Conservative Start for Amputees Wilson and Van Niekerk at Absa Cape Epic

Para-cyclists Dane Wilson and Reuben van Niekerk are pleased to have safely completed the Prologue to the grueling Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race that began today at the Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville, Western Cape.

Wilson, who was born with his left forearm and hand missing, was the first amputee to successfully complete the Absa Cape Epic in 2009. This year he returns with fellow amputee Van Niekerk, who lost his leg later in life.

Their early prologue time slot seemed to suit both riders. “Our start was early and the weather much cooler, so we were happy,” said Wilson. “We don’t have a high seeding but we’re fine with that, now we must work through the field.”

The Driepoot Toyota team riders competed in a few mountain bike marathons together prior to the Absa Cape Epic, and have a good feel for the teamwork involved in the 8-day race.

“Our strengths lie in the downhill and singletrack sections,” continued Wilson. “We both had a small mishap today – my pedal came off soon after the start, and an overeager overseas rider crashed into Reuben on one of the descents, but we had more of a laugh than anything else.

“The route was fantastic, the Capetonians are really spoilt with the types of trails here.”

Wilson and Van Niekerk will remain conservative in their approach in anticipation of what they feel to be the tough stages, those of Tuesday and Friday. “We need to mentally get through Tuesday, that looks like it is going to be a cracker day for us,” says Wilson. “I think we will gain a lot of confidence once Tuesday is behind us. The Cape Epic is a long raceand anything can happen in 8 days.”

Wilson and Van Niekerk posted a time of 1 hour 37 minutes 03,8 seconds.

Photo: Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS