Wednesday, 17 August
18 Mar
Sport24 asked: Why do you say “the journey to this win was challenging?”
Marc Pritzen: I think because if you look at the history of the Cape Town Cycle Tour a lot of people will tell you that the stars really have to align to win the race. The Cape Town Cycle Tour is probably the most difficult race to win in South Africa which is why it’s also the biggest road race in the country. It’s also such an important race of the year not just on a personal level but in terms of sponsors gaining exposure. Historically, it’s normally a sprinter who has won the race – the likes of Malcolm Lange, Travis Barrett and Nolan Hoffman who has won it for so many years. I’m not sure why the Cape Town Cycle Tour has always ended up in a sprint. There are some really hard climbs out there – the likes of Chapman’s Peak, Suikerbossie and Smitswinkel. Those are not easy climbs and the race is a challenging one but so awesome to win. For an all-round rider like myself to win it, the weather conditions have to be really miserable. In those conditions, many riders are a lot more cautious and leave bigger gaps. I had to capitalize on that and a lot of things had to go right for me on the day to win this one and luckily it did. In terms of being defending champion in 2023, I won’t be putting extra pressure on myself next year. I take it day by day because racing is so unpredictable.
Sport24 asked: Are you in favour of equal prize money for the sexes?
Marc Pritzen: Even though the men’s race is 109km as opposed to the women’s which is 78km, the women race hard as well. They generally race in a smaller bunch but this year, the ladies’ bunch was really big with over 100 riders. Maybe the answer for women’s cycling is to get a bit bigger in South Africa and build more motivation to come race. I had a look at the women’s event and Kim Le Court rode a really smart race. She also left it all out there and being defending champion it’s yours to lose. Going into a race as the reigning champion is really difficult and Kim handled it perfectly. In terms of winnings, I absolutely think it’s necessary they keep the prize equal. (The men’s and women’s winner of the Cape Town Cycle Tour each earned R45 000, with prize money totalling R200, 000). The only way we are going to make the sport grow is by increasing the exposure and having more live feeds. In that way we will have more sponsors come on board because they will get more exposure out of it. As soon as more sponsors get involved, the prize money will increase and winning the event can become even more important. Unfortunately, cycling doesn’t get much exposure in South Africa and for more sponsors to come on board they require bang for their buck and some recognition out of it.
Sport24 asked: What physical toll has your body taken from cycling?
Marc Pritzen: I may be 22 years young but I feel a lot older than I am, especially after all these years of crashes. The body has taken a little bit of a knock. I’ve suffered many injuries and undergone plenty of surgeries. I’ve broken my right collarbone twice and still have a plate inserted which needs to come out some or other time. I’ve also ruptured my kidneys which is not fun. In 2020, I had a really big crash which was one that really scared me. I fell straight onto my face and the lower part of my lip was off my jaw and they had to stitch it back on. I have also broken my nose. The body goes through quite a knock but in saying that we do this sport for days like last Sunday. So many things can go wrong and you can have plenty of crashes but you have to remind yourself every now and then why you do the sport. When you win big races, it makes a lot of things worth it again and gives you the motivation to climb back on your bike and keep on going. However, there are absolutely days when you’ve crashed and still riding with blood everywhere and you are not sure why. We are all human so you have those days when you question if you want to do this anymore and I’m no different. It’s important to have a solid support structure which I think has helped me stay on track.
Sport24 asked: Your reaction to the bikes stolen from the Mauritian riders?
Marc Pritzen: That’s very unfortunate and it’s scary. (12 bikes – valued around R1-million in total –were stolen from a guest farm in Paarl, including Le Court’s bike). I don’t what exactly happened there and if it was neglect on the riders’ side with doors unlocked or something like that. However, at the end of the day it’s never pleasant to lose your possessions. It really sucks to experience things like that and is frustrating in a lot of ways hearing of bikes getting stolen because it’s so unnecessary. I also race with S-Works bikes and unfortunately cycling is not a very cheap sport. But it’s more than just the money behind it – it’s the principle of what’s yours should stay yours and you should leave other people’s possessions alone. I fortunately haven’t had any of my bikes stolen but have been a victim of hijacking and of house-breaking which happened so suddenly. The latter incident took place when I was at home and five guys came into the house with guns which was a scary situation.
Sport24 asked: Your take on Tour de France doping in the Armstrong era?
Marc Pritzen: I think there were so many things that happened there which we don’t even know about. To be honest, I didn’t follow too much of Lance Armstrong’s career and didn’t both delving too deep into what the Tour de France cyclists at the time got up to. But in terms of ensuring drug-free sport, we all get tested and most of us are on ADAMS (which is “designed to be a secure and cost-free web-based system that centralizes doping control-related information”). The anti-doping officers can come test you on a daily basis and arrive at your house to get a sample. Doping in cycling is a difficult question to answer and I feel like if riders were to cheat, it would be on them. If they get caught for doping then that’s great but if they don’t, at the end of the day, they have to live with it.
Sport24 asked: Where does your national allegiance lie going forward?
Marc Pritzen: I don’t know if I’ll represent Namibia in the future. I really enjoy racing under the South African flag. I have been South Africa champion and take massive pride in that achievement. To bear able to wear the bands on my sleeve still makes me proud. I’m not sure what the future holds regarding my national allegiance but at the moment I’m happy where I’m at. I see that triathlete Richard Murray has switched to the Dutch national team. There is maybe more to it (the defection) than we know. It’s the athlete’s decision and if they want to change national allegiance and feel that it’s the right decision then who are we to judge. In terms of competing in Triathlon, it’s definitely something I would consider – with a running background – but at a later stage of my career. Triathletes are generally a bit older than cyclists, with youngsters thriving in the latter sport.
Sport24 asked: In terms of competition, what’s next in store for you?
Marc Pritzen: For now I want to focus on mountain biking with the Absa Cape Epic starting this Sunday. I’m racing with my teammate Christiaan Janse van Rensburg, who also rides for Honeycomb. I think it’s very important to be versatile in this sport. If you look at the front group that went to the line last Sunday the only rider who wasn’t a mountain biker is Byron Munting. The rest of us all have mountain biking backgrounds. When it comes to the Cape Epic, the preparation is completely different as is the bike. The surface you train on goes from black to brown. This will be my first Epic so I’m not sure how the race will unfold but I know it’s going to be brutal. I have raced 10-day tours before and am prepared in that sense but this is mountain biking not rode cycling. You have a little bit of rest downhill on a road bike but that’s not the case on a mountain bike, which is very physical.

Previous interviews:
Vlok Cilliers
Dion O’Cuinneagain
Scott Spedding
Nic Groom
Dane van Niekerk
Dave Nosworthy
Swys de Bruin
Brett Schultz
Percy Montgomery
Alan Solomons
Josh Strauss
Mouritz Botha
David Denton
08 Jul
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