Off for Epic ride

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Three Queenstowners are off to compete in the world’s toughest mountain bike endurance race. 

Morne Pienaar, 35, pairs up with Oliver Coutts, 31, while Mark Williams, 38, teams up with Alexandra’s Malcolm McLeod, 41, in the ninth Cape Epic in South Africa. 

The eight-day, off-road race – once dubbed the Tour de France of mountain biking – starts on Sunday with a time trial and covers 800km of the scenic Western Cape, including about 16km of gruelling climbs. 

It boasts 600 teams of two, including many of the world’s best riders. 

Williams, an experienced mountain bike racer, secured a wildcard entry with McLeod who did the Cape Epic in 2010, coming fourth in the masters. 

This time McLeod and Williams are in the open category. 

Williams, who’s never been to South Africa, believes the key will be good recovery after each day’s stage, including a massage and proper nutrition. Another key will be teamwork – riders have to remain within two minutes of each other at all times. 

“It’s a matter of sharing the load,” Williams says. 

Williams wants a top-20 finish, though just completing the course will be a massive achievement, he says. 

Pienaar, a South African native who’s completed 10 Ironman races, says the Cape Epic will be his toughest challenge.
“We’ll be very stoked with a top-50 finish.”