The Absa Cape Epic (South Africa) is reputed to be both the toughest and the most spectacular mountain bike stage race in the world. The annual event attracts an international field of 1200 riders (600 teams) but with a 10% attrition rate some 120 competitors succumb to the environment well before the finish line.The Cape Epic has put SA on the international cycling map with a bang.The Cape Epic was the first-ever team mountain bike stage race at which UCI points were awarded. Thus, the entrants include some of the best MTB Cross Country riders in the world like two time overall UCI World Cup winner, Olympic bronze medallist and World Cup champion Christoph Sauser, overall World Cup winner Bart Brentjens, the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World champion Ralph Naef and World Cup champion and Olympic silver medallist José Antonio Hermida.
The Cape Epic is open to amateur racers, but there is high entrance fee usually requiring teams to find some sort of sponsorship.
From day 1 the Epic was massive, well organised, an experience of a lifetime and addictive as the repeat riders will testify. For any cyclist it is a serious adventure and a challenge, but for the average cyclist it is an almost insurmountable challenge. Going into the race for the first time is an experience in itself, it truly is a voyage into the unknown. There is almost an endless stream of questions from supporters, spectators and participants alike.
For a short overview which doesn’t do it justice ,controversy starts with a fire on the slopes of Table Mountain, but in true Epic style the race must go on – even calling it The Dash through the Ashes! The 2009 Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas starts and finishes in Cape Town. A circular route including Gordon’s Bay the start venue for the 2009, steep ascent to Steenbras Dam under the N2 and into the Grabouw plantations towards Nuweberg to Villiersdorp. Off via Elandskloof to Worcester, the road hugs the foothills of the mountains for 12km, darting in and out of the vineyards past the Brandvlei Cellar before heading back towards Robertson. A trip through a private game farm will offer some distraction from the fatigue as kudu, eland, gemsbok, springbok and ostrich spectate the cycling spectators! Then to Greyton where they climb 750m in the first 13km and the altitude reading will go from 400m to 1000m in 5km, and the riders will feel as if they are expected to ride straight up a wall. To the top of Boskloof. And then riders make their way back to Lourensford.
Date: 21 March 2009?Start/Finish: Cape Town?Distance: 17km? Climbing: 650m?Cut-off time: 2.5 hours
Date: 22 March 2009?Start/Finish: Gordon’s Bay to Villiersdorp? Distance: 112km?Climbing: 2729m?Cut-off time: 17:00
Date: 23 March 2009?Start/Finish: Villiersdorp?Distance: 110km?Climbing: 1527m?Cut-off time: 17:00
Date: 24 March 2009?Start/Finish: Villiersdorp to Greyton?Distance: 73km?Climbing: 1976m?Cut-off time
Date: 25 March 2009?Start/Finish: Greyton?Distance: 114km?Climbing: 2202m?Cut-off time: 17:00
Date: 26 March 2009?Start/Finish: Greyton to Oak Valley?Distance: 111km?Climbing: 2233m?Cut-off time: 17:00
Date: 27 March 2009?Start/Finish: Oak Valley?Distance: 86km?Climbing: 1546m?Cut-off time: 16:00
Date: 28 March 2009?Start/Finish: Oak Valley to Lourensford?Distance: 60km?Climbing: 1760m?Cut-off time: 15:30 (Start at 08:30)
The Bulls finished the last 8 days of the Magical and Untamed Mountain Bike Race of 685km in an overall time of 28 hours, 10 minutes and 14 seconds. In second place was the Trek Brentjens team of Bart Brentjens and Chris Jongewaard in 28:15:08 – only 4 minutes and 54 seconds behind the leaders. In third place were Emil Lindgren and Andreas Kugler (Felt Factory 2) in a time of 28:28:43.??The South African team of Kevin Evans and David George (MTN Energade) finished in 4th place (28:41:00) overall and won the Leader Jersey of Best African Team. Songo.info’s Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander, who set the pace for this year’s race and won 5 of the 7 stages as well as the prologue, finished in 6th place overall (29:08:41).
By Braam du Toit – Physiotherapist