By FOCUS REPORTER
PLANNING to get married the weekend after they complete this year’s Absa Cape Epic, Ariane Lűthi (27) and her fiancé Erik Kleinhans (28) from the
Western Cape will be taking up the legendary challenge as team Contego/Giant/Sludge. This year’s event will start with its prologue on
Sunday, 27 March in Tokai Forest, part of Table Mountain National Park, and finish eight days and 707km later, on 3 April, at the prestigious
Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West.
Lűthi is very excited to participate in her first ever Absa Cape Epic, stating: “For me it’s a big privilege to be part of the biggest mountain
bike stage race in the world. I’m looking forward to this unforgettable experience – the different routes and the awesome scenery, and of course the
incomparable atmosphere at the Cape Epic, which I was told will be great!” As an experienced mountain biker, she managed to win several events during
Kleinhans (who holds a B.Comm Managing Accounting degree) will be taking part for the fourth time; he came in twelfth position overall (together with
Oliver Munnik) during 2008’s event. He has also won numerous South African mountain bike events, including Wines2Whales, Klein Karoo Klassiek and the
Cape Pioneer, amongst others. It will be the first time that he participates in the mixed category which “adds a whole new dynamic”. He adds: “We met at
the 2010 Cape Pioneer and have been together for just under six months.
We’re getting married the weekend after the Cape Epic. It’s great to live with another person who is passionate about the same sport, especially when
it comes to our diet, recovery and resting. Training needs a bit more planning to combine our schedules, but it’s great doing intervals together
and having a partner to help motivate one another. I love doing stage races and enjoy being there with other mountain bikers and suffering hard with
them every day. It’s always great to be part of something fantastic.”
Lűthi says that Kleinhans is the ideal riding partner. “He knows me better than any other person. He knows exactly how he can support me, physically
and mentally. He’s the love of my life, and with that the best team partner I can imagine.” Kleinhans shares her sentiments: “We know each other really
well and because we’re so close we know the ins and outs of each other.”
The team is confident that they could do well at this year’s event. Says Lűthi: “I believe in our chance to win and I’ll give my best to make this
dream come true.” Kleinhans agrees: “We set ourselves the goal to finish on the podium in Lourensford – it would be great to win and we’ll give
everything to achieve that. But the Epic is brutal and everything can be wiped away in an instant with one unlucky stage.”
Always training together in preparation of the event, the team’s average week includes one to three longer rides, one or two interval training
sessions, one gym session, one swimming session, racing over the weekends and then resting for two days. “My diet includes Muesli with fruits and
yogurt for breakfast, a big variety of vegetables and meat or fish for lunch and dinner. Erik follows basically the same diet, although he enjoys some
bread for lunch,” Lűthi says.
Lűthi’s advice for other participants is to enjoy the ride and to be proud of the achievement. “Pain lasts for a short time, glory lasts forever! For
younger athletes I would like to say that they must see it as a privilege to be able to ride their bikes and must enjoy it.” She says that the most
important ingredient to successfully complete the Absa Cape Epic is to enjoy the ride and one’s mountain bike. “If you do that, you’re also more likely
to train hard for a big goal like this. Nothing works without motivation.”
Kleinhans believes one should not overdo it during the first couple of stages of the event. “Always take it easy and ride within your capabilities.
Also try and eat some natural food during the stages, not just gels.
A full suspension and bomb proof tires for your bike is also important to complete the Absa Cape Epic adventure.”
In her free time, Lűthi enjoys cooking, eating and chatting with friends, while Kleinhans is heavily involved with organising cycling races, including
a cycling academy around Stellenbosch. In addition, he loves sitting in a bistro and enjoying good coffee in Stellenbosch, as well as walking and
Lűthi’s other goals for 2011 include winning the JoBerg2c and the Cape Pioneer together with Kleinhans, and also achieving a good result at the
marathon world champs in Italy. Kleinhans would like to be really competitive in other stage races in South Africa, and continue to fight for
results in the SA marathon races.