The first transition stage, from Hermanus to Oak Valley, traverses wild country nestled within pockets of manicured agriculture. 108 brutal kilometres of raw, natural trails separate the race villages. Sections of purpose-built singletracks and brief flirtations with district roads provide moments of respite on smoother surfaces. 2 600 metres of climbing makes for an arduous day on the bike however. The challenges begin from the gun, with a climb out of Hermanus and into the wild; then trails deep in the fynbos lead into Wildekrans where tight and twisty trails make gaining momentum difficult. Onwards and uphill, the Honingklip trails lead to a brand-new challenge, a hitherto unused climb into the Hottentots Holland Mountains and onto the Elgin plateau. Valley Road Farms and Paul Cluver provide final climbs before a high-speed, high-risk, high-reward run into Oak Valley ensuring the stage ends on a high, ahead of the time trial on Stage 4.

Route Director's Tip

It starts off easy, but just when you think “I think I’ve done this before…” you’ll take a left and take on some tough climbs and trails that the Absa Cape Epic has never visited before. It’s amazing to me that still we can ride new trails. This is real hardcore mountain biking and there’s a proper climb to get from the seaside to apple country.