Swiss Addition to a Spanish Team
The BUFF Scott MTB team are the perennial dark horses of the Absa Cape Epic. Since their fourth place in 2018, when Francesc Guerra Carretero was partnered by Portugal’s Luis Leao Pinto, they have been a team the other squads cautiously keep an eye on. In 2020, the Spanish team has cast their net further afield than the Iberian Peninsula in search of riders. For this year’s Untamed African MTB Race, Enrique Morcillo Vergara will be partnered by Switzerland’s Konny Looser.
Looser, and his Swiss compatriot Ariane Lüthi, have spent a significant amount of time training and racing in South Africa. He is thus no stranger to the conditions the teams will encounter during the 2020 Absa Cape Epic. What makes the combination with Morcillo Vergara remarkable is the fact that Looser has predominantly raced alongside fellow Swiss riders, with South Africa’s Matt Beers being a notable exception in the 2017 edition of The Race That Measures All.
Being naturally quiet and thoughtful, how Looser will mesh with the boisterous BUFF Scott squad will be interesting to observe. He is excited by the new challenge and the change of teams. “I'm proudly representing the colours of the BUFF Scott team!” he enthused. “With this move and the selection of the team, I'll race the Absa Cape Epic for the first time with Enrique [Morcillo Vergara], which is really exciting. I know Enrique from many races and I think we have a good combination of strengths. Our aspirations are also clear, we are aiming for one of the top spots and some podiums on stages in this year’s edition!”
From his 7 starts, Looser has 5 Absa Cape Epic finishes. Since the Swiss star’s debut in 2011, he has remarkably only managed a best finish of 11th. That result came alongside Huber in 2012. “Having different partners was definitely my biggest problem in the past few years” Looser explained. Before 2020 he had been supported by Swiss bike brand, BiXS. Though as their only marathon and stage race specialist, Looser was often left searching for a teammate to take part in stage races with.
“I love being involved in this race, but unfortunately, there has never been a successful year for me in the Absa Cape Epic” he continued. “The crazy fact about this is that I've raced it 7 times and in 6 of those editions my partners have had race-impacting issues. With the new and extremely professional setup with the BUFF Scott team, many things are already much easier for me. I’ve definitely seen the difference in the build-up to the Absa Cape Epic.”
“I have raced alongside Enrique twice already this year and we will spend another week, before the race, in Stellenbosch; where we can train together as well” an optimistic Looser elaborated. “A successful team needs the staff behind them and that's one of the biggest strengths of the BUFF Scott team. It's like a family and I’m looking forward to good times off the bike with the riders and staff, as well as good times in the saddle!”
Looser’s partner, Morcillo Vergara, has 3 Absa Cape Epic finishes to his name. His best result was a 6th place, in 2019, alongside Guerra Carretero. A repeat of that result, or going one better and securing a top 5 finish will represent a good performance for the leading BUFF Scott team in 2020. “During the race, the two riders should have similar strengths and qualities. I think Enrique and I bring lots of experience into this year’s race, which will help us a lot” Looser concluded.
Aiding Looser and Morcillo Vergara in their quest for a top general classification result is the BUFF Scott MTB 2 pair of Miguel Muñoz Moreno and Jose Maria Sanchez Ruiz. Both Muñoz Moreno and Sanchez Ruiz have an Absa Cape Epic finish to their names and should provide more than capable back-up. During Looser’s most recent Absa Cape Epic attempt, punctures hamstrung his and Nicola Rohrbach’s efforts. Thus, having a team to provide a wheel in the case of an emergency could aid Looser in his bid to finally secure the result his undoubted talent suggests he is capable of.
Be sure to tune in to the Live Broadcast of The Untamed African MTB Race on www.cape-epic.com from 15-22 March.