Interview with Lukas Baum after winning the Cape Epic 2022: "The strategy was to go full gas from the start, each and every day"

Mountain bike 29/03/22 17:53 Migue A.

The Speed Company Team has been a breath of fresh air for mountain biking. The 2022 edition of the Cape Epic was one of the toughest in recent years due to the level of the competitors, but the victory did not go to any of the favourites. Georg Egger and Lukas Baum took the victory with a minimal team and a spectacular racing style.

We were able to talk to Lukas just two days after his victory and he told us all about his experience, problems, equipment and strategy to win this race. He also gave us a sneak preview that we will almost certainly see him defending the title next year.

Lukas Baum always attacking © Simon Pocock | Cape Epic

Interview with Lukas Baum, half of the Speed Company Team, after winning the Absa Cape Epic 2022

It was your first Cape Epic and you won, was that part of the plan? 

Well, it's part of our DNA. It’s part of our race DNA that every race we participating in, we want to do as as good as possible. And so it's our riding style, our offensive riding style. We knew that we are in good shape. And the first race in the season in Spain, the Costa Blanca Bike Race and the Mediterranean Epic went perfect for us. We got better and better. And we saw that we are at least on the level of the competition. The World Elite XCM Champion was in the last race in the Mediterranean, so we could have a good estimation on our shape. So we knew that we had good chances in the Cape Epic. So to answer your question, was the plan to win it? Yes, it was. Was it realistic in the point of the start? Maybe not.

Was the plan to win it? Yes, it was. Was it realistic in the point of the start? Maybe not.

Some teams were more conservative on certain days, but Speed Company Racing attacked on almost every stage, what was your strategy before the race?

Yeah, I think it's connected to the first question. This is our riding style. The strategy we had was to set a mark on the Prologue stage to go as fast as possible. We already got the first one. The first confirmation of our good shape and we had to keep pushing from the beginning on. We wanted to get in the leader's jersey. Unfortunately, we struggled a bit the first days. On the first stage with the heat, on the second stage with a bit of a stomach problem… but we never gave up completely and kept the good pace although we had some lows during the stages. So the strategy was really that: full gas from the start, each and every day.

So the strategy was really that: full gas from the start, each and every day.

© Nick Muzik | Cape Epic

With your team-mate Georg Egger you have proved to be one of the most balanced pairs of the edition, what do you think is your main strength?

I think the answer is lies within that question. One of the big key factors of our success I think is the harmony and the synergy between us. Although we may be different on many points, but the counterbalance is super good. When it comes to cycling, I think we are around the same level so none of us is like so much better than the other and ultimately kills the other one during the stage. So we could help each other on the time where one partner was having a bit of trouble. I was struggling a bit, so the other one was pushing a bit more and keep motivating each other and I think in other factors that we also off the bike are best friends.

I have no problem living within a closed space like a caravan with Georg for for two and a half weeks without killing each other literally. We're not getting fed up of each other, we grew up in that sport. We grew up in tight environments, emotional environments with a lot of stress. Maybe all the races we did before in the junior category and in the amateur category made us who we are, a team like we are right now and gave us all the experience to to make it happen as a newbie team in the Cape Epic. So although we are newbie team, we already have so much experience together. To me, it just feels like riding the bike with your best friend. Just in a different environment.

In terms of equipment, we've seen you flying on your Orbea Oiz and we think you only suffered a flat tyre on stage 1. How did you do with your set-up? Would you change anything?

We were riding the Orbea Oiz with 120 millimeters suspension in the front and in the back. I think that was also a key factor. We made that experience in the early stage races in the season. That bit of extra travel and suspension gives you more confidence and more security in the downhills so you don't max out your your suspension where the tire is in danger of an over puncher. It gives you a bit of extra comfort, which makes you faster in the end.

It's maybe not the lightest setup, but I would definitely choose security and comfort in the Cape Epic over pure lightweight, tuning your bike. We only suffered one puncher. That's true. Although I think like many other riders, they experienced thorns, which is typical for the region here in the tires. So many times I saw some some sealant squirting out of my tire. But luckily, the sealant close to tire immediately. And that just lost a bit of air which was in the in the normal range.

The first and only real flat tire we suffered was from a piece of glass. We were riding together with Scott SRAM and Nino Schurter punctured at the same time, we had literally a puncture at the same spot. Lars and Nino went through the same piece of glass. We fixed it a bit quicker than Scott, they had to plug it I think two times and we blocked it once well, also two times. But it was a bit quicker. But other than that we had no major mechanical issue.

If I would change anything, maybe I have to think about it a bit more. But right now as the setup we have I wouldn't change anything I have to say. It was perfect the way it was. I think also what played a major factor is our wheel sets. We had special wheels by Bike Ahead Components. And with a special construction of their rims, where the edges of the rims are more flared out to the side, which provides a wider surface where the tire is touching the rim on the potential puncture, so that the contact surface is smaller. Therefore less force on an on equal space is applied, which gives you more security on punctures and less like your likelihood of punches and with those washed out downhills and super fast downhills where you sometimes can't even see the ground and with the guy in front of you putting up all the dust you have to take some risks and you have to take in consideration that you might hit a rock you're not even aware of. So your tires and your wheels should be able to handle that.

I think with only one flat tire caused by a piece of glass we made the right choices when it comes to tires and wheels. And the Oiz was just perfect. I think the Oiz is made for racing you can definitely feel the DNA with the set-up of the steering angle and also the the low bottom bracket it's nice around corners. It's super nice to race with.

© Nick Muzik | Cape Epic

We think that your support team was not as extensive as the teams you were fighting for the victory, how was your routine after each stage?

Yeah, that's a question we hear a lot. Our set-up is basically the minimal set-up. We had one camper and that's it. That was our home base. Everything we had was in here. We cook for ourselves, we had no mechanic we had just my dad which was just like the mate for everything.

He washed the dishes, he washed our bikes afterwards. But the routine after each stage was immediately to refill our tanks. So before the stage, we had recovery shakes, we drank that immediately afterwards, one or two, to get quick carbohydrates into the muscles and start the recovery process.

We would also like to sleep a bit directly after the stage and calm down. With a heatwave, it was also impossible to get out of the sun immediately. Try to cool your body temperature down and with the AC in the camper was perfect.

Sometimes the team of Pauline Ferrand-Prevot gave us the opportunity to jump into an ice bath. They were neighbors and they were super nice. So big shout outs to Sabine Spitz, who was the team manager. Yeah, it was a nice week beside them. And then, around two or three, we had a little coffee, got out of the bed again, start thinking about next day. At four, we started cooking. Between five and six, we had dinner here in the caravan. And then afterwards, we started to prepare all the bottles for the next day. We put them into a freezer to have like frozen bottles to keep them as cool as possible for a long time. To have the possibility to cool your body down during a stage, I think it was crucial on the hot stages.

Sometimes the team of Pauline Ferrand-Prevot gave us the opportunity to jump into an ice bath

After dinner, when my father was washing the dishes, we gave a final touch to the bikes. Put some lubricant to the suspension and the drivetrain. Yeah, I made the final adjustments, checked all the screws, tires, if there's any major problem, and fortunately, we had no major problem until the last stage. So we didn't have to manicure the bikes too much, just a little final touch. And that was it.

Each day we went to bed at around eight, stretched a bit that maybe some electrostimulation on the muscles. And then went to sleep.

The next day started each and every day at five o'clock, there was the alarm. We had breakfast, lay down a bit after breakfast, get dressed, got out of the camper, check our tire pressure. And then if we had enough time, we did a little spin before the race. But there were a few stages where it was a bit hectic before the start and we just went to the start line. So not even a warm up, just to the start line and and full gas from the beginning.

What are your plans for the rest of the season, XCO World Cup?

Well, we had already and the sophisticated race schedule planned from the beginning on but, our last minute adjustment that we actually take part of the Cape Epic through that whole thing over. So we have to adjust it a bit.

Let's see how we recovered from the Cape Epic but in on our race schedule right now there are definitely the European World Cups starting in Albstadt and then Nove Mesto. It's a bit unclear on the date at the moment if we are or which race we're doing before. Georg wants to do maybe a race in the Czech Republic. I will maybe do the Volcat and then Santa Susana afterwards because I really like Spain and with a Spanish speaking girlfriend I have kind of a connection to Spain too and with Orbea now.

After that our race plan highlights until the end of the season are the championships of course in Cross Country, the European Championships in our home country Germany, the World Championships in Les Gets and then in the end of the year the World Championships also in Denmark on marathon, which we think we have a good chance of competing on for the title because that race profile is suiting us so well. We already got the confirmation that we adjust the best to the flat sections with just raw power and I think with the clever race plan and clever race tactics. I think we can definitely be just in the front there as we were here in the Cape Epic.

I guess you already know that for the fans you have been a breath of fresh air and a real spectacle in this edition. Will we see you next year in the Cape Epic?

Yeah, it's incredible. It's incredible the support we experienced in from all over the World and especially here from South Africa from the locals.

They were cheering for us. After the first stages already. I think it was the the way we were riding or riding style which, which were, like you said was a breath of fresh air and and really impressed them. I think that's the style the South Africans like and they were cheering us on from like, on different places all over the track. I think we definitely come back to defend our title.

We like racing here. We like the environment. We like the country. And we would be honored to defend it next year. But this time with the big target on our back. Now, we're not the underdogs anymore. No, no, no, everyone knows who we are. It's going to be different race dynamics.

We're super new team we're still looking for sponsors. We're still looking to follow to grow. And I think we proved the point that we can be on top of the World

Maybe we have to win it in the same fashion as we wanted this year. Just from the front again, just going so hard that no one can follow. Let's see. Let's see how we can do next year. We already excited. Yeah, like I said, we're thankful for all the support. We're super new team we're still looking for sponsors. We're still looking to follow to grow. And I think we proved the point that we can be on top of the World, we can be one of the best and it would be nice to take you with us on our journey. So yeah. Keep following us. Thanks for your time!



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Entrevista a Lukas Baum tras ganar la Cape Epic 2022: "La estrategia fue salir a full gas desde el inicio, todos y cada uno de los días"