Former South African marathon champions Max Knox and Kevin Evans will renew their stage racing partnership at next month’s ABSA Cape Epic as Team Biogen-Volcan. But they’re not going to the world’s most prestigious mountain bike stage race to make up the numbers; they’re aiming for podium places.
Evans is no stranger to the Cape Epic podium. He’s won four stages, finished second overall once and third overall three times. He’s completed nine of the 11 editions of the iconic race, with injury and illness keeping him from a full house of finishes.
“Ten a nice round number to aim for. But I’m more interested in competing for some podiums than just finishing my tenth,” said Evans.
“Max and I are focussing specifically on the Cape Epic this year and have set ourselves two goals – compete for the African team title and a top five finish overall. We feel that those are realistic goals.
In their first Cape Epic as teammates, Evans and Knox finished 15th overall last year. That included a one-hour time penalty given after Evans cut a corner on a crowded switchback climb.
“Last year wasn’t a great year for us. We were in a negative space from the start. Max was strong enough to compete for the overall win, but I was already over-raced when we arrived there. This year we’re out to regain some credibility and race with a positive mindset,” said Evans.
Evans and Knox will only do three events with a total of nine race days before they line up as the No. 10 seeds for the Cape Epic prologue on Table Mountain on Sunday 15 March.
“With the backing of Biogen, we have been able to follow our ideal preparation strategy. I have also been able to assemble what I call my ‘A Team’ as our support crew this year. Gary Stanley (manager), Roger Blewett (mechanic), Sandi Bryan (chef) and Martin Glinister (masseuse) will make sure that all we have to worry about is the race. You can’t be competitive at this race without an experienced crew like this.”
Knox, 26, is a decade younger than Evans and feels he still has much to achieve at the Cape Epic. He has started seven and completed six editions of the race, most of those as a back-up support rider to others who have gone on to win the race.
“I’ve still got a lot of Cape Epic racing left to do and I’m grateful for the opportunity that Biogen has given Kevin and I for a second shot as teammates at the Cape Epic. We were leading the African team competition last year and lying eighth overall when we were given a time penalty, which really wacked our motivation for the rest of the race. This year we’re focussed on completing some unfinished business,” smiled Knox.
“Biogen is committed to re-investing in sport through sponsorships of events, teams and individuals. We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary as a leading and tested sports supplement brand this year and are pleased to support Kevin and Max in their quest for Cape Epic success,” said Brandon Fairweather, Biogen Marketing Manager.
“As an exclusive seller of Biogen, Dis-Chem is passionate about sport and we’re excited to be involved in the backing of Team Biogen-Volcan for this year’s Cape Epic. It’s a premium level international sports event and we’re looking forward to seeing this all-South African team achieve their potential,” said Stan Goetsch of Dis-Chem.
Knox and Evans finished second and third respectively at the recent Trans Hajar, a five-day stage race in Oman. They will also compete at the Ashburton Investments Series Ultra-marathon at Sabie on Saturday and the Garden Route 300 stage race in Knysna later this month as their final preparation races for the Cape Epic.
They are riding Volcan bikes, a South African mountain bike brand that’s developed a range of models that are suited to marathons and stage races.