Successful CAPE EPIC for Joaquim Rodriguez and José Antonio Hermida in BAHRAIN MERIDA jerseys
The 14th edition of the Absa Cape Epic took place from 18th to 25th March 2017 where local and international mountain bikers tackled the demanding eight-day adventure through the Western Cape region in South Africa.
The Absa Cape Epic had to be completed by both members of a two-person team with only 650 teams and 1300 entrants allowed to ride the race. That goal was accomplished also by the ambassador of BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team, debutant on this race Joaquim Rodriguez and his experienced co-rider, mountain biker José Antonio Hermida. Both successfully rode through roughly 700km of unspoilt scenery and 15 000m of accumulated climbing, over some of the most magnificent mountain passes in South Africa on MERIDA bikes – Merida is one of the biggest bike manufacturer in in the world and has more than 40 years of experiences in developing and manufacturing bicycles. It was a real challenge but also a great opportunity to promote BAHRAIN MERIDA Team and MERIDA bikes in the world of mountain biking.
How had he come to the idea of taking on such a challenge and how was the experience for him, explained Joaquim after the race.
Why did you decide to enter Cape Epic? Where did the idea come from?
It’s the best MTB stage race in the world. They call it the Tour the France of MTB.
I was always a fan of MTB but during my career as a professional road rider, I didn’t have time for it. Finally, at the end of 2016 and my deal with BAHRAIN MERIDA I saw a chance to do it.
The idea came from a spontaneous talk in a coffee shop with my friend Hermida.
What does this race mean to you?
Cape Epic means a great adventure, but also a new way of life, a new cycling for me and at the same time a big chance to promote MERIDA bikes and BAHRAIN MERIDA as a team in MTB.
How hard was it to switch from the road to mountain?
It is very difficult to switch from road to MTB! I still haven’t switched completely… It is still cycling but it is completely different and many times during Cape Epic I wished to have 4 wheels!! Ajajajaj!
How did you prepare for the race with José Antonio and how long?
After the decision to take part in the race in December, we started to do the technical side of the trainings. We were not worried about our endurance, but for the technical part I had to go through a quick school to face such a big challenge. Luckily we live close to each other and we met 1-2 times per week, whenever our schedules allowed us.
Did you achieve your goals for the race?
Absolutely YES!! I finished the race. That was my first goal, I enjoyed, I suffered, I met a lot of great people and riders… And in the end we even made it to the 18th place in overall classification and took 9th in one stage … So the whole experience was super positive.
Do you plan to participate also next year and what, if anything, would you do differently?
Yes, of course I would like to take part also next year – and even with a bigger team, since this kind of events are important platforms for our brand.
Purito, happy with his debut at Cape Epic, concluded the interview: “And last but not least important – thanks to BAHRAIN MERIDA and MERIDA for the great support and opportunity that they gave me to participate and to enjoy this kind of cycling!”
Andreas Rottler – General Manager of Merida Europe and Director of Sport Marketing said: “For MERIDA it was a pleasure to create this team of two legends. Purito and José retired end of 2016 from professional racing and we took the chance to bring them together on our Merida bikes. Their performance on the bike was still incredible. Especially for Purito such a race was completely new for him and we are impressed by his performance. Day by day he felt better on MTB and on the race track. Of course, with the MTB legend José Antonio Hermida he had a perfect teacher! Let´s see if we find more challenges for these guys, maybe a nice Grandfondo stage race on the road can be interesting. In this case they change role and Purito can teach Hermida, haha.”
Photo: MERIDA Europe GmbH