Ariane Luthi remains positive
Cape Epic cancelled due to Covid

Change your mindset and
stay positive

Swiss mountain biker Ariane Luthi was incredibly disappointed when she first heard the Cape Epic had been cancelled. But the move has helped her see the bigger picture and she now hopes to help raise awareness in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The 36-year-old, who would have partnered Alice Pirard for the Andermatt Spur team, said the positive side of the cancellation of the eight-day event, due to have started this week, was that it would hopefully help prevent the spread of the virus in South Africa, with its subsequent risk to people’s lives. “I can always keep myself busy. I’m going to invest more time into The Cyclists’ Alliance, a rider union for professional women cyclists. I wanted to do a lot more for them leading up to Epic. “I’m also planning to visit the Spur Foundation this week to maybe do something for the kids who live in underprivileged places and talk about hygiene there.” The five-time Epic winner said the moment on Friday evening when she heard news of the cancellation of the event, due to have started yesterday, was surreal.

Look at the bigger picture

“I couldn’t believe that it was cancelled. It was a huge decompression. The first 24 hours . . . I couldn’t sleep that night after it was cancelled. “We build up so much tension and we were in such focus for this race and had obviously prepared a lot. It’s crazy what goes on in your body – physiologically and mentally – building up towards such a big goal. “Very quickly we needed to snap out of our selfishness and have a look at the bigger picture. This race is just a bike race and it’s so much more about protecting people from the virus. Imagine this virus goes into the informal settlements, it would be a huge disaster. It’s much bigger than us.”

Luthi, who came third alongside Maja Wloszczowska in last year’s event, said she definitely supported the decision and felt it was the right thing to do. “As I read up about this pandemic, I realise more and more that we need to flatten the curve as much as possible to slow down the infection rate so that the healthcare system won’t collapse.”

“There is a huge danger that the coronavirus could infect more people here in SA and if this goes into townships where the hygienic circumstances aren’t as great as in our lives, it could be catastrophic. In those circumstances one has to show good leadership and calling it off was definitely right.” Luthi said personally she had been so focused on what she had to do this past week, she now felt a bit embarrassed. But on the other hand, it was her job.

“Those two weeks before the race I step into such a bubble and focus so much on the race that I maybe lose a bit of perspective for what is happening around me. Therefore I was not really fearing anything. I was just looking at the Swiss media and saw what was happening there with a lot of cancellations of sport events. Them being cancelled a week before Epic, I thought SA would not really be so much in danger but I was also not so knowledgeable enough to make a good judgement. Looking back, it should have been obvious to me in that week. I just didn’t want it to be true. I put up my hopes so much to still race,” said Luthi who recently partnered with Canyon Bicycles.

She added that she did not have any health issues and had a strong immune system, so she was not scared of being infected but more scared of infecting others.

“Carrying the virus to someone who may not have the immune system I have and possibly kill another person like that. I think we all need to look at life a bit differently and be a bit more cautious about the planet and our health in general.” Luthi said the Epic was her main goal of the season, with the second being the MTB Marathon European Championships and Swiss Marathon Championships in June.

“At the moment it’s an extraordinary situation and all our lives are put on hold with this health crises we’re in. We don’t know yet what other races will be happening.” All in all, she wanted to thank the Epic organisers for making the call and she understood it was difficult for them to do so.

“Thanks to everyone who tried to create such a nice race for us and I hope they have a lot of understanding from the riders and stay strong. I wish them all the best going forward and I can’t wait to come back to it in 2021.”