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Most Epic of Cycle Races

The ABSA Cape Epic is the only race of its kind – an eight-day mountain biking event of, well, epic proportions. The most televised MTB race in the world, the Cape Epic’s route changes each year. In March 2018, it’s the Western Cape in South Africa that will play a picturesque, yet challenging, host to local and international mountain bikers of both amateur, as well as pro skill levels.



The Cape Epic held its inaugural race in 2004, with a route from Knysna to Stellenbosch. Some of the biggest names in cycling turned out for the event, including Karl Platt who, along with his teammate Mannie Heymans, went on to win six of the eight legs. The event grew in popularity on the global cycling stage, piquing international interest from the likes of MTB legends, like Bert Brentjens. Burry Stander became part of history in 2011, as the first South African to win the ABSA Cape Epic, finishing a nail-biting seven minutes ahead. In 2015, Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser sealed his legendary contribution to the professional world of cycling by making it his fifth overall Cape Epic win and becoming the first person to do so. This feat has only been matched by one other – Karl Platt, who got his fifth win the next year.



The 2018 Route

With a new route laid out each year, participants in the ABSA Cape Epic are only ever sure of one thing – that they will be tested to the core of their MTB hearts. 2018’s route delivers in every aspect, with the Epic winding through the Western Cape. A fitting start on the slopes of Table Mountain will then lead riders through a 20km Prologue, followed by stages of over 100km each. You don’t get a reputation for being the toughest of cycling races by going easy on riders, and this year the Epic is really showing off. It’s not the shortest or the steepest of Cape Epics, but don’t let that fool you. The terrain for half the route is nothing but rocks, thorns, grit, and a true test of not only a mountain biker’s determination and focus, but also of their cycle gear and equipment.


The distance reaches 20km, through Dead Man’s Tree and technical terrain, with 600m of climbing.

Stage 1

110km takes bikers past the ominously named Skid and Bones, and involves climbs totaling 1900m.

Stage 2

Another 110km stretch through Balboa, One-Two- Three, and Bosvark. Climbing totals 2000m in for this stage.

Stage 3

From Pieter’s Express through Porcupine Trap, Penn Hill and Choose Your Own Adventure, 122km and 1800m of climbing is a throwback to the long-distance days of early Epic events.

Stage 4

A little shorter than its predecessor, but with a higher difficulty rating, Stage 4 clocks in at 111km, and totals 1800m of climbing, going past Thudbuster and Bainskloof.

Stage 5

For 39km, bikers will push through Seven Peaks and the technical terrain up to Cool Runnings. Climbs total 1430m for this stage.

Stage 6

With names like Green Mamba, Cheese Grater, and True Grit, you should get an idea of what to expect in the 76km and 2000m of climbing.

Stage 7

Topping off at 70km, riders will make it to the finish at Val de Vie via 2000m of climbing, Freedom Struggle and the Bone Rattler.




Route Tours

Available exclusively to ABSA Cape Epic sponsors, the tours provide the perfect experience of the event. Included in the tour package is transportation, hostess service, en route catering, guided tour of race village, perfect spectator spots along the route to view the race, as well as a commemorative gift.

The Grand Finale

Grand Finale day is fun for the whole family, not just the heroes crossing the finish line. Val de Vie Estate is the venue where a range of activities have been planned for everyone – young and old – to celebrate the end of the Epic. Virgin Active has Club-V Kids Zone dedicated to the youngsters, where they can have fun with games, like soccer, swing ball, and even a mini obstacle course to name a few. The Club-V team will mind children aged 3-13 years, so parents can relax and enjoy the finish in one of the adult areas. The pump track is also sure to be a popular attraction for the young, future Cape Epic riders. Here they will be able to have fun with bikes and scooters on their very own mini epic track. Adults can enjoy refreshments and relax in the Castle Free Chill Zone without missing any of the race action thanks to the big screen. The Professors will be providing the soundtrack to the Epic’s finale from 12pm. There will also be food trucks stationed around the race village, where you can grab a quick bite.

Who To Watch

The details of following the Epic comes down to the categories, and the jerseys that go along with them. By familiarizing yourself with the different categories and the big names in each, you’re sure to have a satisfying race experience. At the end of each stage, the leaders in a category are given leader jerseys to begin the next stage with.


Yellow, with zebra stripes. It’s the mark of the leaders in the Men’s category. Yellow is said to signify courage and strength. Team Bulls’ Karl Platt and Urs Huber are sure to set the standard in this category. However, South Africa’s Erik Kleinhans has ten Epics under his belt, and is expected to stand out.


This category is marked with orange leader jerseys – a color representing enthusiasm and determination. All eyes will be on South Africans, Robyn de Groot and Mariske Strauss – in competing teams, but equally experienced with three completed Epics each.


Men and women participate together in this category, wearing green jerseys as a symbol of harmony and the balance between head and heart.


The competition for the blue Masters leader jerseys is just as rife as it is for the Yellow. Participants in this category are 40 years and older, which attracts the world’s veterans of the sport. Loyalty, wisdom, and inner strength are the qualities represented by the blue jerseys. South Africa’s Nic Lamond and Paris Basson of Team Podium are ones to watch in this category.

Grand Masters

The purple leader jerseys for riders older than 50 are symbols of mastery and dignity. South Africans, Waleed Baker and Shan Wilson of Team Pitstop, have nearly twenty completed Epics between them, and are sure to bring the competition on the day.


Besides the five categories mentioned above, there are special jerseys awarded to mountain bikers who meet certain criteria. The green Exxaro jersey goes to the top historically disadvantaged South African team where both bikers are younger than 26 years old. The red Absa African jersey is awarded to the top teams in the Men’s and Women’s categories, where the riders are registered as UCI Pro-Elite, and hold a valid African passport.


Prize Money

When the Cape Epic decided to match the Women’s prize to the Men’s in 2014, it became the biggest cash prize for women in cycling. The addition of the Absa African jerseys inflated the prize purse even further, which now stands at R1 743 200.


FAQs for Attending Fans

Are there viewpoints for spectators to watch the race?

Yes, there are various vantage points at intervals all along the route so you can follow your favorite bikers from start to finish.

Is spectator parking available?

Spectator parking areas have been allocated in the race village. Spectators should follow directions of designated marshals who will show them where to park.

Will food and drinks be available?

Yes, refreshment stations, the Castle Chill Zone, and food trucks will be available with food and drinks.

What is a Support Village?

A Support Village is located at each stage area, close to the race village. Here you will have access to bike shops and massages. Each stage should be booked beforehand to reserve a space.

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