Message from kevin vermaak
It feels like just yesterday that I penned the foreword to the 2021 Absa Cape Epic Event Guide and to be on the cusp of staging a second event within six months again is a situation that fills me with great excitement.
The success of the 2021 event, under nothing-short-of trying circumstances, is a testament to those riders, sponsors, and the teams behind the scenes. Everyone showed incredible patience and willingness to adapt to the rules and regulations and I believe that it showed that anything and everything is possible when we work together
Looking ahead to this year's race, the teams registered to compete in the 18th edition of The Absa Cape Epic will surely be some of the best-prepared riders ever, given the impetus of having so recently watched an Absa Cape Epic unfold.
From a route point of view, I am fascinated to see how the racing unfolds during the return to our traditional March race month. The mix of technical singletrack-filled stages and longer dual-track dominated days means that race tactics could play a greater role than any recent edition. Hopefully, we’ll see the leader jerseys change hands frequently, as it seems unlikely that one team will be able to attack or even defend across the varied terrain that this year’s race covers.
Returning to Lourensford Wine Estate is a personal highlight for me as the Absa Cape Epic’s Grand Finale was hosted there on eight previous occasions, which coincided with the race being elevated to the highest pedestal of world mountain bike stage racing. This year, for the very first time, we will see Stage 1 and the start of Stage 2 at the same venue as the Prologue, which makes rider logistics far easier as teams can settle into the race in an incredible race village.
Further inland, Greyton and Stellenbosch are iconic locations. Both towns are pivotal to the history of South African mountain biking and the Absa Cape Epic’s legacy, too. Since the race last visited them, in 2017 and 2019 respectively, many new trails have been built, and the teams are in for thrills and trials in both towns.
Speaking of new trails, the Absa Cape Epic concludes, once again, at Val de Vie Estate. The country’s premier lifestyle estate has developed tremendously since our first visit in 2017. Among their world-class facilities is an ever-expanding network of mountain bike trails. Currently, there are 42-kilometres of trails within the grounds, and the Grand Finale will utilise a handful of them to usher the teams into the Estate and towards the final finish line.
Finally, I would like to thank Absa for their unrivalled dedication to the Absa Cape Epic and continued sponsorship until 2024. The relationship that we have with Absa is a critical part of our DNA, and has galvanised the event's reputation as the world's premier mountain bike stage race; I look forward to the event upholding this reputation come March.
With your goal of receiving an Absa Cape Epic finisher medal on the Val de Vie finish line set, I can only wish you good luck with your training. Especially to everyone who will be making the journey from the northern hemisphere to sunny South Africa. I know all-too-well the motivational challenges of training in the depths of winter.
20 March is fast approaching; until then, train smart, stay healthy, appreciate the adventure, and I shall see you on the start line in Lourensford Wine Estate.