The Epic Legends can class themselves among the toughest mountain bikers in the world. They may not, necessarily, be racing for podium positions; but they have completed three of the most challenging events in global mountain biking, the Absa Cape Epic, the Swiss Epic in Graubünden and The Pioneer fuelled by Nutri-Grain. Now, two of them are taking on the all-new Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees.
Legend status is hard earned in the Epic Series. In a flawless run of fitness, health, and mechanical good fortune it requires completing 20 race days, across 3 continents. There are mountain bikers who try for years to complete just one of the Absa Cape Epic, the Swiss Epic in Graubünden and the Pioneer fuelled by Nutri-Grain. Yet there are 57 Epic Legends, from 15 nations. Two of them will be taking up the new challenge and racing the inaugural Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees, an Epic Series Classic stage race.
Hosted by La Massana, the home of the world renowned Vallnord Bike Park, the race features a prologue and three marathon stages. From the 30th of June to the 3rd of July, it will treat riders to 153-kilometres of amazing mountain biking, while challenging every team with 5 060-metres of climbing, including multiple trips to over 2 000-metres above sea level.
Sébastien Carabin is a rider who has proven adept at conquering mountains. Be they the fold mountains of South Africa’s Western Cape; the mighty Alps of Graubünden; or Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, New Zealand’s cloud covered Southern Alps. What makes this feat remarkable is that Carabin hails from Belgium, a country of Murs and Bergs rather than epic mountain passes.
He completed the Absa Cape Epic in 2012 and 2017, then added the Pioneer fuelled by Nutri-Grain to his palmarès in 2019, before traveling to Graubünden in 2020 to earn an Epic Legend medal at the Swiss Epic. “The first thing which comes to mind, when seeing the Epic Series logo on an event, is trust” Carabin praised. “As a rider I can trust that the race will be superbly organised. Everything will be well thought-out and designed; from the technical zone to the food, the start and finish area, bike washes, accommodation, and it goes without saying a world class route. An additional factor which is often overlooked are the friendly and efficient staff. All of this gives me great confidence.”
“I expect the Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees to treat us to the most beautiful mountain biking tracks in the area” the UCI registered BH – WALLONIE rider added. “The Epic Series routes are also incredibly well marked, which makes racing on them a lot easier. Another aspect I’m looking forward to is fact that it’s a team event. To race as a duo is very special. You have to ride together to achieve your team’s goal, always taking into account the level of the weakest rider in the team. But also having a teammate gives you someone to relive the day’s racing with, to relax with in the race village and to reminisce with for years to come. I’m looking forward to continuing that Epic Series journey!”
Fellow Belgian, Jurgen de Witte has an additional Epic Series race finish on his resumé. De Witte has completed three Absa Cape Epics, gaining him Amabubesi status, along with a single edition of The Pioneer, fuelled by Nutri-Grain, and the Swiss Epic, in Graubünden. A committed age-grouper, he finished just outside the Masters category top 10 in his most Epic Series outing, finishing 12th in the 2020 Swiss Epic alongside Bart Seynaeve.
“I’m looking forward to a well-organised adventure” De Witte said of the inaugural Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees. “When I see the Epic Series logo, I know I’m signing up for another great adventure with an excellent organisation!”
Despite his stage racing experience and expertise, De Witte played down his racing ambitions for the first Epic Series Classic race he has entered. “I never have high expectations; I’m just aiming to finish the race without crashes and in one piece” he smiled.
“The Epic Series creates another challenge, once you’ve ridden one you want to ride them all” he added. “We live in a world full of stress; so being away, in another country, doing something you love, surrounded by people who all love mountain biking makes you forget work and stress for a few days. Everybody needs that from time to time.”