It's not over until it's over. A disastrous rear-wheel puncture saw Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing concede the Yellow Jerseys to Cannondale
The Investec-songo-Specialized duo of Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen extended their lead during Stage 2 of the Absa Cape Epic
Oak Valley Estate in Elgin is an icon of the Absa Cape Epic and today's racing will once again be immortalised in the annals of the
There was a tacit admission from their nearest rivals that the mountain biking-road riding combination of Annika Langvad and Anna van der
The all-Swiss pairing of Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing won the 111km Stage 1 of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic in emphatic fashion on Monday 18 March.
Mountain biking World Champion Annika Langvad and her road riding World and Olympic Champion partner Anna van der Breggen put down a marker
Team Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing won the Prologue of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic on the slopes of Table Mountain ahead of Cannondale Factory Racing
With 650 teams set to start the 2019 Absa Cape Epic on the 17th of March, there are 1 300 individual stories of dedication,
The Amabubesi Finisher Club celebrates all riders who have finished three or more Absa Cape Epics. That pride of lions grows year on year,
The pre-race press conference, held just three days before the start of the Absa Cape Epic, set the assembled mountain biking media abuzz
James Lawrence is no stranger to feats of ultra-endurance. Known as the Iron Cowboy, Lawrence hails from Calgary, Canada, and holds the
Jaco van Gass, British Armed Forces Parachute Regiment, and Stu Croxford, Duke of Lancaster's Infantry Regiment, are set to take on the
From 2001 until he retired in 2013 there was no better known South African cyclist than Robbie Hunter. The former Rabobank, Phonak and
Effervescent, quick with a joke or a laugh, Jose Antonio Hermida and Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodriguez are two of the Absa Cape
Though best known for his exploits around a race track, on two petrol powered wheels, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini MotoGP rider, Aleix