Kevin Evans is in the form of his life at the moment, having won the SA Elite Time-trial title on the road, the SA Ultra-marathon Mountain Biking title, as well as the three-day Sani2C Mountain Bike Stage Race and, during the past weekend, he finished 2nd overall in the Giro del Capo Road Tour.
Having competed in all the Cape Epic tours up to now, Evans is a seasoned campaigner. The fact that he had always finished in the top ten overall, is quite remarkable.
In 2004 he was 4th overall; 2005 3rd; 2006 4th ; 2007 7th; 2008 3rd and 2009 4th. He also managed to win a stage, thereby earning the privilege to wear the coveted yellow jersey for one day.
2010 might just be the year in which South African mountain-biking history will be made because, apart from Evans, Burry Stander (Specialized/Mr Price), who will ride with Christoph Sauser from Switzerland, also has a realistic chance of winning the Epic overall.
“With the Epic you cannot afford to leave anything to chance. You have to be as well-prepared as you possibly can, physically as well as mentally. And that is not all. You have to ensure that your equipment is 110% in working order. If you want to win you cannot afford to take any risks.
“And even though you do everything correctly during the build-up to the Epic as well as during the tour itself, you still have no guarantee that you will win. Just look at what happened to Burry and Christoph last year. To win the Epic overall, you also need a lot of luck.”
According to Evans, there is no other mountain-bike tour that comes even close to the Epic.
“You can compare winning the Epic to winning the Tour de France on the road. It is huge.”
Evans admits that, for the first time ever, he knows very little about the route.
“In the past I always made a point of riding certain sections of the Epic beforehand. This time I haven’t done it. I have no clue of what awaits us and I think it might be a blessing in disguise. Sometimes it is better not to know what you are letting yourself in for.
“However, I am beginning to think that a team time trial on day five could be important. On a good day you could win or lose 40 to 60 seconds over 27 kilometers. If the Epic turns out to be a closely contested affair, that is where the race will be won or lost.
“A positive aspect about racing with Alban, is that he is very level-headed. This is good, because it means that I will not, as I often did in the past, start out with guns ablaze and end up paying the price.
“Furthermore, it seems to me that, when competing in a tour like the Epic, your team-mate should be the opposite of yourself.
“For example, I weigh only 62kg, my height is 1.71cm and I am a good climber. Alban, on the other hand, weighs about 78kg, his height is 1.84cm and he is one of the fastest riders on flat roads. We are almost exact opposites, but we complement each other.
“I find it somewhat disconcerting that I have been riding at my peak during the past few weeks. I just hope that my form will last, because Alban is getting stronger and stronger by the day.”
Evans reckons that, apart from Stander and Sauser, the other teams to watch will be Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (Bulls), who have won the Epic in 2007 and 2009, and Hannes Genze and Jochen Kaess from the Merida Team.
“And you should never underestimate Bart Brentjens from the Netherlands who had already won 11 stages. He will be riding with Jelmer Pietersma.”