Effervescent Hermida and Rodriguez Return to Master the Absa Cape Epic
Effervescent, quick with a joke or a laugh, Jose Antonio Hermida and Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodriguez are two of the Absa Cape Epic’s best loved characters. Their enthusiasm for cycling and the race in particular is infectious. In the serious world of the UCI men’s start group their seemingly laid back attitudes helped lighten the mood. In 2019 they will be taking that exuberance into the A Batch start group as they line-up alongside former professionals and other highly competitive age-group riders to contest the Dimension Data Masters’ Category for the first time.
The 2010 XCO World Champion and the five-time grand tour podium finisher will compete against defending champions Massimo Debertolis, who will race the 2019 edition with Dax Jaikel (7C Wilier), and Ondrej Fojtik, who is racing alongside José Silva (MITAS HEAD NEW RACE) this year. Also in the Dimension Data Master’s category are the SCOTT-SRAM Old Dudes, Tomas Frischknecht and Urs Gerig, as well as the heavily former professional road racing influenced squads of Erik Dekker and Maarten Tjallingii (IBS Capital Allies) and Robbie Hunter and René Haselbacher (PTB/RH77). On his own Hermida holds near as much Absa Cape Epic experience as the rest of the category favourites combined – making him the joker in the Merida Factory Racing team’s pack.
In his nine Absa Cape Epic finishes to date Hermida has won five stages – in the elite UCI Men’s category. His best ever finish of fourth, in 2013 and 2015, was achieved alongside Rudi van Houts but he and Rodriguez have ostensibly been preparing for this moment since they first teamed up together in 2017. Rodriguez’s debut in the race came hot on the heels of his retirement from the professional peloton at the end of 2016. Not that ‘El Purito’ – the little cigar – has struggled to adapt from the road to the mountain. In his two Absa Cape Epic finishes he has ridden to very credible eighteenth and thirty third place finishes in the overall general classification.
The pair’s success in the race goes far beyond results however. The race arguably owes much of its popularity in the Spanish speaking world to Hermida in particular. Famous for his magnificent moustache and his flamboyant style, Hermida’s love of the Absa Cape Epic has spread to his country-men and women culminating in 135 Spanish riders entering the 2019 race.
When asked why the race is so popular in his home nation Hermida responded with a laugh: “Because I promise to pay for a beer for each of them if they finish! It’s a country bet.” Perhaps unaware of just how out of pocket he might be, come the 24th of March, he elaborated: “It’s true; the Absa Cape Epic has a great reputation in Spain. It is a reputation built on the racing, the event’s image, the riders it attracts and the way riders are looked after. That is what people in Spain like about the event and search for in other mountain bike races too.”
Having broken his hand on the 15th of December Hermida’s preparation has not been ideal. “Well this year it’s going to be hard for me, as I’m going through a recovery from my hand operation; but also Purito [Rodriguez] is training more than ever. We took the decision to start in the Dimension Data Master’s category and that’s going to bring us a bunch of pressure” the now 40 year old former World Champion recounted. “Also Purito is going to take part at his third Absa Cape Epic and he is fully motivated to get into Amabubesi Finisher Club. As for myself…I have a special motivation to finish my tenth and get that Land Rover 4x4 that the Absa Cape Epic promises to all the ten-time finishers” he joked.
* The 2017 Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race takes place from 19 to 26 March and the much anticipated route can be viewed here.
More About ABSA Cape Epic
Former winners Nino Schurter and Annika Langvad on Sunday completed their objectives of guiding two Absa Cape Epic newbies to victories in
Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen (Investec-songo-Specialized) collected their seventh stage win at the 2019 Absa Cape Epic to give
With 70km and 1800m of vertical gain standing between Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing and overall victory on the Champs-Élysées of
The leaders in both the Men's and Women's categories at the Absa Cape Epic extended their leads and both look virtually certain of
It is the most iconic image of all: the rider village at the Absa Cape Epic. 700 identical red tents, laid out to OCD perfection. For the
Renaissance men Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys shrugged off a disastrous first five days to win The Queen Stage of the Absa Cape Epic from
South African Candice Lill and her German partner Adelheid Morath became the Queens of the Queen Stage when they won the 100km Stage 5 from
The Investec-songo-Specialized train continues to rush toward Absa Cape Epic victory and such is their control of the Women's category
The scene is set for a spectacular Queen Stage into Stellenbosch on Friday, as Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing dominated the 43-kilometre Time Trial
It's not over until it's over. A disastrous rear-wheel puncture saw Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing concede the Yellow Jerseys to Cannondale
The Investec-songo-Specialized duo of Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen extended their lead during Stage 2 of the Absa Cape Epic
Oak Valley Estate in Elgin is an icon of the Absa Cape Epic and today's racing will once again be immortalised in the annals of the
There was a tacit admission from their nearest rivals that the mountain biking-road riding combination of Annika Langvad and Anna van der
The all-Swiss pairing of Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing won the 111km Stage 1 of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic in emphatic fashion on Monday 18 March.
Mountain biking World Champion Annika Langvad and her road riding World and Olympic Champion partner Anna van der Breggen put down a marker
Team Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing won the Prologue of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic on the slopes of Table Mountain ahead of Cannondale Factory Racing
With 650 teams set to start the 2019 Absa Cape Epic on the 17th of March, there are 1 300 individual stories of dedication,
The Amabubesi Finisher Club celebrates all riders who have finished three or more Absa Cape Epics. That pride of lions grows year on year,
The pre-race press conference, held just three days before the start of the Absa Cape Epic, set the assembled mountain biking media abuzz
James Lawrence is no stranger to feats of ultra-endurance. Known as the Iron Cowboy, Lawrence hails from Calgary, Canada, and holds the
As a former three-time World Champion whenever Óscar Freire pins a number to his kit he attracts a great deal of attention. Even if
Jaco van Gass, British Armed Forces Parachute Regiment, and Stu Croxford, Duke of Lancaster's Infantry Regiment, are set to take on the
From 2001 until he retired in 2013 there was no better known South African cyclist than Robbie Hunter. The former Rabobank, Phonak and
Though best known for his exploits around a race track, on two petrol powered wheels, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini MotoGP rider, Aleix