“Iron Sally” Gets A New Partner

Top British rider Sally Bigham has had to find a new partner only days before the start of the 2015 Absa Cape Epic after her teammate Blaža Klemenčič of Slovenia pulled out with an injury.

Sally Bigham's new teammate for Sellaronda Hero, Christina Kollmann.
Sally Bigham’s new teammate for Sellaronda Hero, Christina Kollmann.

“Iron Sally” will now be riding with Austrian Christina Kollmann, a 27-year-old with a record of good results in marathons over the past two years.

Bigham has twice won the Women’s category and had been hoping for a third with Klemenčič, but the Slovenian picked up a knee injury in training.

Kollmann should, however, prove to be an adept partner. She got several good results in 2015, including two third-place finishes in UCI marathon series races and wins in some regional events.

“This will be my first race together with Christina, though we raced against each other a number of times last year in one-day events,” said Bigham. “It’s a little bit tough for Christina because she hadn’t planned or prepared for the Cape Epic, but we are excited about racing together and we will give it our all. We are both 50kg to 52kg and we climb well, so we are looking forward to the stages with lots of climbing!”

Kollmann has the benefit of having done the Absa Cape Epic once before – in 2014 when she finished fifth in the Mixed category with South African Nizaam Essa.

“Christina is coming from winter in Austria but she’s had some training camps in Mallorca and Lake Garda. As I said, it’s hard for her because this was very short notice – she only had seven days to prepare when I asked her,” commented Bigham. “She’s raced the Cape Epic before and she knows what she has ahead of her, she’s had good training over the winter and we’re looking forward to getting into a rhythm over the longer stages.”

Does this mean Bigham has scaled back her ambitions? “We are entering the unknown to be honest, but we’re open minded! Christina and I will give our best and see what we can do, but I expect that we will become stronger as the race goes on.”

The Women’s category has attracted its strongest field yet for the 2015 Absa Cape Epic. Defending champions Ariane Kleinhans of Switzerland and Annika Langvad of Denmark are back, but will have their work cut out.

Besides Bigham and Kollmann, they will have to see off the challenge of former women’s winner Esther Suss, also Swiss, and Belgian Alice Pirard. Mountain biking legend Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå of Norway will be there with Switzerland’s Kathrin Stirnemann and South Africa’s Robyn de Groot will partner Jennie Stenerhag of Sweden.

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