Team Absa ready for the 2012 Absa Cape Epic
Since their official introduction to the media and public on 25 October 2011, Team Absa has been undergoing strict preparation ahead of their participation in the toughest mountain bike stage race in the world – the Absa Cape Epic.
Team Absa is one of Absa’s most exciting elements of the 2012 instalment of the race and comprises ten unique and accomplished individuals. The team is as follows:
1. Joel Stransky & Letshego Moshoeu
2. Vanessa Haywood & Clayton Duckworth
3. Gugu Zulu & Max Gebhardt
4. Kevin McCallum & Jack Stroucken
5. Ernst Viljoen & Elana Meyer
“Team Absa 2012 is an exciting group of strong personalities – each one a legend in their own discipline,” says Team Manager Ernst Viljoen, who has completed the race three times. Of the team riders, only Joel Stransky, Jack Stroucken and Ernst Viljoen have previously participated in the Absa Cape Epic.
“My lifestyle has had to change quite significantly,” says model and actress Vanessa Haywood. “I have to go to bed before 9pm and I’m up at 4:30 am every morning to train. I am training about 15 hours a week and it’s exhausting. I also eat like a horse now,” she jokes, “I can’t keep up! I have to be very careful with my nutrition and the supplements I take”.
According to rugby legend turned businessman and SuperSport commentator, Joel Stransky, “the race is tough, but the most difficult part for me is the long hours of training beforehand which entails a great amount of suffering and the sacrifice of time away from my family.”
“The Absa Cape Epic is all about the partnership with your teammate, mutual support is the key to a successful finish. All riders must display commitment, perseverance, and determination- characteristics that are tantamount to Absa’s key brand values,” says Absa Sponsorship Manager, Steward Masela. “The Absa Cape Epic is a test of the human spirit and Team Absa will need to demonstrate great resilience and courage to overcome the challenges of the race and achieve the results that they have been training so diligently for.”
Each rider will be participating on behalf of their selected charity, to which Absa will generously donate R1,300 per rider per stage completed. The non-profit organisations that will be represented are:
- CANSA: Ernst Viljoen
- Cotlands: Clayton Duckworth
- DARG: Vanessa Haywood
- JAG Foundation: Letshego Moshoeu, Gugu Zulu and Elana Meyer
- LumoHawk: Joel Stranksy
- Morningside Rotary: Jack Stroucken
- Rally to READ: Max Gebhardt
- The Star’s Seaside Fund: Kevin McCallum
Absa will also be donating a further R 30,000 to the JAG Foundation as one of the key beneficiaries of the race.
Responsible for the team’s training and race preparation, Viljoen says “the team is now focusing on their fitness as well the very important technical skills of riding a mountain bike for the event. The riders are each spending somewhere between 12 and 20 hours per week on their bikes.”
Team Absa will also be embarking on a five-day training camp in the Western Cape from 8th – 12th February 2012 as part of their rigorous training schedules. “For most of the team riders it will be the first time that they will be riding under challenging conditions for four consecutive days, simulating what the real event is all about,” explains Viljoen.
The Training Camp will be an excellent opportunity for the riders to work closely with their partners and ensure that a good rapport is established between them. The Training Camp will also identify shortcomings and weaknesses in individual preparation and will assist the riders on where to focus in the remaining time before the event.
Although the training has proven difficult, the overall feeling in the team is one of excitement and great anticipation. “Riding the Absa Cape Epic for the third time in 2012 I am most looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment and celebrating with the rest of my teammates at the end, knowing that we have all suffered and conquered equally!” says Stransky. Haywood says “this whole experience has broadened my horizons in such an amazing way! My life will never be the same after this journey.”