04-03-2015, CANYON Topeak Ergon Racing Team

Talking to the Albanator

First race down, first victory in the bag! Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek of Topeak-Ergon Racing Team (TERT) got 2015 off to the perfect start by winning the Andalucia Bike Race last week. Everything looks on track for one of the biggest objectives of the season: the ABSA Cape Epic. We spoke to Alban, aka the Albanator, to get the inside line on last week’s win and talk about his preparations as TERT prepares to defend their title against the world’s best in South Africa.    

Congratulations on the win in Spain. How was the race? Did you have to battle hard across the six days or do you think your form is further ahead than the competition at this point in the season?

AL: Thanks! It couldn’t have gone any better really but it wasn’t easy. The first three stages had really long climbs and we had a hard time keeping up with two of the teams from Spain and Portugal. The second half of the race featured more short, sharp climbs and technical descents where we could get an advantage. All in all we're really pleased with how it went.

What were you riding this year? Has your setup changed much compared to last year?

AL: We were on the full suspension Lux CFlike last year but this time around we are riding Sram wheels and brakes, so two pretty major component changes to get used to, plus we’re using the new handlebars and stems from Canyon. We had no mechanical issues whatsoever so everything is looking good for the rest of the season.

The 2015 ABSA Cape Epic is fast approaching and preparation looks to be going well. What’s the plan from now until the start of the race? Is it time for more intensive training or do you tone things down a little to save energy?

AL: Kicking the season off with a win is ideal but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t work to do before Cape Epic, that race is a step up above the rest. Right now we are focussing on recovery but there’s still time to get a couple of intense training blocks in and try to hone form before the big showdown.

Do you have different setups for different races? Will you run everything the same in South Africa as you did in Spain?

AL: Once you find the setup that works best then you don’t tend to change it too much throughout the season. Andalucia Bike Race was great for dialling in the right settings for the rest of the year. When it comes to one-day races we might pick a lighter casing for the tyres to get a bit more speed but otherwise everything stays pretty much the same.

How many bikes do you take to each race?

AL: We usually have two identical bikes at each race so that if something does go wrong you’ve always got a replacement on hand.

Where you heading now and what will happen to the bikes before Cape Epic?

AL: I’m now back home in Austria but I’ll fly out to South Africa about a week before the race to get used to the climate and conditions over there. After most races our mechanic takes my race bike back to the team workshop and gives it a complete service. I keep hold of my second bike and use that for training.

Do you still get nervous when it comes to the big races?

AL: I only get nervous before the really big races or ones where we compete as a team. I sometimes lose a bit of sleep before a team race because the number of things that could go wrong is basically doubled.

The ABSA Cape Epic starts on the 15th of March. Follow the Team on Facebookfor all the latest news.