Hear the word “prologue” and you’re likely to think of a short, intense time trial effort lasting 15 minutes or so, as seen some years in the Tour de France.

At the eight-day Cape Epic mountain bike stage race, the “prologue” is a grueling effort that is 26km long and lasts over an hour.

The Cape Epic offers miles and miles of dirt, and even the prologue lasts over an hour. photo: Cris Bloomfield

The Cape Epic offers miles and miles of dirt, and even the prologue lasts over an hour. photo: Cris Bloomfield

An hour or so of offroad racing should normally suit cyclocross racers just fine, even if they retired a little over a year ago.

On Sunday, the two retired cyclocross legends of Sven Nys and Sven Vanthourenhout lined up in South Africa to kick off their Cape Epic campaign, which they’ve been preparing for with some time together on the road:

“We want to do more than just finish,” Vanthourenhout said prior to the race’s start, and the “Sven and Sven” team certainly had a respectable start to the stage race, finishing 41st out of 290 teams in the Men’s two-man category, just under 17 minutes down on the leaders of Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini.

Overall, Sven and Sven finished the prologue 58th of 658 teams (finishing behind a women’s team, a mixed team, 11 Masters teams, and a Grand Master team).

The top mixed team, finishing under a minute ahead of Sven and Sven, featured Jenny Rissveds and another cyclocross legend, Mr. Swiss Cross himself, Thomas Frischknecht. Another ten minutes faster than this team? A two-man team featuring Frischknecht’s son, Adri, in an impressive 1th place.

Ready to race. @capeepic @vermarcsport @trekbikes @ridebontrager @oakley

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Nys and Vanthourenhout are not the only two high-profile retired bike racers to team up to contest the event. Retired Mountain bike star-turned-roadie and Tour de France winner Cadel Evans paired with a former teammate in American George Hincapie to form the BMC Absa Racing team. The pair entered the Masters category, finishing the prologue as the third Masters team, almost eight minutes faster than the Sven duo.

Full 2017 Cape Epic Prologue results are here.

An Epic Pairing: Sven Nys and Vanthourenhout Team Up to Race Absa Cape Epic

Understand Dutch? Enjoy the interview below. “Tomorrow the racing really starts,” Nys said.