If you've been following the MTB scene the last years even a little bit, I'm sure you will have heard of these epic racers, and are well aware of their amazing palmares and experience. But for those who don't, we had the chance to ask them a few questions, look ahead to the Rwandan Epic race, and look back at what they've done before.
Hi you both, how are you doing? Welcome to Rwanda, the small and hilly country in the heart of Africa. What did you know about the country before?
Frans: I must admit I don’t know a lot of Rwanda yet. Kigali as the capital and the Gorillas as the national pride are the two things coming to my mind.
Ariane: I guess everyone knows about the Genocide. When I got to know Adrian Niyonshuti a little bit while racing in South Africa, the dark history of the country got a face for me. His life story is incredibly heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. From my former team mate who raced African XCO Champs in Rwanda I heard that it is a beautiful country for bike riding, so I can’t wait to come and discover it myself.
Is the beauty of the country your reason for joining the race then?
Ariane: To discover new places by bike on the paths less travelled is what made me fall in love with this sport. When I got the opportunity to ride my bike in the heart of Africa I jumped at it. And of course it would be incredible to see some Gorillas!
Frans: Africa is a continent that always intrigued me, especially the middle of Africa with his big forests and wild nature. Hearing about the Rwandan Epic made me dream to explore this region and it’s wildlife.
It's a great thing to look forward to, especially after a year like this. Tell us, how has your 2020 been?
Frans: With the covid19 pandemic it has been a difficult year so far. Many races have been cancelled and the ones that are still scheduled are uncertain to happen. I have been training a lot during the lockdown, but not knowing when races are about to start makes it difficult to plan well and to keep the motivation sky high.
Ariane: The cancellation of the Cape Epic was a big shock but made me realise that there is far more important things than bike racing. Being a professional cyclist is such a self-centered job, it’s almost scary how one can loose perspective when the focus is set on a goal. Being forced to take a break from that tunnel vision and stepping out of the hamster wheel for some time has had a great effect on me. After 10 years of racing intensively, it was overdue that I could do some other stuff and explore the different sides of me. Now I feel more motivated than ever to work on the hard stuff as an athlete and get back to racing.
Many people have seen you racing already, but can you tell us something that we, and many of your fans, perhaps don't know yet?
Frans: Since 2009 I eat 100% plantbased, also known as vegan. Since I heard the Rwandan people are also eating a lot of vegetables and fruits I can’t wait to taste the Rwandan food culture.
Ariane:I have a Master’s Degree in Sport Science but also studied Media science and old Swiss history as side subjects. Studying history was an incredibly humbling experience and made me realize that I far rather ride a bike than read books!