Toughest mountain bike race in the world is over. The Cape Epic 2018 started on 19th of March. The 2018 Cape Epic took riders through 658 km of South Africa’s Western Cape countryside and up a lot of hills: the accumulated vertical gain was 13,530 m. The race attracts professional and serious amateur entrants from across the planet that participate in two-person teams. From the Prologue on the iconic Table Mountain, the 2018 Cape Epic visited cities like Robertson, Worcester and Wellington, and finished at the Val de Vie.
UPDATE FINAL: March 26, 2018 (finish) -
Kulhavy (CZE), Grotts (USA) in Man Category and Langvad (DEN), Courtney (USA) in Women Cruise to Overall Victory in Absa Cape Epic
With 69km and 2000m of vertical gain standing between riders and a finisher’s medal at Val de Vie Estate, this year’s Grand Finale was arguably the toughest in the Absa Cape Epic’s 15-year history. With four beastly climbs punctuating the course, even the sharp end of the field would feel every metre. Despite their eight minute cushion over Cannondale Factory Racing’s Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini, Investec Songo Specialized would have to mark every attack and pray for a mechanical-free day following a string of bad luck earlier in the race.
Prologue: Cape Town – Cape Town. Distance: 20 km. Climbing: 600 m
From the imposing buildings of the University of Cape Town riders will be sent up the most vicious climbs of one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. Some may be left wondering about their legs after the first climb that has been given a name we dare not print in public, just 100m long with sections ramping up to unforgiving, steep gradients. Table Mountain has one last punch for the riders, up to Dead Man’s Tree, before they loop back to the finish. One last challenge awaits, the eye-wateringly quick descent of Plum Pudding.
1st Stage: Robertson – Robertson. Distance: 110 km. Climbing: 1900 m
Stage 1 is never easy at the Cape Epic. A roll around district and farm roads to start is followed by some sharp kickers and the rock ’n roll descent on the rocky, rutted descent of Con’s Singletrack. Takkap Climb comes into play just before halfway and will be the biggest challenge of the day, brutally steep and rocky. The “Hidden Cliff” of Skuilkraans is part of a 14km uphill slog before some small reprieve and a few testing climbs through the Elandskloof Reserve.
2nd Stage: Robertson – Robertson. Distance: 110 km. Climbing: 2000 m
A series of climbs will await the riders at the 2nd stage: The Balboa, the Cow Climb, Kat se Pad, Kat de Stert, Neil’s Folly, One-Two-Three Combo, Suckerpunch Climb and, when you think it is all over, the Counter Punch Climb. There will be some fun with the 10km Bosvark singletrack swoop after 82km, which for many will be the highlight of the day.
3rd Stage: Robertson – Worcester. Distance: 122 km. Climbing: 1800 m
The transition day will be the longest stage of the 2018 Cape Epic, but will not be the most challenging in terms of terrain, except for the Porcupine Trap, a flat-out section through sandy fynbos trails toward the Saggy Stone Brewery that has porcupine dens that could swallow a man whole. The first 20km includes three climbs, but it is Penn Hill that is the main challenge of the day, a 3.5km brute of a climb that comes after 12km of uphill graft.
Report: Stage 3 of the Cape Epic 2018 took the riders from Robertson to Worcester. The transition day marked the longest distance of the 2018 Cape Epic and athletes had to face challenges like the Porcupine Trap, a flat-out section through sandy fynbos trails toward the Saggy Stone Brewery. The first 20km included three climbs, but it was Penn Hill that was the first big climb of the day, a 3.5km brutal ascent that came after 12km of uphill graft. The technical terrain was a twisting section of Fynbos surrounded trail and one of the most demanding sections today.
4th Stage: Worcester – Wellington. Distance: 111 km. Climbing: 1800 m
The Queen Stage. This will include two of the toughest climbs of the 15th Cape Epic and the terrain will leave riders exasperated at times. There will be more singletrack than you could wish for. The testing Rawsonville and Smablaar River trails will prepare riders for one of the iconic sections of the 2018 route: The Slanghoek Valley trails, before trails became smooth and “manicured”. The Slanghoek Traverse is a testing descent, while the Thudbuster is a loose and sandy climb. The 9km of the historic Bain’s Kloof Pass is on tar, but feels like it is never-ending. The last 15km takes in the Welvanpas trails and is, mostly, a downhill roll to Wellington.
5th Stage: Wellington – Wellington. Distance: 39 km. Climbing: 1430 m
The time trial is the race of truth, just you and your partner against the clock. This could shake up the elite categories, the intensity of the altitude gain and the short day may catch a few of them out. There are three massive climbs on the day. Rondawel is first up after 5km, then Plantation at 13km and the Seven Peaks 22km in. The fun will come with the Bobsled bridge and the singletrack descents of Cool Runnings and Cool Runnings Two.
Report: Today it was time for stage 5 of the Cape Epic 2018, just three days away from the final stage 7 - the Grande Finale - on March 25th. The riders were seeded at today’s time trial according to their General Classification ranking on stage four. The time trial is the race of truth, just the riders and their bikes against the clock. There were three massive climbs on the day. Rondawel was first up after 5 km, then Plantation at 13 km and the Seven Peaks 22 km in. The fun came with the Bobsled bridge and the singletrack descents of Cool Runnings and Cool Runnings Two
6th Stage: Wellington – Wellington. Distance: 76 km. Climbing: 2000 m
Stage 6 is the fun day of the 2018 Cape Epic. Before the 2km descent of the Rollercoaster, the riders need to ride 2.5km of up. The Green Mamba climb is relentless, long and steep, but it comes with the reward of the Bain’s MTB Trails at Welvanpas. Fun times are to be had through the Handlebar Snatcher, Deadly White Climb and the Cheese Grater. There is just one more climb at 58km, but the race village is not far away.
Report: Stage 6 was the second to last stage before tomorrow’s Grande Finale in Val de Vie. It was also the fun day of the2018 Cape Epic. Before the 2km descent of the Rollercoaster, the riders had to ride 2.5km of up. The Green Mamba climb was relentless, long and steep, but it came with the reward of the Bain’s MTB Trails at Welvanpas. Fun times were at the Handlebar Snatcher, Deadly White Climb and the Cheese Grater. There was just one more climb at 58km before reaching the finish line in Wellington.
7th Stage: Wellington – Val de Vie. Distance: 70 km. Climbing: 2000 m
The climbing starts after just 3km on the Patatskloof. Concrete strips announce the beginning of the Beulah climb, which leads into the seemingly-endless Hawaqa climb, which together gain over 450m in around 6km. Once done with the Protea Climb, riders will be able to see the finish at Val de Vie, but have one last challenge: the Freedom Struggle Climb. The Bone Rattler descent is followed by a last 3km bump and a very loose and rocky descent. The final 6km is on purpose-built singletrack to the Grand Finale at Val de Vie Estate and the celebration of wearing an Cape Epic finisher’s medal.
The Absa Cape Epic is the most televised mountain bike stage race in the world and the only eight-day mountain bike stage race classed as hors catégorie by the Union Cycliste Interacionale (UCI). This official UCI status makes it a highlight on the professional racer's calendar. The Absa Cape Epic also attracts aspiring amateur riders wanting to test themselves against the best. It is a full-service race, meaning that everything is taken care of from the start - all riders need to think about is riding.