Loots and Conlon of Team Pragma to take on their fifth Absa Cape Epic


Durbanville resident, Lieb Loots (56) and George resident Tony Conlon (51), will team up for this year’s Absa Cape Epic as team Pragma Marsilio Projects. The legendary mountain bike stage race, now in its tenth year, will take place from 17 to 24 March 2013, and will take riders through 698 km of challenging mountain bike terrain with 15 650m of climbing from Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville, to Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West.

Both Loots and Conlon will be participating in their fifth Absa Cape Epic this year, but this will be the fourth time the duo combine their skills as a team, and take on the newly established Grand Masters category. Conlon, owner of a construction and development company says: “The creation of the Grand Masters Category definitely created some interest in doing the Absa Cape Epic. Also with Pragma sponsoring us, the decision was made a lot easier. I participated in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 and completed half in 2008, as I ended in hospital with saddle sores. I think this race has evolved into something really special. People talk about the Cape Epic in mountain biking in the same breath as the grand tours of road cycling. It’s in our own backyard. You don’t contemplate coming back while you’re doing it, but given a second to reflect after the achievement makes you start planning another. ”

Loots, who has successfully completed the Absa Cape Epic in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012 respectively, works in Cape Town and exports dry lube (for bicycle chains) to Australia. “Getting sponsorship and being competitive is why I come back to the Absa Cape Epic every time. My fondest memory of the race is being on the podium with Tony in 2006,” says Loots.

“We hardly ever train together, but we’ve done countless races together and know each other very well,” adds Conlon. With regards to training, Loots does short intense rides and longer rides of 3 to 5 hours once or twice during the week. “I don’t follow a special diet, but eat enough protein,” says Loots. Conlon’s training is slightly different. “At present 12 to 15 hours a week. I don’t follow a specific diet. I do however watch my weight religiously as every half a kilogram counts,” says Conlon.

“What makes us a good team is that we don’t complain about each other or towards each other either, we just ride. I believe the most important ingredient to finishing this event successfully is a strong mind. For the other participants, my advice is make sure your body is conditioned for a tough time in the saddle,” says Loots.

According to Conlon the most important ingredient is a great partner. “Lieb Loots is that person and of course you need lots of luck. The 2013 route looks epic!” says Conlon. Loots still has to have a look at the new route. “Podium? I’m pretty confident about this, if there are no major mechanical issues or illnesses. I don’t really have any injuries that could affect my performance at the moment. And obviously one needs to see who you are competing against. With regards to the difficulty of the stages, they seem to be the same but the first couple of stages could be more difficult until you’re in the swing of riding and suffering,” Loots adds.

In 2013 Conlon would firstly like to complete the Absa Cape Epic successfully and do a tenth Trans Baviaan’s, and host of other races. “Training takes up a lot of my time after work hours. I’m an avid sports fan and play golf once or twice a month. Go Liverpool and Stormers!” says Conlon. Conlon describes himself as outgoing and highly motivated.

Loots concludes: “Apart from cycling, I’d also like to participate in the World Cross Country in Pietermaritzburg. In my spare time, I enjoy wine making, reading and spending time with my kids and friends. After crossing the finish line on the last day of the Epic, I’m sure I’ll wonder to myself what shall I do tomorrow.”