New partner brings new Epic opportunities for Candice Lill

Team dormakaba rider Candice Lill is looking forward to partnering with Amy McDougall for the challenging eight-day Cape Epic mountain bike stage race starting this weekend.

Even though the loss of both Candice and Amy’s partners due to last-minute injuries would have been otherwise devastating, they are excited about being able to team up and race together for the first time.

“It has been quite a crazy week following [German cross-country mountain biker] Adelheid’s broken wrist in a race this past weekend. Fortunately, both Amy and myself have been training hard and putting a lot of work into both the physical and mental aspects of the race,” says Candice.

After placing fifth overall at the recent Tankwa Trek held in the Western Cape, Amy is showing good form.

“I look forward to getting the best out of Amy and vice versa. We rode together this week and it was great to share in each other’s excitement. With sport it is not always about winning but sometimes more about the journey and how you overcome the obstacles in your way,” says Candice.

Amy agrees.

“Although the partnership is last minute and unfortunate that we both lost our partners, I am really looking forward to racing the Epic with Candice. We get along very well, know how to suffer, and have experience in what it takes to succeed in a stage race. I am also really looking forward to being part of the dormakaba set up. Racing at an elite level is impossible without proper support from a team like them,” she says.

Both riders are keen on challenging for the African jersey for women, the first year the race has introduced this category.

“This shows just how far the women’s race has grown to have enough riders to warrant this category. It brings opportunities not only for the two of us but all women competing at the Epic and really helps to increase awareness of the sport. We can use the Epic as inspiration to female cyclists and women in general,” says Candice.

Candice believes the unique pressures of the Epic mirror life outside cycling.

“You are racing at your limit daily. But even the best preparation means very little if you experience a significant mechanical failure or your partner gets injured. But you must stay strong and approach every challenge as it comes. In the Epic, you learn a lot about teamwork and see the real side of people. The competitors are under pressure the entire time with some responding better to it than others. It builds character and you learn to trust one another. In life, you must stay strong and realise not everything will always go smoothly. It is how you adapt that makes the difference,” she says.

Shaun Frayne, MD of dormakaba South Africa, says the commitment both riders have shown to overcome changing their partners at such a critical time of preparations shows just how hard they are willing to work to make the race a success.

“The Epic is one of the most famous stage races in the world. To compete at this level requires strength of character, both physically and mentally. Candice and Amy are testament to how you need to continually adapt to life and overcome any obstacles thrown your way.”