The Bestmed Tour of Good Hope’s international reputation was further enhanced this week after confirmation that five-time Cape Epic champion Karl Platt will be on the start line in early March. The German will lead a strong team in South Africa’s premier road stage race that stretches over five days and 490km in the Cape Winelands.
But Platt will not be the only rider from Team Bulls. The 38-year-old from Osthofen will be supported by Swiss marathon mountain bike champ Urs Huber and fellow Germans Tim Böhme and Simon Stiebjahn. Team Bulls are putting all the big guns to work in the road stage race as part of their Cape Epic preparation.
With Attakwas run, and won, by Christoph Sauser, the writing is on the wall for Platt – he needs to sharpen up. Platt and Sauser both have 5 Cape Epic wins each, and both would like to add another one to the palmares.
Platt, who is already in the country to prepare for a series of events, explained that they were ready to shake things up in the Cycling SA-sanctioned race, which is presented by the City of Drakenstein and Scicon.
Although he was cagey about his objectives, simply saying it was “strictly confidential”, he said the tour would play an important part in fine-tuning his form ahead of the Epic.
“It is a great event with great racing and we want to race cleverly to make the most of it. We will use the strength of the team to our advantage and, for sure, we want to start some fireworks.”
Platt will team up with Huber at the Epic just over a week afterwards in a bid to defend their Cape Epic title and with the aim of becoming the first six-time winner.
He currently shares five overall triumphs with Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser, a multiple former world marathon mountain bike champion who is a regular face at the Tour of Good Hope.
“There will be some other strong rivals at the Epic this year, so the duel between Christoph and me is just one of many rivalries,” said Platt.
“But there will be a special feeling racing against him as we are both gunning for our sixth title.”
Platt said Böhme and Stiebjahn, who will team up for the Epic, were the best support team one could imagine.
His objective, he said, would be to “deliver a top performance and to be competitive for the win”.
“Needless to say, after last year’s overall victory, this can be the only goal.”
After spending time in South Africa in November, Platt, who ended third in Attkwas at the weekend, has been back for a block of training leading up to the racing season.
He said there were many benefits to training in the country at this time of the year.
“We will be able to get used to the heat and the special weather conditions. Also, we will be riding awesome trails and last, but not least, enjoy the beauty of South Africa and the great hospitality.”
The Bestmed Tour of Good Hope takes place from March 6 to 10. Visit www.tourofgoodhope.co.za for more information.