Courtesy of quattro media
Absa Cape Epic 2018 – Western Cape (RSA) | the toughest mountain bike race in the world | Highlight Clip
In the end Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) and his partner Howard Grotts (USA) consolidated their long week of consistent racing and secured their victory of the 2018 Absa Cape Epic. Followed by the closest competitor teams Alban Lakata (AUT) / Kristian Hynek (CZE) and Manuel Fumic (GER) / Henrique Avancini (BRA) there was no chance in stage 7 to dethrone the leaders in the last moments.
Annika Langvad (DEN), now a four-time winner from just four attempts at the gruelling event, and young American novice Kate Courtney were sublime this week as they crushed all opposition with an almost faultless display of stage racing. Sabine Spitz (GER) and Robyn de Groot (RSA) followed second, while Mariske Strauss (RSA) and Annie Last (GBR) clinched the third spot in the overall rankings. The highlight clip “8 days in 8 minutes” of this untamed stage race in South Africa is now available!
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.
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.
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.
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.
1. Investec Songo Specialized 2-1 Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) 2-2 Howard Grotts (USA) 25:29.48,9
2. Canyon Topeak 7-1 Alban Lakata (AUT) 7-2 Kristian Hynek (CZE) 25:39.27,4 +9.38,5
3. Cannondale Factory Racing 6-1 Manuel Fumic (GER) 6-2 Henrique Avancini (BRA) 25:43.01,8 +13.12,9
4. BUFF SCOTT MTB 21-1 Francesc Guerra Carretero (Spain) 21-2 Luis Leao Pinto (Portugal) 25:48.42,2 +18.53,3
5. Centurion Vaude 3-1 Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland) 3-2 Daniel Geismayr (Austria) 25:53.21,3 +23.32,4
1. Investec Songo Specialized 54-1 Annika Langvad (DEN) 54-2 Kate Courtney (USA) 29:57.06,5
2. Ascendis Health 52-1 Sabine Spitz (GER) 52-2 Robyn De Groot (RSA) 30:43.35,7 +46.29,2
3. Silverback – KMC 51-1 Mariske Strauss (RSA) 51-2 Annie Last (GBR) 30:50.22,1 +53.15,6
4. dormakaba 56-1 Candice Lill (South Africa) 56-2 Amy Beth Mcdougall (South Africa) 31:48.17,1 +1:51.10,6
5. PMRA/CST Racing 59-1 Margot Moschetti (France) 59-2 Raiza Goulao (Brazil) 31:49.13,3 +1:52.06,8
6. dormakaba 2 57-1 Carmen Buchacher (Austria) 57-2 Samantha Sanders (South Africa) 31:56.25,1 +1:59.18,6