Even now, being retired from the world of World Cup racing, Merida athlete José Antonio Hermida is not holding back when it comes to his training and the mark he intends to leave on a race.

In preparation for the upcoming ABSA Cape Epic which he will be competing in alongside close friend and also ‘retired’ road racer Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodríguez, the Andalucía Bike Race was the perfect race to test the form, sharpen the skills and start his new career as a MERIDA athlete.

From the start, José Antonio Hermida was pushing hard to stay in contention and managed to settle early on in a comforting top ten position in the high-quality field this year’s Andalucía Bike Race managed to attract.

“We have never seen speeds like this in the Andalucía Bike Race before and I am very satisfied having finished this race in 7th position overall.”

–  José Antonio Hermida after the race.

José started the event coming 7th in the prologue – just over a minute shy of the podium but was not able to maintain that position in the following 3+ hour stage. However the following day, José showed his class and managed to finish in 5th position just seconds of the podium and with that managed to put himself in 5th position overall. The pace was neck breaking and a ‘not so perfect’ 4th stage would see José’s overall position go down a few places. Thanks to his experience and the brutal training he endured over the last few weeks, a solid performance in the final stages brought him back to an impressive 7th position overall.

The event was also the ‘baptism of fire’ for José’s teammate in the upcoming ABSA Cape Epic – Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodríguez. Even with only three days, Purito could spend in the event, he managed to see huge improvements in his technical skills and the ability to adapt to the rhythm of mountain biking.

He comments, “It has been an unforgettable experience for me. Coming from the road I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the mountain bike family has been so welcoming and friendly that my worries were quickly blown away. Even I haven’t been able to be at the front of the field, it has been very educational for me and has given me the opportunity to learn from other riders as well as being amongst the fans. Unfortunately, I was only able to complete 3 stages, but I have noticed a big improvement in myself over the three says. This gives me real confidence for the upcoming challenges in the ABSA Cape Epic.”

“It has also been fantastic to be so well looked after by the MERIDA team. I only knew José before I turned up for the event and everybody in the team has been super welcoming and helpful – perfect preparation for our next big adventure in South Africa.”

All eyes are now on the ABSA Cape Epic where the two MERIDA athletes will ride side by side and will try to leave their mark on this great adventure.

Both riders have been on board the super light and hugely capable full carbon NINETY-SIX TEAM. The lightning fast full suspension bike will be back underneath the riders in the APSA Cape Epic and will offer the perfect combination of agility, comfort and traction.

Sun 5th Mar, 2017 @ 12:30 pm

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