Cape Epic

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Absa Cape Epic
Absa Cape Epic Logo
Race details
Date March–April
Region Western Cape, South Africa
Discipline Mountain bike racing
Type Stage race
Organiser Grandstand Management
Race director Kati Csak
First edition 2004 (2004)
Editions 10
First winner
Most wins
Most recent
Riders during the 2009 Absa Cape Epic

The Cape Epic, under current sponsorship as the "Absa Cape Epic", is a two person team annual mountain bike stage race held in the Western Cape, South Africa. It has been accredited by the Union Cycliste Internationale. Teams have to race together for the entire distance of the race, looking after each other and their equipment. First staged in 2004, the race typically covers more than 700 kilometres (435 mi), and lasts eight days. The Absa Cape Epic attracts elite professional mountain bikers from around the world, who compete in teams of two. The race is also open to amateurs, who enter a lottery in order to gain a slot. The race is broken into day-long segments, called stages. Times to finish each stage are aggregated to determine the overall winning team per category at the end of the race. The course changes every year, but the race has always finished in the winelands of the Western Cape. Since 2007, the climax of the final stage has been at the Lourensford Wine Estate. The Absa Cape Epic was once described by Bart Brentjens, 1996 Olympic gold medallist in mountain biking, as the "Tour de France of mountain biking".


After completing the 2002 Ruta del Conquistadores in Costa Rica, founder Kevin Vermaak left London for Cape Town. There he planned an event similar to La Ruta, allowing riders to experience the scenic beauty of South Africa.


The route starts and finishes in the Western Cape, South Africa. It is redesigned every year. Race week lasts 8 days and typically covers around 700 kilometres (435 mi). The shortest Absa Cape Epic was in 2009 at 685 kilometres (425 mi), the longest in 2008 at 966 kilometres (600 mi). The route originally was a point-to-point race, beginning in Knysna and ending in the winelands of the Western Cape. This format changed in 2009, where riders spent multiple days in each stage location to ensure the route could fully explore the best mountain biking that the region had to offer. This format looks likely to be the way forward for the organisation.

Race concept[edit]

Two person team
All riders must enter as a two-person team. Teams register in one of five different categories that include Men, Ladies, Mixed, Masters and Grand Masters. Initially the team concept was developed because stage racing often takes riders through some very remote areas, and having partners who are bound by the race rules to look after each other serves a very valuable safety function. A two-person team race originated as an adventure – but this concept of ‘looking after each other’ still runs deep in the ethos and technique of stage racing. It’s gone from being a necessity to an integral part of race tactics. Even the pros have to be in perfect sync, taking care of one another. Riders in a team must remain within 2 minutes of each other at all times during the race or face a one-hour penalty. This is enforced by means of timing mats places through the stage. After a third offence, the team is disqualified. Teams are expected to reach the finish line by the specified maximum stage time, team dynamics therefore are a major part of the race.[1]

Categories and leader jerseys
All riders aim to win stages, but mostly they want to win in their category. There are five categories: Men, Ladies, Mixed, Masters and Grand Masters. The colours denoting the category leaders are: yellow – Men; rust – Ladies, green – Mixed (a woman and a man), blue – Masters (both riders must be 40 years or older on 31 December of the year of the race), purple – Grand Masters (both riders must be 50 years or older on 31 December of the year of the race). The category leaders competition is decided by totaling the time each team takes on the daily stages. The team with the lowest overall time at the end of each stage receives ceremonial leaders’ jerseys and the right to start the next stage of the race in those jerseys.[2]

Blue numbers boards
Any rider who does not complete a stage within the maximum stage time for the first time will be classified as a blue board rider. Blue board riders will be entitled to continue the race (they may start the following stage), but will not be classified as official race finishers. Should any blue board rider fail for the second time to finish a stage within the maximum stage time or fail to start a stage, he or she will not be allowed to continue the race.

Outcast jersey
UCI licensed riders who lose their partners will be allowed to continue riding but without influencing the outcome of the race. They are required to ride in an Outcast Jersey. Riders in this jersey may not ride within the first 30 teams or interfere with the race or other categories such as the mixed or ladies teams. Any rider or team accepting mechanical or any other assistance from the outcast rider will be penalised. This will give the rider the opportunity to finish the race, be it unofficially, but still be part of the experience.

Internal technical and tactical support
It is allowed - any rider, including riders from the same sponsor (but not in the same 2-rider team) can provide technical assistance and equipment from his own bicycle to support another rider. Teams can also form alliances with other riders and teams, even if they are not of the same sponsor.

Pro-Am aspect of the race
Amateurs use the same chute, ride the same course and stay in the same race village as the UCI registered riders, which include world and national champions and Olympic medalists.

This is a loyalty programme to recognise riders that return each year to ride the Absa Cape Epic. "Amabubesi" means "pack of lions" in Zulu. In addition to a special certificate to honour their achievement, members receive a set of benefits. Three finishes secures entry into the club, but as the race has matured, additional benefits have been reserved for riders that have completed a greater number of races.[3] Special Amabubesi merchandise range is available only for members.


Timeline from 2002[edit]

Date Description
2002 Kevin Vermaak participated in the 10th La Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica and was inspired to start something similar in the Cape.
2003 The Cape Epic name and logo are finalised in London + Munich: The knobbly tyres of the cyclist show that it is an off-road mountain bike race. The zebra stripes represented Untamed Africa. The colours of the South Africa flag denote that it will be a truly South African race.
2003 The first marketing opportunity for the Cape Epic was a roaring success. The promotional stand at the Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour Expo in Cape Town attracted more than 1000 inquiries.
2003 More than eighty VIP's, sports journalists and guests attend the official launch party of the Cape Epic at the Cullinan Hotel, Cape Town.
2003 South African regional entries for the inaugural race sell out in three days.
2003 The first crew workshop was held, along with distribution of the first official Cape Epic merchandise to 27 attendees - 17 of whom have worked at every single race since 2004. It was also the only time that black caps were produced for Cape Epic merchandise, and the few proud owners of these first pieces of official merchandise refer to this workshop as the ‘black-cap workshop’.
2004 2004 Inaugural Cape Epic: 28 February to 6 March. 788 km & 17 380m climbing, from Knysna to Spier. 550 riders, 21% international and 20 countries represented. Winners: Karl Platt & Mannie Heymans.
2004 The 350 South African regional team entries for Cape Epic 2005 sell out in less than five hours.
2004 The international block of entries sells out for the first time.
2004 To accommodate the growing full-time staff of the Cape Epic, occupation of the new offices at 155 Loop Street in Cape Town were taken. The event is still managed from there today, but the staff of 2 in 2004 has grown to 20 full-time staff that work exclusively for the race throughout the year.
2005 2005 Cape Epic: 2 April to 9 April. 898 km & 16 020m climbing, from Knysna to Spier. 840 riders, 25% international and 29 countries represented. Winners: Roel Paulissen & Bart Brentjens.
2005 The Vigne à Vigne was launched. A mountain bike race held at the Grand Finale venue the morning of the Cape Epic finish, it is designed to allow riders to finish in time to see the winning Cape Epic riders cross the finish line.
2005 Through the Big Tree Foundation, the Cape Epic gives back by providing tangible benefits to the learners in the towns that host the race. The Foundation provides bicycles, desks, writing materials and uniforms to the most needy learners in these communities.
2005 The Cape Epic is awarded UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) status, the first ever team mountain bike stage race, and at the time the only mountain bike race in Africa to appear on the UCI calendar.
2005 The Cape Epic surpasses 2500 hours of global TV hours to become the most televised mountain bike race of all time.
2006 Absa, Africa's leading bank, announces title sponsorship – it's the Absa Cape Epic presented by Adidas.
2006 2006 Absa Cape Epic: 22 April to 29 April. 940 km & 16 605m climbing, from Knysna to Spier. 1040 riders, 31% international and 35 countries represented. Winners: Christoph Sauser & Silvio Bundi.
2006 Introduction of Amabubesi club – the Cape Epic finishers club. "Amabubesi" means "pride of lions" in Zulu, an excellent description for mountain bikers that return year after year to ride. Riders that have finished the event three times will be awarded membership of Amabubesi.
2006 Lourensford is announced as the new finish venue after three successful finishes at Spier Wine Estate.
2007 2007 Absa Cape Epic: 24 March to 31 March. 886 km & 15 045m climbing, from Knysna to Lourensford. 1200 riders, 29% international and 45 countries represented. Winners: Karl Platt & Stefan Sahm.
2007 A daily 24 minute TV highlights package is distributed globally – a world first for any mountain bike stage race.
2007 Personalised nutrition services introduced. Riders provide three Absa Cape Epic personalised water bottles each night with their own personal nutrition/recovery drink already mixed in it. The importance and appeal of chilled nutrition and recovery drinks on a 40 degree day ensures that this service sells out each year.
2007 Absa African Jersey for highest-placed all African team introduced.
2007 2008 route is announced, with a prologue to kick off proceedings in Knysna.
2008 2008 Absa Cape Epic: 28 March to 5 April. 966 km & 18 529m climbing, from Knysna to Lourensford. 1200 riders, 29% international and 41 countries represented. Winners: Roel Paulissen & Jakob Fuglsang.
2008 Team Absa, featuring South African celebrities and sports figures, riding for charity, launched.
2008 New route concept announced – multiple days in one stage location. Prologue to take place beneath Table Mountain.
2009 2009 Absa Cape Epic: 21 March to 28 March. 744 km & 15 132m climbing, from Cape Town to Lourensford. 1200 riders, 32% international and 46 countries represented. Winners: Karl Platt & Stefan Sahm.
2010 2010 Absa Cape Epic: 21 March to 28 March. 661 km & 14 126m climbing, from Dimersfontein to Lourensford. 1200 riders, 38% international and 51 countries represented. Winners: Karl Platt & Stefan Sahm.
2010 Freedom Ride on Robben Island, where a select group of riders had the opportunity to ride their bikes on Robben Island, including a tour and visit to Nelson Mandela's cell.
2010 Introduction of OUTCAST jersey. This jersey is given to any UCI pro-elite category rider whose partner is no longer participating in the race for any reason, allowing them to continue riding, so long as they do not provide physical assistance to any other UCI pro-elite rider or podium contender.
2010 Introduction of Men's floating trophy. If a team wins it 5 times, they will keep it.
2011 2011 Absa Cape Epic: 27 March to 3 April. 708 km & 14 550m climbing, from Tokai to Lourensford. 1200 riders, 40% international and 49 countries represented. Winners: Christoph Sauser & Burry Stander.
2011 Nine current and former world champions ride the 2011 Absa Cape Epic.
2011 The Ladies race is awarded UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) HC (Hors Categorie) status, allowing Ladies to earn UCI points during the race.
2011 To coincide with Craft’s introduction as the official cycling apparel of the Absa Cape Epic, a new logo was introduced along with a complete brand refresh. The new corporate identity was launched along with 2012 route.
2011 Grand Masters category, in which both riders must be 50 years or older, is announced for 2013.
2012 2012 Absa Cape Epic: 25 March to 1 April. 775 km & 16 300m climbing, from Meerendal to Lourensford. 1200 riders, 34% international and 49 countries represented. Winners: Christoph Sauser & Burry Stander.
2012 The first Exxaro Academy riders compete for the Exxaro Development Jersey. Exxaro established the academy to introduce mountain biking into historically disadvantaged communities, as a catalyst for change in South Africa.
2012 Introduction of Ladies' floating trophy. If a team wins it 5 times, they will keep it.
2012 Announcement that a rider caught doping at any time during the course of his/her career will be issued a lifetime ban from the race.[4]
2013 Announcement of R1 million prize purse.[5]
2013 2013 Absa Cape Epic: 17 to 24 March. 698 km & 15 900m climbing, from Meerendal to Lourensford. 13 World Champions riding, as well as Gold, Silver and Bronze from the 2012 London Olympics. Winners: Christoph Sauser & Jaroslav Kulhavy.
2013 First black South African woman finishes the Absa Cape Epic.[6]

Winners from 2004[edit]

Date Category Team Rider 1 Rider 2
2004 Men Focus/Rocky Mountain Mannie Heymans Karl Platt
2004 Ladies Yellow Jacket Hanlie Booyens Sharon Laws
2004 Mixed HAI-Bike / Scott Kirsten Rösel Robert Eder
2004 Masters Bowmans - Giant Frank Soll Duncan English
2005 Men Giant Roel Paulissen Bart Brentjens
2005 Ladies Fiat/Bianchi/Adidas Zoe Frost Hannele Steyn-Kotze
2005 Mixed Team Microsoft Nic White Anke Erlank
2005 Masters Getaway/Mongoos Friedrich Coleske Doug Brown
2006 Men Specialized Christoph Sauser Silvio Bundi
2006 Ladies adidas-Fiat-Rotwild Sabine Grona Kerstin Brachtendorf
2006 Mixed Dolores Maechler Severin Rupp
2006 Masters ABSA BUSINESS BANKING SERVICES I Linus van Onselen Geddan Ruddock
2007 Men Team Bulls Karl Platt Stefan Sahm
2007 Ladies DURAVIT Anke Erlank Yolandè De Villiers
2007 Mixed IMC/Mongoose Yolande Speedy Paul Cordes
2007 Masters Cycle lab Andrew Mclean Damian Booth
2008 Men Cannondale Vredestein Roel Paulissen Jakob Fuglsang
2008 Ladies Rocky Mountain Pia Sundstedt Alison Sydor
2008 Mixed Joybike guided by VMT and Maloja Ivonne Kraft Nico Pfitzenmaier
2008 Masters ABSA Masters Doug Brown Barti Bucher
2009 Men Bulls Karl Platt Stefan Sahm
2009 Ladies Absa Ladies Sharon Laws Hanlie Booyens
2009 Mixed adidas Big Tree Nico Pfitzenmaier Alison Sydor
2009 Masters Absa Masters Doug Brown Bärti Bucher
2010 Men Bulls 1 Karl Platt Stefan Sahm
2010 Ladies Rothaus-CUBE Kristine Noergaard Anna-sofie Noergaard
2010 Mixed MTN Business Quebeka Yolande Speedy Paul Cordes
2010 Masters Cyclelab Toyta Shan Wilson Andrew Mclean
2011 Men 36ONE-SONGO-SPECIALIZED Christoph Sauser Burry Stander
2011 Ladies USN Sally Bigham Karien van Jaarsveld
2011 Mixed Wheeler BiXS Barti Bucher Esther Süss
2011 Masters Juwi Carsten Bresser Udo Boelts
2012 Men 36ONE-SONGO-SPECIALIZED Christoph Sauser Burry Stander
2012 Ladies Wheels4Life Sally Bigham Esther Süss
2012 Mixed Contego 28E Erik Kleinhans Ariane Kleinhans
2012 Masters World Bicycle Relief Bart Brentjens Jan Weevers
2013 Men Burry Stander - SONGO Christoph Sauser Jaroslav Kulhavy
2013 Ladies Energas Yolande Speedy Catherine Williamson
2013 Mixed RE:CM Erik Kleinhans Ariane Kleinhans
2013 Masters Bridge Nico Pfitzenmaier Abraao Azevedo
2013 Grand Masters Bärti Bucher Heinz Zoerweg

Stage types[edit]


Marking the opening day of the race, this is a two-man team time trial, where teams usually leave at timed intervals. Riders use the prologue as an opportunity to be seeded in a faster group, ensuring a good position for the mass start the following day. The first ever prologue of the Absa Cape Epic was in Knysna in 2008. A sloping start ramp launches the team into motion after a countdown.

Mass and staggered start[edit]

In most stages of the race, teams start together, either in a mass start or in staggered, seeded group starts. As they roll out of the respective start towns, the teams are led by a vehicle, without racing. Once out of the neutral zone is the real start, setting riders on their way. The second member of the first team across the line wins. Riders in a group finish in the same time as the lead rider. Time bonuses for intermediate sprints have been offered in the past. Stage lengths usually vary between 60 km and 145 km. Long stages cause major shifts in the general classification and large time differences between teams. A maximum ride time is allotted for each day and teams must complete the stage within that time. If they arrive after their start group’s maximum allotted time they will be listed as unofficial finishers.

Time trial[edit]

Some years, an individual time trial appears midway through raceweek, this is a two-man team time trial, where teams usually leave at timed intervals. Like the prologue, it’s an all out effort. The distance varies but typically is around 30 km, which is regarded by the main field, who are not contending for overall victory, as an ‘easy’ day.

A brief history of the racing to date[edit]

In its inaugural year, the Absa Cape Epic attracted one of the biggest names in the sport. 2004 saw stage-racing supremo Karl Platt team up with Namibian Mannie Heymans, one of the world’s top marathoners at the time. The week’s racing was white hot, with impressive performances from Team GT Africa and the motivated Kenyans David Kinjah and Davidson Kamau. However Platt and Heymans controlled the race throughout, winning six out of the eight stages, with a 20-minute lead overall.

In 2005 the field got more than they bargained for with former world champion, Olympic gold medalist and mountain biking legend Bart Brentjens arriving at the start with equally fast Roel Paulissen as his partner. The Dutch / Belgian team dominated the race, even more so than Platt and Heymans had the year before.

Fortunately for all, Brentjens had proved his point, not returning for the 2006 edition, leaving the Swiss team of Christoph Sauser and Silvio Bundi to race the legs off the field. Previous winner Platt only managed 3rd, partnered with Carsten Bresser. This was to be the Absa Cape Epic’s most convincing win yet, with Sauser and Bundi’s 29min 08sec lead over Johannes Sickmuller and Christian Heule.

It was as if Karl Platt had been plotting his revenge after two humiliating defeats – he’d formed a new team with Stefan Sahm – the Bulls. They won stage 1 in a close sprint finish against Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang of Cannondale Vredestein. This set the tone for the week – a dramatic ding-dong battle with the leader jerseys changing shoulders four times. Platt and Sahm had the final word, wearing their yellow leaders’ jerseys on the final stage into Lourensford Wine Estate.

Roel Paulissen and Jakob Fuglsang were back, baying for the Bulls’ blood. After a dominant performance on stage 2, and with the Bulls imploding that same day heading into Calitzdorp, Cannondale Vredestein had a comfortable lead over the Germans. Only once was their lead under threat with some tyre trouble outside Bredasdorp. The Belgian/Danish team had made their case winning the 2008 event convincingly.

New rivals came to the fore in 2009 – Team of South African Burry Stander and Swiss Christoph Sauser. The pair won the prologue and the first 3 stages, till Stander’s momentary lapse of concentration put an end to their overall hopes with a smashed front wheel. The Bulls capitalized and held their leader’s jerseys till the end, but not without a challenge from old rival Bart Brentjens, partnered with Australian Chris Jongewaard. Their campaign was not without incident, breaking a chain on the penultimate stage into Oak Valley. True to form, it was repaired quickly and they limited their losses.

Even as outright race favourites, the Bulls still had to prove themselves, after what many said was a lucky win in 2009. Their strength and tactical aptitude was tested to the limit as Team MTN Qhubeka’s Kevin Evans and Alban Lakata powered to victory on stage 1, taking the race lead. Illness put Stander out of action early in the race but made good with 3 stage victories while MTN Qhubeka’s tyre woes lost them South Africa’s chance at an overall win at the Absa Cape Epic. Arriving at Lourensford, the Bulls had prevailed – it was Platt’s forth victory, Sahm’s third. By 2011, teams were left wondering how to break this phenomenal run of success.

Burry Stander made history on 3 April 2011, as the first South African ever to win the Absa Cape Epic in its 8th edition. Stander and his Swiss teammate, former world champion and Olympic medallist Christoph Sauser won 5 of the 7 days. Stander and Sauser finished in an overall time of 28:44.44,0. In second place in an overall time of 28:51.52,8 were the German team of Hannes Genze and Jochen Käss (Multivan Mérida Biking), with the Bulls, Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, in third place overall in 29:05.53,7. The Bulls Team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm won the Absa Cape Epic in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and Karl Platt won in the inaugural year (2004) with Mannie Heymans from Namibia. He is the most successful participant in the history of the race having won four times with eleven stage wins.[7]

The 36ONE-Songo-Specialized team of Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser walked away with top honours as overall winners of the 2012 Absa Cape Epic, following their victory of 2011. With a 25 minute and 57 second lead time at the start of the final stage, Stander and Sauser finished in an overall time of 31:46.50,5. In second place in an overall time of 32:14.12,6 were the South African duo of Kevin Evans and David George (360Life), with the German-Swiss team of Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler of Multivan Mérida Biking in third place overall in 32:17.57,5. The Bulls 2 team of Thomas Dietsch and Tim Boehme finished fourth overall (32:18.48,2) with Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen (Topeak Ergo Racing) in fifth (32:19.22,7). The Bulls 1 team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, who won the Absa Cape Epic in 2007, 2009 and 2010, finished in sixth place overall (33:03.00,2).[8]

Team Burry Stander-Songo, Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy, won the 2013 Absa Cape Epic by 7:10. With this fourth win, Christoph Sauser tied Karl Platt (de) for the most Absa Cape Epic victories. In second place in an overall time of 29:47.55,3 were Team Bulls' Karl Platt and new partner Urs Huber, followed by teammates Thomas Dietsch (fr) and Tim Boehme with a time of 30:07.35,9.[9]


The holding company of the Absa Cape Epic brand is named Grandstand Management and this events team is responsible for all that is required for a full service mountain bike stage race. They coordinate route design and permission requests, rider registration, race rules, emergency and medical services, marshals, timing and results, optional extras available to riders as well as crew and volunteer management. On the logistics side there is the planning and implementation of infrastructure such as tents, marquees, security, ablution facilities and catering, to name a few. In addition to the aspects of the race mentioned, the events team manage the relationships with the various stage locations, venues, towns and municipalities that the race visits each year to ensure that the event meets with their expectations and assists them to maximise their opportunities.


Each stage, riders arrive at the finish to see a full-service race village. The forward planning begins up to 18 months before the race. Where to build the race village involves complex planning for space, water, electricity access and other amenities. The logistics involves the movement of the entire race village from town to town. 1 200 fully supported riders started the event, each having to eat and sleep within the location. Ablution facilities and medical facilities need to be provided. The bikes require attention too, with daily washes and services. The crew also stay in the race village: the workers, supervisors, timekeepers, TV crew, administrators, photographers, media and also need to be provided for. Setting up infrastructure in new towns creates multiple variables, and therefore experts in troubleshooting are required.

The Mediclinic race hospital unit consists of an expert team, including Emergency Care Practitioner (ECP) marshals on the course. The team is headed up by chief medical officer Dr Basil Bonner, who has assisted at the Absa Cape Epic since the first race in 2004. Dr Bonner is a Specialist Emergency Medicine Physician and Head of the Emergency Centre at Milnerton Medi-Clinic. He is also Senior Medical Officer for the Medi-Clinic Special Events Division. The private hospital unit is capable of handling any medical emergency in their tent. A UCI anti-doping official and an anti-doping caravan also accompany the medical team.

Route marshals
A team of thirty trained marshals travel throughout the event. They are there not only to show riders the way but to ensure the safety of cyclists. The marshals are divided into four teams, which get deployed throughout the day and leapfrog one another throughout the race to make sure all participants are supported at every stage. The marshals are trained in first-aid, with a number having more advanced medical training. Four of the marshals are provincial or municipal traffic officers. These officers support the Absa Cape Epic in their private capacity and take leave from their formal employment in order to do so.

Riders and crew are rewarded with a hot shower at the end of each day’s racing thanks to the shower trailers operated and maintained by Hansgrohe and Afripex. Shower trailers are available throughout the race, with the units being towed between the various stages to await the riders.

Chill zone
The Chill Zone is the social hub of the Absa Cape Epic, and the place riders and crew can relax and stock up on liquid carbohydrates after a long day on the course. It also offers soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, assorted smoothies and snacks, such as chips, biltong and chocolates. "Dan’s Happy Hour" is where Absa Cape Epic MC and media personality Dan Nicholl holds court. Dan’s special brand of humour accompanies his "spot prizes" for riders and those in attendance.

The waterpoints are staggered throughout the route, and situated where riders will be most in need of a refuel. Most waterpoints are also spectator points for the public to view the race. Volunteers form the majority of staff at the waterpoints, however all waterpoints are managed by a professional team. Food is available at all waterpoints with a selection of fruits and snacks are on offer, along with a variety of flavours of sports drinks are also available. A free chain lubricating service provided by Motorex is situated at all waterpoints as is a medical station. There is a separation time check at most waterpoints to ensure team members remain within two minutes of each other.

Pro tech zones
A Pro Tech Zone exists at all waterpoints. These areas are for the use of UCI-registered riders only. The organisers will transport 1 wheel set and one tool bag per 2-rider team to each of the water points for every stage. The content of the tool bag is at the team’s discretion and may consist of anything riders wish to use – tools, spares, tyre sealant, food, waterbottles, sunscreen. No technical or mechanical assistance is provided and teams may only access their own boxes and wheelsets. It will be up to the rider to use this equipment to provide his own tech support. No outside human help (from a rider not also racing) will be allowed.

Tech zones
A tech zone is provided for amateurs, with a mechanic present to aid amateurs with their repairs. ‘Neutral’ bike parts such as tyres, tubes and CO2 bombs are also available for purchase. A bike toolkit as well as basic supplies such as tyres, tubes and CO2 bombs is available at the Supply Zones at Waterpoints. The Supply Zone allows amateur teams who have mechanical problems to repair their bikes and get to the finish. No technical or mechanical assistance is provided here.

Environmental management plan
The Absa Cape Epic considers itself a ‘green event’. The Nature Conservation Corporation, an environmental consultancy, is contracted to ensure the race minimises its environmental impact in a number of critical areas. All bike washing liquids, degreasers and lubricants offered by the Absa Cape Epic’s service partners and sponsors are bio-degardable. The Nature Conservation Corporation assesses the overall environmental impact of the race, including the race villages and the race route itself. On the race route the NCC conducts a full environment sweep and erosion check after cyclists have passed through an area. In the race village the Nature Conservation Corporation focuses on issues such as recycling the shower and bike wash water, minimising waste and implementing waste removal systems. The intention is to leave the pristine environments the Absa Cape Epic traverses in the same condition in which they were found.

Cape Nature Conservation
The Cape Epic has worked tirelessly to ensure riders are able to traverse spectacular tracts of Cape Nature Conservation land. During several stages, riders pass through areas of the Cape Floral Kingdom under Cape Nature Conservation stewardship. These unspoilt areas feature incredible bio-diversity. On some paths, leopard camera traps have been set up by the Cape Leopard Trust. These unmanned camera traps detect movement and snap photos of the elusive leopard in its natural habitat.

Prize money[edit]

Prize money varies by year, and is awarded to the both the Men and Ladies UCI licensed riders.[10]

Floating trophy awarded to overall winners[edit]

The overall winners of the Absa Cape Epic are awarded a floating trophy designed by local artist Neil Jonker, and receive a replica trophy for each rider to keep. If the same team wins the race three times, they get to keep it.

In the media[edit]

The Absa Cape Epic is the most televised mountain bike race in the world.[citation needed] It is broadcast to 175 countries, including UK, USA, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Czech Republic, Japan, Brazil, Egypt and Rwanda.[citation needed] Viewers tune in to watch news clips, highlights packages and an hour-long program worldwide. Photographs and articles about the event have appeared in the New York Times[11] the LA Times, Sports Illustrated, as well as dozens of international and local bicycle magazines and websites.[citation needed]

Official charities[edit]

Since the first Absa Cape Epic in 2004, the organisation has had a formal programme of giving back to the communities that host the race. Initially the project involved handing bikes to key people in the villages and towns. Today, these programmes have evolved into Big Tree Foundation, a Section 21 company, which works to uplift the communities that host the race through educational projects. Big Tree Foundation’s belief is that poverty can be alleviated through education. The programs face challenges in many of the smaller communities, supplying basic stuff, like books, clothes, even desks and chairs. Big Tree Foundation now has the full support of the government. The Department of Education had adopted a development model built on the success of the Sibabalwe pre-school in De Doorns. Big Tree Foundation is poised to take this model and to expand it into the Western Cape and hopefully, the entire country. The Sibabalwe pre-school in De Doorns now accommodates 90 children per year. Workshops on bike repair and coaching help improve the local economies, giving rise to sales and workshops. Another of Big Tree Foundation’s plans is to subsidise bikes for school kids who walk 3 to 9 km to school per day – reducing travel time by two thirds.

The JAG Foundation is the other official charity of the Absa Cape Epic. The JAG Foundation enlists local celebrities to ride the race to raise funds in the All Stars Challenge. South African rugby players Robbie Kempson, Breyton Paulse and footballer Mark Fish have all taken part.

Exxaro Academy[edit]

Exxaro is the Development Academy Partner to the Absa Cape Epic and sponsor of the Exxaro Academy. The goal of the Exxaro Academy is to introduce the mountain biking experience to historically disadvantaged communities and individuals, and ultimately assist to transform the sport in South Africa.[12] Additionally, Exxaro Academy riders and all other Historically Disadvantaged South African riders under the age of 26 are eligible to be awarded the Exxaro Special Jersey during the Absa Cape Epic.


Two teams have won more than one Absa Cape Epic – Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm of Team Bulls, and Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander of 36One-Songo-Specialized. The German Platt is one of 9 riders who have competed in all nine events, winning four times. He is one of two foreigners to do so, along with Dirk Rossignol, an amateur from Belgium. Only one woman is on that exclusive list, Hannele Steyn of South Africa.

Karl Platt, Mannie Heymans, Bart Brentjens, Roel Paulissen and Stefan Sahm all won the Absa Cape Epic the first time they rode the race. The Absa Cape Epic has been won four times by teams who led the general classification from the first stage and holding the lead all the way to the finish. Karl Platt and Mannie Heymans did it during the first edition, 2004. Bart Brentjens and Roel Paulissen repeated the feat the next year and Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander in both 2011 and 2012.

Only one women’s team has ever won the Absa Cape Epic twice – the partnership of Sharon Laws (GBR), Hanlie Booyens (RSA).


  1. ^ "Absa Cape Epic Race Rules" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  2. ^ "About the Race". Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  3. ^ "Absa Cape Epic | The Untamed African MTB Race". Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  4. ^ "Cape Epic imposes lifetime bans for doping". Cycling News (Future Publishing Limited). 18 December 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "R1 Million Prize Purse in 2013". Absa Cape Epic. 
  6. ^ "2013 Absa Cape Epic Results". Absa Cape Epic. 
  7. ^ Sauser and Stander Take Title.
  8. ^ Stander and Sauser Win in 2012,
  9. ^ "Absa Cape Epic | The Untamed African MTB Race". Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  10. ^ Absa Cape Epic Prize Money.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Exxaro Academy". 

External links[edit]