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The Cape Epic’s latest power couple: Sofia Gomez Villafañe and Katerina Nash

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From Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España and everything in between, don’t miss a moment when you >”,”name”:”in-content-cta”,” ” type”:”link”}}”>join outside+.

On October 13, Sofia Gomez Villafañe texted Katerina Nash, “Hey, hey! Out of curiosity, desire or interest in driving Cape Epic? 👀’

The 28-year-old said she “expected a quick ‘no thanks’ — instead, I got a call to discuss what it would look like,” she said. “I’m thrilled to compete alongside such a legend and icon in the sport.”

Related: Inside the Cape Epic starring Haley Batten and Sofia Gomez Villafane

Last year, Gomez Villafañe and teammate Haley Batten beat the competition in the South African stage race, winning three stages and the overall. While it will be Nash’s first outing at the Cape Epic, the veteran cross-country racer will have no trouble fitting in with some of the world’s best mountain bikers.

Though Nash has technically retired from pro racing, he still competes — and achieves impressive results — in everything from gravel to downcountry mountain bike racing.

And after a glittering career mostly focused on World Cup cyclocross racing, the Czech-born rider can now spend her winters in the backcountry, cross-country and hit long rides when she’s in the temperate San Francisco Bay.

That’s exactly what she did recently.

“I’ve watched the Cape Epic from afar but never had the opportunity to participate,” Nash said. “My winter focus for the past 15 years has been cyclocross, which doesn’t mix well with the long endurance mountain bike races in March. Not racing cross anymore has allowed me to work on the stamina I need for Cape Epic.”

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While Gomez Villafañe, 28, and Nash, 45, might seem like an unlikely duo given their age and points in their pro cycling career, both agree the unique talents they bring could add up to a much larger sum than theirs parts.

Clif Pro Team riders Nash and Gomez Villafañe at the 2021 Iceman MTB race. (Photo: Courtesy of Sofia Gomez Villafañe)

In addition to being the reigning Cape Epic Champion, Gomez Villafañe also won Unbound Gravel and finished second overall in the Life Time Grand Prix series last year. Her 2023 schedule will largely mimic the gravel-heavy calendar she had last year.

“I’m thrilled to compete with Sofia,” said Nash. “I’ve seen her move through the ranks and become one of the world’s best riders. Your experience at Cape Epic will be extremely valuable. While I have extensive experience from all types of racing, I think Sofia’s two editions of Cape Epic over the next eight days will benefit from that.”

Although both Nash and Gomez Villafañe have been with Specialized for years and even overlapped two seasons on the Clif Pro Team, they haven’t raced together that often.

Still, Gomez Villafañe is confident in the “legend and icon” who is her 2023 Cape Epic partner.

“Katerina has this amazing wealth of knowledge and racing craft that will be key to our success at this year’s Absa Cape Epic,” she said. “She’s also one of the top relegated women in cross-country, so I’m about to get a skills camp at Cape Epic.”

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