Lessons in life and racing from a partnership that has stood the test of 30 years and countless thousands of off road kilometres.
The old adage 'teamwork, makes the dream work’ always rings true at the Absa Cape Epic. The partnership of brothers Hannes and Sakkie Hanekom (Santa Cruz Masters) has had the odd test over the 30-years-odd years that they’ve been riding bikes together. But then, blood is thicker than water and blood shed during The Race That Measures All is a thick gel. The fruit-farming brothers are currently racing to become the first team to complete 10 Absa Cape Epics together.
Much of Stage 2, the Queen stage, was held on some of their private trail network in the Witzenberg Valley.
We caught up with the highly experienced duo for some insights:
ON BEING SENSITIVE TO YOUR PARTNER
“We don’t talk about the fights (laughs). No, in all seriousness, sometimes things will be difficult and he will be the stronger one and then other times I will be. I’ll tell him: ‘Slow down, I’m not there yet.’ Then hopefully tomorrow I will be. Patience and consideration are key.”
ON HAVING AN UNDERSTANDING
“We’ve been riding together for so long and we work together as well, so there is not a lot of explaining to do on the route. I know when he is suffering and he knows when I am suffering so it (the Absa Cape Epic) feels a bit like a training ride with a lot of hype around it. Not all partnerships are as fortunate but that deep understanding of each other helps us a lot.”
ON HAVING AN ABSA CAPE EPIC IN OCTOBER
“It’s really special to have such a unique Absa Cape Epic be our 10th together. Also, October is really special, it is such a beautiful time here in Ceres and the Western Cape in general - everything is green, it's a little bit cooler and the trails are damp so there is a lot of grip. It was a privilege to ride our valley today and to have the Cape Epic come through our lands once again.”
ON HOW TO GO THE DISTANCE
“Don’t go too hard in the beginning. The Western Cape is hard enough. It’s rocky and warmer than usual - don’t kill your partner in the first few days, you will need him (or her) in the end.
Also, having this hard terrain in the beginning of the week is going to be telling later on - there is a lot of climbing still to come. The overall climbing is not ‘that’ much but the terrain makes it super difficult. The profile doesn’t tell the whole story and there will be slow average speeds.”
ON THE SECRET
“There is nothing that keeps you more humble than a stage race like this - one day you’re the nail, the next you’re the hammer. You need to keep communicating. If you (as the stronger partner on the day) need to tap it down a bit, do it - tomorrow might be your turn to suffer. You’re not here to race your partner, you’re here to race the Absa Cape Epic and the other competitors, so just be good to each other.”