The 12th edition of the Absa Cape Epic literally took off with a bang at the University of Cape Town on Sunday morning when Jonathan Stones, UCT's head of Sports and Recreation, fired the gun at 06h45 to send the first team off.
The 15th of March saw UCT playing host to the Prologue of the world's most televised mountain bike stage race for the first time.
During the live broadcast on SuperSport, commentators agreed that seeing the start on the UCT campus from the air was an iconic view that would be remembered for many years to come.
Capetonians and visitors from all over the world enjoyed the early morning cool weather on UCT's Green Mile where riders were set off in teams of two in short intervals. The route meandered through UCT's beautiful campus, across Jammie Plaza and up Table Mountain where the riders had to negotiate a few steep climbs towards Table Mountain Road before they could enjoy a single track down to Newlands forest and UCT.
The UCT Cycling Club had a chill area at the bottom of the Jammie steps where students could enjoy the race from a distance. The club also played host to 13 young enthusiasts from the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy in Khayelitsha, who had cycled to UCT to enjoy the race. As part of their outreach programme, the Cycling Club members visit the academy and mentor this group of children on various topics from school work to life skills and how to maintain good marks while still training and racing hard.
Many of the top riders described the course as being tough and without any opportunities to rest. Riders who went out late in the day (especially the professionals), had the worst of the conditions after earlier riders had dragged their brakes through sections of the course – particularly the tricky downhill to Newlands picnic area where the UCT Cycling Club hosted one of two vantage points.
Swiss riders Fabian Giger and Martin Gujan (Novus OMX Pro) surprised all as they swept into the yellow zebra jersey in the Prologue. Four-time winners Karl Platt and Christoph Sauser were second and third with their teammates.
The elite women set off just as the temperature in Cape Town started to rise. Ariana Kleinhans and Annika Langvad (RECM Specialized) took the top position on the podium in a time of 53.38,7. Jennie Stenerhag and Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) came second in a time of 57.14,5 with Milena Landtwing and Hielke Elferink (Meerendal Wheeler Cannondale) in third place with a finishing time of 57.25,8.
Dr Mike Posthumus, senior researcher in the division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, and his partner Derrin Smith finished in a time of 54.17,3 putting them 39th in their category and 46th overall. Speaking to him after the race, Mike said it was an amazing feeling to start his race on the UCT campus. Mike is blogging dailyabout his experience during the Absa Cape Epic.
UCT student Kristina Murray and her team mate Sergio Madonna finished 19th in the mixed category with a good time of 1.10,48. The UCT team Nexus of Marc Brighton and Steven Mitchell finished in a time of 1.13,37.
The riders are currently tackling Stage 1 at Oak Valley in Elgin. They will ride 113km and climb a staggering 2 800m throughout Monday's route. The race will finish on Sunday 22 March at Meerendal Wine Estate outside Durbanville.
The Absa Cape Epic is the world's premier mountain bike stage race. The route changes every year, leading aspiring amateur and professional mountain bikers from around the world through roughly 800km of unspoilt scenery and 15 000m of accumulated climbing, over some of the most magnificent mountain passes in Western Cape in South Africa.
It is also the only eight-day mountain bike stage race classed as hors cat?gorie 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.
The Absa Cape Epic Prologue was the highlight of UCT Cycling Week in which students were made aware about the benefits of cycling to and from campus.
Follow these blogs
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.