In the 2022 Cape Epic we saw history being made with the yellow jersey changing shoulders on the last stage, with Georg Egger and Lukas Baum of Speed Company Racing making up the three minutes they needed on Canyon Northwave to take the overall win. The Cape Epic is always a nail biting race where the riders put everything on the line, but this year two young Germans really brought the heat. Georg Egger and Lukas Baum announced at the beginning of the week of racing that they ‘didn’t come to take part, (they) came to take over’, they did not disappoint!
Who are Speed Company Racing?
The Speed Company Racing Team are a new team made up of Georg Egger and Lukas Baum, a former Junior XCO World Champion, a title he also won in South Africa, in Pietermaritzburg in 2013. Lukas has been taking a break from professional mountain biking but motivated by Georg, his best friend, has gotten back on the bike. The two have ridden together since they were racing U15 and Lukas says he can tell how fast Georg can go ‘just by looking at his legs’. This partnership proved to work really well as they could really play to one another’s strengths.
Being a new team they had limited funding and were not sure if they would be able to get the funding to race the Cape Epic, but a few weeks before the race things came together and the pair, along with Lukas’ father, flew out to South Africa. They managed to hire one of the last campervans available in the country and got ready for 8 days of the toughest MTB race in the world, the Cape Epic.
With a support crew of one, Lukas’ dad, the pair had to do all of their own bike washing, mechanics, food prep and other general prep, after every stage, that factory racing teams would have a whole team to do. This meant they had less recovery time each day, but they were still the main movers and shakers on every stage.
An epic week of racing at the Cape Epic
With reportedly one of the toughest Cape Epic routes in history, with climbs so steep we even saw the pros off their bikes, and extremely hot conditions at the start of the week, with a rainy stage later on, the Cape Epic really lived up to its reputation as the race that measures all. In both the men’s and ladies’ races we saw a shift in the yellow jersey after the first stage, with Songo 91 Specialized team, Haley Batten and Sofia Gomez-Villafane taking the yellow jerseys from Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Robyn de Groot of BMC Racing, and the Canon Northwave team of Martin StoŠek and Andreas Seewald taking the yellow jerseys from defending champion Matt Beers and his partner Christopher Blevins. Despite several stage wins by other teams including the final stage at Val de Vie by South African Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss of Faces Rola, the Songo 91 Specialized team managed to maintain their lead on general classification and take the overall win. The men’s race saw the general classification leaderboard results changing every day, but Canyon North Wave managed to hold the yellow jerseys until the last stage, starting the last day with a 2 minute 45 second lead on Speed Company Racing.
Speed Company Racing had a slow start to the race, but after overcoming their early issues they were able to win the third stage into Greyton and continue to take back time from the yellow jerseys on almost every stage after that. They started the final stage in second on general classification, just 2 minutes 45 seconds off the leaders and they went full gas from the start, making a move up the first climb to distance Canyon Northwave. They managed to build this gap throughout the stage but with only a one-man strong backup team, it was hard to get them information on the course of how big their gap was. Lukas and Georg rode so hard their media e-bike ridden by Stefan Sahm, a former Cape Epic winner, struggled to keep up, saying ‘It’s like they are winching themselves to the finish’. The Speed Company Racing duo flew over the line and then had to endure the nail biting 2 minutes 45 seconds wait until the final announcement that they were the winners of the 2022 Cape Epic, making history as the first team to win the overall on the last stage.
In an emotional post race interview Lukas said that ‘I’m so emotional right now, this is just riding my bike with my best friend and it has paid off in a great way.’
Egger added, ‘We didn’t know we were in the overall lead. We knew nothing. It was actually better that way because if we knew we had the lead we probably would have made a mistake.’
These two young German privateers came to South Africa with one supporter but they are definitely leaving with the support of the South African Nation. We salute you!