HomeMountain BikeContained in the Cape Epic with Haley Batten and Sofia Gomez Villafañe

Contained in the Cape Epic with Haley Batten and Sofia Gomez Villafañe

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In a area of 15 elite ladies’s groups, Individuals Haley Batten and Sofia Gomez Villafañe are standout favorites at this week’s Cape Epic.

The duo, who each experience for Specialised, will face stiff competitors from South African riders, in addition to a crew led by Pauline Ferrand-Prèvot, and two squads from Liv Racing, however they’re assured that their on-ground assist, strong winter coaching, and in-race communication might land them on the highest step.

Associated: Who to observe at this yr’s Cape Epic

Batten, 23, will concentrate on World Cups within the upcoming season, whereas Gomez Villafañe, 27, has her sights set on massive races in lots of disciplines. Performing nicely on the Cape Epic is a season aim for each.

Along with sporting the Specialised emblem on their equipment, the ladies can even be driving in assist of Songo.information, a social growth program that makes use of sport and training to supply alternatives for kids within the Stellenbosch area of South Africa.

We caught up with Batten and Gomez Villafañe from their pre-race lodging in Stellenbosch.

VeloNews: What has winter coaching been like for you two? 

Haley Batten: I really went again to high school in Squamish BC. It’s undoubtedly been a bit completely different than my winter final yr, nevertheless it was good to get again right into a routine of going to high school and doing all that. I additionally acquired in some good expertise coaching there and have had some very nice breaks as nicely the place I used to be again in Santa Cruz and acquired in some good endurance coaching. Undoubtedly with this occasion on my calendar, it’s tremendous essential that I’m going in actually sturdy and well-prepared in endurance, and an excellent base season is a giant a part of that. Though I used to be on the coach a bit greater than I used to be final season I believe that I’m nonetheless very well ready and able to tackle this massive occasion.

Sofia Gomez Villafañe: My winter has been actually good. Keegan [Swenson] and I went to Tucson loads sooner than regular. We usually go at the start of the yr however this yr we had been there in November, so I had an excellent December by early March there. For me, this base season I targeted extra on my tempo and driving onerous all day. That actually has to do with the truth that I’m switching extra to gravel and marathon type of racing however the coaching for it’s really excellent for what we’re about to embark on.

VN: Have you ever stage raced collectively? How will you complement one another, and what might potential pressure factors be? 

Batten: We haven’t. Sofia’s going into a complete new occasion and sequence within the US, and I believe that sort of fashion and racing will actually help to how sturdy she’ll be at this occasion. That’s a giant cause why I wished to crew up along with her for this. I actually suppose that though we haven’t stage raced collectively, she has the energy. We’ve really identified one another for a very long time and so I believe we’ll be actually appropriate. We’ve already been capable of experience the paths right here and spend a whole lot of time main into the Cape Epic collectively, and I believe the best way we talk and our driving collectively it’s gonna be a very good matchup and I’m actually trying ahead to that

Gomez Villafañe: Like Haley stated, every little thing is basically constructive. The one attainable pinch level or pressure level is ensuring that our communication through the race stays open and that, if somebody’s having a foul day, that we actually concentrate on speaking about that so we’re not simply ripping one another’s legs off. You actually need to be sure to talk along with your companion and that you just work collectively to have a quick total time fairly than having one be redlined. The prologue and the primary few levels are essential, however actually these final three days….the Cape Epic is a race that you just lose not a race that’s actually gained on sure key days.

VN: Who’re you most intrigued by as rivals? 

Batten: It’s gonna be a very thrilling race. We’ve got some native riders that know the terrain fairly nicely and that’s gonna be a software of their pocket, then now we have Pauline [Ferrand Prevot] and a few actually good marathon racers as nicely that I’ve raced towards together with Ariane Lüthi within the Swiss Epic so I believe we all know there’s some actually sturdy women right here and I’m actually enthusiastic about that, it’ll increase the bar for us as nicely and permit us to actually focus and dial in our prep and ensure we’re completely dialed for every day. On the finish of the day, it’s as much as me and Sofia and the way we work collectively and ensuring we use each of our strengths and ensure we’re each our greatest every day as a crew. It’s less than the person riders it’s actually as much as how we experience collectively. It’s all about speaking and doing that nicely and I believe that’s the place the strongest crew will win.

Gomez Villafañe: I’m probably the most intrigued about haley and I! I simply can’t wait. The brand new factor this yr is the prologue is a brand new course, new location, nobody has actually raced it. So we don’t know what a quick time is. As a result of it’s new it creates a complete new begin to the race, the place one thing that was tremendous predicable for everybody is modified. The TT is a bit tougher so it’ll be fascinating to see what occasions occur.

It’s good to see a whole lot of different Individuals right here too with Crystal [Anthony], Kaysee [Armstrong], and Serena [Bishop-Gordon]. It’s all the time good to have a robust American based-bontingency. It’ll be an excellent ladies’s race for certain.

VN: Is that this the identical course you rode final yr Sofia? 

Gomez Villafañe: The course all the time adjustments. The TT was all the time the identical however that’s modified this yr. Completely different cities, completely different trails, a very new ambiance. I believe this yr will probably be much more trails whereas final yr was a bit extra on hearth street. I believe that can convey a brand new facet as a result of velocity gained’t be as excessive. That will probably be fascinating and clearly after the TT and the primary day which is the queen stage will probably be fascinating to see what the occasions are after which actually if there’s a transparent chief, how a lot of a problem individuals need to put up for stage wins.

VN: What do you want and dislike about stage racing versus say, World Cup-style occasions? 

Batten: I really love stage racing. I really feel like each time we go to chill locations whether or not it’s a World Cup or simply touring, I’m all the time discovering methods to route on Strava and on my Wahoo how I can discover the most effective trails and the climbs and see every little thing in a brief time frame. However while you’re getting ready for a World Cup, you actually need to save lots of each match and prep for that at some point and having the ability to go totally max for an hour and a half. So for me, these occasions are kinda like my dream of how I get to discover an space by having 5 hour rides on daily basis within the coolest, most lovely locations. I really feel like that’s actually the true definition of mountain biking — that we get to completely discover a spot and embrace what the game has to supply.

Gomez Villafañe: It’s good to have a aim. It’s such an early season aim that it really makes you much more motivated in base coaching. World Cup racing is loopy, you might want to do it loads and undergo that entire course of — junior racing, then U23 then the elite to really feel actually comfy. For me, it’s one thing I haven’t had the chance to do a lot of so I nonetheless get fairly overwhelmed in a World Cup. However at a stage race like this, you’re out for a really very long time in very popular situations so it’s a bit bit simpler to handle in that sense. It’s a distinct sort of driving and I believe the cool factor is we additionally get to share it with like 500 individuals on the market doing the very same course.

VN: What are your massive targets for the 2022 season? 

Batten: Actually the Cape Epic is a giant aim for me this season. Particularly with Specialised’s ladies having carried out so nicely at this occasion with Annika [Langvad, five-time winner] and Sina and Laura [Frei and Stigger, 2021 winners] doing so nicely final yr, taking that problem on is one thing that basically excites me. I believe Sofia and I are able to performing very well. As Sofia talked about, this occasion itself is definitely actually good coaching and preparation for the remainder of the season. My eyes are undoubtedly on performing and constructing on what I used to be capable of accomplish at World Cups final yr and my eyes are undoubtedly on world champs subsequent yr and seeing if I can come out and present that I’m sturdy at a kind of giant single day occasions.

Gomez Villafañe: For me, clearly the Cape Epic can also be an enormous aim however with the brand new program I’m one, Specialised Off-Street, what I actually wished was to be knowledgeable bicycle owner and get to dabble in a whole lot of disciplines. Issues I’m concentrating on — from the Cape Epic to eBike worlds and gravel worlds and Unbound. They’re such reverse spectrums of the game but I’m on a crew that helps and truly encourages me dabbling in a bunch of disciplines.

Though Haley and I’ve utterly completely different targets after march twenty seventh, it’s wonderful how useful that is going to be for each of us to construct upon for the remainder of the season.




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